Metallica are no strangers to playing to large crowds. Back in 1991 they took on Moscow’s Monsters of Rock with the crowd toll at over one and a half million people. But the history doesn’t end there. Over 20 years later sees them reach the headline slot on Glastonbury Festival’s Pyramid Stage to conquer a crowd of non-metal heads in a defiant display of riff mania. A week later and we caught them in a very familiar setting; Knebworth House to a crowd of 60,000 people. Seems like a comfortable show for the four-piece. But be rest assured, their set was nothing familiar or ordinary. Try out of this world.
Their set saw a fan chosen set-list as the band are still embarking on their current By Request World Tour. After a lengthy almost two hour wait after Alice In Chains, the chant to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly saw them burst onto the stage into ‘Battery’. The crowd surged with commotion as James Hetfield unleashed vocals that were on top form. This, combined with the chunkiest riffs and the loudest drum pedals you’ve heard on a live stage, it certainly set the tone for what was to come.
From there, it was hit after hit after hit. ‘Master Of Puppets’ followed on from ‘Battery’ emanating one of metal’s most iconic guitar riffs. That, with no let up of beauty during Kirk Hammett’s clean guitar elements showed that these 50 something’s could teach any person a thing or two about how to spark energy and fury. Although pyro didn’t make an appearance in their set, they more than made up for it with style, finesse and foolproof musicality.
The fan set list saw the night filter from the double pedal fury of ‘One’ to Rob Trujillo’s quintessential ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ walk. But highlights of the night were surprisingly the band’s moments of allure. ‘Nothing Else Matters’ saw Hetfield go from electric to acoustic consistently and provide perfection and beauty in his voice alone. The crowd sang in coherence, just as with The Black Album’s ‘The Unforgiven’ with its punchy hollow melancholy essence. New track ‘Lords Of Summer’ too was a pleasant highlight. At over eight minutes in length, it gave way for a fresh, new Metallica, and one the crowd adored.
As the mighty legends ended with Kill ‘Em All hit ‘Seek and Destroy’, the crowd bounced as black Metallica balloons took over the crowd. Drummer Lars Ulrich took to the walkway to fuel the crowd’s spirits as to how long this band will continue to tour around the world is unknown. But what we do know is that however long we have to wait for their new album, wait we will. Metallica have earned their place in history, and will be in the hearts of music fans forever.
Review by: Emma Younger
Photos by: Jemma Dodd