After a hot minute in Holland it was off to Denmark for a slightly longer lay over. The stupidly early morning didn’t get off to a very auspicious start as we were briefly left stranded on the street of a damp Tilburg morning with revellers on their way home from an evening of debauchery.
A few hours later we were wheels down in at Copenhagen airport and an hour later ensconced in the hotel. Ten hours before show time in a posh hotel in what was seemingly a building site, what else was there to do than head to the city for food and a wander in the general direction of the Metallica pop-up-shop. Arriving there an hour before opening a visit to the cities Hard Rock Cafe was in order. Back at the pop-up-shop we joined the black clad hordes that had congregated there.
After an hour we finally gained entry. Eight minutes later we were heading out laden with new merchandise – only to find there was more being set up at the arena. As my hotel was so close we managed to snag more pieces of black cloth and return it to the room for safe keeping.
Gig time was in sight so the short stroll across the road was undertaken. From the outside the circular arena reminded me of New York’s Madison Square Garden – just clad in wood. Inside it was reminiscent of London’s cavernous O2 Arena – but seemed to have more soul about it than its London counterpart. Alcohol purchased and an hour wait for Danish band Hatesphere to grab an opportunity of a life-time with both hands ensued. Tonight was the first of four nights for Metallica in the brand new Royal Arena and four opening acts were decided upon by a public vote. Unfortunately Danish legends Artillery finished a disappointing fifth, but I probably witnessed the best of the quintet.
Hatesphere is a band that I haven’t heard anything from or by in such a long time. They’ve been floating around the lower reaches of the scene for years but never had that big break. They took their half hour with great precision and smiles as wide as the stage. They clearly enjoyed their time in the spot light.
The support band departed. The stage was set and the advertised start time came and went. Thirty minutes later the strains of AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top filled the arena and the light dimmed and the Ennio Morricone intro rolled, followed by a new Hardwired… To Self-Destruct intro then the title track of the latest album was unleashed to rapturous applause. Straight into Atlas, Rise! – the second of five new tracks aired tonight bled into For Whom the Bell Tolls. Seeing James Hetfield resplendent in his patch jacket always makes this Potteries kid proud of where he calls home when the Discharge logo is proudly on display for all to see.
By this time you could sense something wasn’t quite right. Hatfield wasn’t his usually chirpy self and breathing was looking like a problem. Words were being missed and the vocals were coming across pretty raspy. A few more tracks in and things became clearer.
Fuel and The Unforgiven followed quickly in succession. Removing his guitar after Now That We’re Dead, James and drummer Lars Ulrich had a lengthy confabulation. James thought things were sounding horrible due to him and Rob Trujillo being ill. He really wanted to be elsewhere recovering but he gave the sixteen thousand strong fans in attendance the final say. Unanimously, and most definitely selfishly, we wanted them to proceed which he did apologetically. The vocals weren’t as crisp as usual and odd lyrical passages were deliberately missed, but the show went on.
Things resumed again with another new one Moth into Flame. Harvester of Sorrow made it’s appearance, sandwiched between two new tracks with Confusion being the final song of the night that was penetrating my ears for the first time.
After some solo bass shenanigans gun fire and a multitude of laser beams filled the void, One was imminent. By this point only classic ‘Tallica tracks followed and some of the vocal duties could be foisted upon the crowd. Master of Puppets and Fade to Black led to Seek and Destroy and the ending of the main set. Would that be all as illness had taken its toll?
Another intro tape rolled and a thunderous Battery laid waste to the Royal Arena. The now predictable one-two of Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman brought the first test of this new arena’s capabilities to a glorious end. Three more shows are scheduled over the next six days. I’m sure the arena will be up for another trio of stress tests, it’s just a case of will the band make it.
Thanks to modern technology and the way bands now keep in touch with their fan base, the set list was revealed to the world post show showing two tracks were eventually omitted. Not seeing Sad But True again was no loss, but I hope the missing of Halo on Fire is rectified sooner rather than later.
I’ve seen in excess of thirty Metallica shows. This was by no means a classic, but not the least favourable of those either. The stage was set up for an ‘in the round’, so down on the floor, up close and personal, you get a much different perspective on the stage and overall sound compared to the nose bleed seats. (I wasn’t aware the stage lit up until I saw YouTube snippets and photos the next morning.) Plus the added issues arising from a brand new venue. It was adequate enough for my liking and nobody could really say they were awful with the extraneous circumstances that had to be dealt with. I can’t think of many bands who wouldn’t have attempted to placate the paying customers for one minute.
A few more hours the next day were taken in exploring the streets of Copenhagen with a dank and misty back drop looming over the picturesque city before a two hour delayed journey back to Blighty. Here’s looking forward to more Metallica adventures in 2017, possibly closer to home. I’m very much ready for home after almost three days away, ready to see my family and let my wallet recover. Copenhagen isn’t the cheapest city to spend time in. And after all these years the Scandinavians still have the art of pillaging down to a tee!