Sunday afternoon and I’m still recovering from last nights exceptional Metallica show in Manchester last night. There was an air of trepidation prior to yesterday’s gathering, as for me and many others in attendance, this was our first visit to the arena after its prolonged closure due to the horrific bombing back in May.
I joined the not overly lengthy queue about half an hour before the scheduled door time. The doors ended up being late opening by nearly quarter of an hour, but in comparison to last weekend in London we breezed through the extra security measures and I’d spent my money at the merch stand within thirty minutes of the first customers being allowed through the airport style scanners.
I was high in the second tier, but after experiencing my first show of the year in Copenhagen from the floor then viewing the fan filmed video afterwards I felt I was missing out on the spectacle. Even back on row K the view was superb and the show looked amazing. There was a proper overview on everything going on rather than a glimpse of what was directly in front of you at any given moment.
AC/DC started blaring from the PA and the crowd was instantly upbeat. The lights went down and Ecstasy of Gold began to roll. The first three track opening whammy of Hardwired, Atlas, Rise! and crowd pleaser Seek and Destroy mirrored London. Then some of the rotations crept in. Of Wolf and Man and The Day That Never Comes were slotted in before the rigid placement of Now That We’re Dead – with added drum solos from all four band members – and then another new album track. Yesterday I got my first live taste of the oddly paced ManUNkind before it was a return to the back catalogue with For Whom the Bell Tolls then a return to last years opus with Halo on Fire.
Kirk and Rob are left to their own devices briefly and jam snippets of local acts. Surprisingly for a metal crowd the Oasis portion was well received by most. A short bass intro of Love Will Tear Us Apart preceded the Rob’s homage to departed bassist Cliff Burton with a spine tingling Anaesthesia (Pulling Teeth) with Cliff looking down on Rob from up on high.
A band renowned for their cover versions saw Queen’s Stone Cold Crazy get an airing before a blistering version of Creeping Death. Moth Into Flame with its added drone moths had been the last new track from the Hardwired… album the last few times I’d seen the band, but not tonight. Speaking of the drones, one went seemingly haywire and rather than circling the band few off into the crowd. I think someone got a good souvenir if they managed to keep it tucked up their shirt!
The now predictable main set closers of Sad But True, One and Master of Puppets followed. Now that the band have got the pyrotechnics back in the stage show I wish they’d reinstate the flames when landmine is uttered in the song. I’ve seen that song so many times with the pyro my brain still expects the boom, I do like the new intro using bits of the bands landmark video to One compared to the over sized laser pointers of recent years though, but I’d still like flames.
An unfamiliar taped intro to these ears began the encore. Usually it’s been Battery or Blackened (two songs I wouldn’t complain about heading live again), but for the third show in a row we got the song from the new album a lot of fans have been hoping to see and almost demanding its inclusion. The thrashiest track on the album Spit Out the Bone was absolutely stunning live and as it wasn’t played on the first of the pair of London shows, and the one I attended, all the rubbing of lucky rabbits feet and crossing all fingers and toes and any other manner of voodoo used seemed to work for tonight.
Attending a Metallica show with my Y chromosome friends I go with, the set closing pair of Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman usually garners a different response compared to last night. When the guitar noodling of Mr Hammett begins I have often been seen heading towards the exit to beat the rush. Last night with my wife sitting to my left they developed into a raucous 12 minute sing a long.
Approaching 40 shows in nearly 30 years I’m still surprised when I get to experience new songs and tonight I got two. From the shows I’ve seen on this run I’ve managed to see all ten of the tracks performed from the Hardwired session. I’ve seen people whine that there are too many new songs on the set list with currently six or seven played each night, but I’d much rather bare witness to something much more recent than songs I’ve seen dozens of times over the years. Sure there are old school songs and deep cuts I’d like to see reinstated to the set, but maybe drop some of the other stalwarts rather than those from the new album that in effect is being promoted.