By Desh Kapur, Journalist/Photographer and Tom Finch/Journalist, Rock At Night Manchester
Venue: The Etihad Stadium, Manchester – 18th June 2019
Is Metallica the greatest metal band of all time??? – It’s a fair enough question, but its not a debate I would like to get involved in, but needless to say they are right up there. So I was absolutely thrilled to get a chance to see them on their current world tour.
After a 5-minute intro that included AC/DC’s “Long Way To The Top” with clips from spaghetti western classic “ A Fistful Of Dollars” flickering on the back screen and to the theme tune “Ecstasy Of Gold” the band walked onto the stage.
All dressed in black jeans, black t shirts, biker boots and leather singlets, except for Kirk Hammett who was rocking what looked like double denim.
Then it was on, and Lars Ulrich legs start to pound and we hear the rumbling double kick of his bass pedals, James Hetfield’s down picking starts the galloping guitar of the first track off their latest album “Hardwired” and this brings the crowd to a roar and the head banging starts. Their metal gods were here and it seems they weren’t slowing down anytime soon. As Hetfield’s grizzling tones cut through the noise from the 30 odd thousand people packed into the Etihad, we were taken back as they launched into “With The Memory Remains” from the album “Reload” and it showcased why this band is still dominating this genre after 30 years, “Disposable Hero’s” followed and it sounded as crisp as it did in 1986.
The bass strings of Robert Trujillo started to bounce and with his hair in his now famous quad plats flailing in the wind he lead us into “The God That Failed” and “The Unforgiven” from the self-titled album Metallica known as the “Black Album” to hard-core fans. Then back to the future as we were treated to two more tracks from their new album Here Comes Revenge and “Moth Into A Flame”. By now everyone in the whole stadium was on there feet and it felt like the whole place was bouncing, three generations of fans in perfect harmony hands in the air and sign of the horns as far as the eye could see.
After a chat with the thousands of faces in front of them and thank you for 38 years of support, and before you can take a breath these four metal maestros hit the crowd with more nostalgia in the form of heaviness with “Sad But True”. The crowd erupted as the familiar riff shook their heads and the thousands of fists moved yet again in sync through the air.
“Welcomed Home To Sanatorium” served as a prequel to what was to be the most left of centre point of the night, Rob and Kirk marched to the front of one of the runways and these two goliaths of metal played something very familiar to the Manchester crowd….. A cover of “I Wanna Be Adored” by Manchester hometown heroes, The Stone Roses. Then cleverly the riffs took on a deeper, more frantic tone and the clanging drums (which will always be synonymous with introducing a new era for the band with the inclusion of current bassist and worthy successor to the late great Cliff Burton, Robert “The Whiskey Warlord” Trujillo), the band launched into “St Anger” and “I’m Madly In Anger With You”. Those iconic words spew out with rage from the depths of James Hetfield’s throat.
WIth four downstrokes of James’s guitar, he knew the crowd was his, as one of the groups most famous songs started. Kirk’s intro solo had the backing of thousands of voices singing along in seconds. Only one word was needed to describe this song and the significance it has to the band and everyone that has been touched by its sad and disturbing lyrics of “ONE”. The power of James words and the emotion of Kirk’s fret board tapping and speed of his solo sent shivers through the masses.
The Californian shredders had taken control, as they became the namesake of the next thumping track. These “Master of Puppets” were definitely pulling the strings “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was next and Rob’s fingers carefully plucked the deep grooves of the intro as he crouched down and strutted his famous crab walk. And six-string slayer, Kirk Hammett, followed his lead and crab walked around the stage with him.
More roars erupted from the crowd as they played “Creeping Death”, a fan favourite, a song that would normally open their show. Then into “Seek and Destroy”, with its extra heavy riff, rattling the arena as the fans rejoiced.
A video then played on the screens and “Lords of Summer” began and was followed by the iconic “Nothing Else Matters”, with James playing a beautifully crafted solo. These monsters of metal were nearly done. A night of classics and heart racing gallops and solos was about to come to an end. But then as the light exited the sky and night fell upon the huge crowd, they knew there was only one way to end this magnificent evening– “Enter Sandman”. The riff started and the thousands of adoring fans raised their fists for the final time in what looked like crashing waves in the ocean and the big 4 thundered the arena with a torrent of metal. The song that had made the group famous sent tingles through the horn shaped hands.
What a night of masterpieces, melting sounds and madness. The four super “Metal” heroes were done. The night that the fans never wanted to end had passed by.
All good things must come to an end–but I dread the day these guys hang up their guitars and call it a day. The world needs metal, and Metallica IS metal. Until then, it’s off to never never land
Enter Sand Man
Nothing Else Matters