Metallica close Rock in Rio festival in Spain

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US heavy metal veterans Metallica closed the five-day Rock in Rio 2010 festival in Spain on Monday with a performance before 48,000 people, organisers said.

"It is great to see you once again, we are grateful to be back in Madrid," singer James Hetfield told the crowd at Arganda del Rey some 20 kilometres (12 miles) southeast of Madrid after performing "Creep", Bellz" and "Never".

The Grammy-winning band last performed in the Spanish capital in July 2009.

"I came to learn from the masters," said Santi Mayoral, a 31-year-old singer with Spanish heavy metal group Shalm which will release its first album later this year.

Metallica formed in 1981 when drummer Lars Ulrich posted an advertisement in a local newspaper and went on to be one of the biggest rock metal acts in history, selling more than 100 million records worldwide.

Total audience for this year's Rock in Rio reached 250,000, down from 290,000 in 2008 when it was first held in Spain.

The five-day festival -- spread over June 4-6 and Friday and Monday -- featured a wide range of musical genres and a diverse group of acts, including Colombian pop star Shakira, US teen idol Miley Cyrus and US rockers Bon Jovi.

Organisers initially expected the total audience to reach 320,000 this year but unusually cool, wet weather for this time of the year during the final two days of the festival hurt ticket sales.

"I think Rock in Rio is one of the world class festivals. They are significant players on the world stage," said Gary Bongiovanni, the president of Pollstar, a US company that provides worldwide concert tour information at its popular web site.

The first Rock in Rio festival was held in Rio de Janeiro in January 1985 and it drew 1.4 million people over ten days, which organisers say makes it the largest paid rock festival ever held in the world.

Subsequent editions of the festival staged in Portugal and Spain have been arranged by its Brazilian founder, Roberto Medina, who has already announced that the event will return to Arganda del Rey for a third edition in 2012.

The event is scheduled to return to Brazil in 2011 for a fourth edition and Medina is in talks to hold a version of the event in Poznan, Poland as well as in London.

Organisers spent 27 million euros (32.7 million dollars) to stage Rock in Rio this year, with about half the bill footed by over 40 corporate sponsors whose ads featured prominently on giant video screens at the festival grounds.

© 2010 AFP

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