Metallica – Copenhagen, Royal Arena – 3.2.17

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! 

Now That We’re Dead


On Friday I get to see Metallica for the first time since the summer of 2015. The fallow seventeen months comes to an end tomorrow and to be honest it’s been a welcome break. 

I got to see the band an awful lot since 2004, but I’m not looking for any award as I know of some proper obsessive types who’ve been to pretty much every show they’ve done over the last few tours. I saw them eight times in 2009 and seeing a few shows every year since started getting a bit boring. As much as they chop and change some of the running order they’re still slotting in songs I’ve seen numerous times. 

I’m lucky to have seen the band in excess of thirty times over almost thirty years. Ive seen some great stage sets, some superb musicians and retained some great memories. Some people I know of have been to many more, but the majority of their shows have been in much more recent years. 

The show on February 3rd is the first event to be held at the newly opened Royal Arena in Copenhagen – which is something only 16,000 people will have the honour to say. I would have jumped at the chance to have attended the following three shows, but spending a week in one of Europe’s most expensive countries isn’t economically viable for this humble van driver. Plus there could be chances to see the band in other venues and countries by the end of the year. If I had been in the city for the duration though, a Kreator show falls between two Metallica shows and I would have 100% been inside the Amager Bio on Monday. 

It will also be my first visit to Denmark for well over a decade. The last time I was there with my wife it was a flying visit to the city to have a meal in the cities Hard Rock Cafe and well over a decade ago. It ended up being a day trip tagged onto a few days we were spending in Berlin. I can’t recall much of that trip to Copenhagen. We had food in the cafe on the first evening and the time we had the next day we went looking for the Hans Christian Anderson Little Mermaid statue. That was pretty uninspiring once we found it! Much smaller than we’d expected. Bright coloured buildings and Samsonite bags also seem to be consolidated in my hippocampus. 

Having lived with the tenth Metallica album for two and a half months now I can say it was a lot more impressive that I was expecting. For something so long (78 minutes) it does dip in energy here and there, but there are going to be some outstanding moments in the live set. And at least this time there will hopefully be four or five songs I’ve never experienced live, even though the old faithfuls of Enter Sandman, Nothing Else Matters, One and Master of Puppets will still be deep rooted in the set. 

I’ve actually not listened to Hardwired… To Self-Destruct tracks 1 thru to 12 for a while, but I’ll be giving the half dozen songs that have been aired to audiences in the last few months a blast before Friday. A video has been made for ever song on the album and I’ve not had chance to sit and watch all of them yet. 

All of the videos were done by different artists to give a mix of styles. The video for this track was done by fashion photographers Dimitri Scheblanov and Jesper Carlsen, under the name of Herring & Herring. They were also responsible for the pretty bad looking album art work and no doubt a slew of iffy shirt designs for the foreseeable future. 

One 

Happy birthday to this blog,

Happy birthday to this blog…

   
Twelve months ago I was sitting in this exact same spot debating the idea in my head about reinventing the blog that I just got bored of doing some years beforehand. Twelve months and 323 posts later I’m still tapping away on my iPhone with my right thumb reliving memories from my 15,669 days on this rock. On Jukebox 20 I think this was the fourth or fifth song to be posted and from memory out of those first few only Love Shack by the B-52’s hasn’t made a return visit. 

I’m still enjoying it and it’s helping to achieve what I wanted to get out of it. It’s not the most widely read blog on WordPress but it’s turning into a bit of a diary and expanding my mind. Where else would I have used some of the words written here – like bodacious – in my life time? So here’s to another twelve months. 

As its my one year anniversary here’s One from Metallica. Anyone would think I’ve been sitting on this song just for this occasion, and there is a little bit of truth in that as the calendar flipped closer to October 23rd. 

If Frankie Goes To Hollywood gave me the itch to immerse myself into the record buying culture then this release was probably the one that, as in the words of a 1984 7″ released by Poison Idea, let me become part of the Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes club! 

As much of a completist I’d like to be it’s no longer a priority or a necessity to own every single version of every release by all the bands I like. I spend time on and off logging my purchases over the last 30 years on the Discogs site and there’s some money’s worth of vinyl sitting in a multitude of boxes and crates upstairs – well it is worth a lot as long as people are still searching and willing to pay for it. Looking on eBay and Facebook selling sites lately and perusing at what comes up it is absolutely eye watering what people are asking for stuff and what some are prepared to pay. I’m so glad I got the majority of what I did before prices sky rocketed. There are odd things id really like to add, but I’m too old to pay over the odds. 

My first “collectable” was the 12″ vinyl single with a gatefold sleeve (METG 512) of One that I picked up at a record fair held at the YMCA in Hanley. I can find this for sale online from anything from £9.99 right up to £44.49. As it stands now I think I own more than 25 versions of this release. 

  

This track was the third single from the album and first one that Metallica ever made a promotional video for. The quartet are filmed in a warehouse playing the song, interspersed with clips from the 1971 anti-war film Johnny Got His Gun (a film the band have since brought the rights to so that they don’t have to keep pay royalty fees). It’s the most performed track from the …And Justice For All era, and much like Enter Sandman and Master of Puppets, it has been played live at pretty much every gig since it was unleashed on the public. 

(Anaesthesia) Pulling Teeth 

  

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Cliff Burton’s tragic death when Metallica’s tour bus overturned on the road close to Ljungby, Sweden, when they were on the way to catch a ferry towards Copenhagen. The force of the overturning bus ended up throwing him through a window and the coach eventually landed on him.   
  

They were touring the Master of Puppets album at the time and on the crest of hitting the big time with one of thrash metals most influential releases. 
  

It has always been stated that Cliff had the more diverse musical tastes within the group and it’s often acknowledged that it was he who introduced the others to bands like the Misfits. 

At such a tender age of 24 and with so much talent in those fingerless gloved hands, it would have been interesting to see what path the band would have ventured down in the intervening three decades. I still think we would have had Puppets follow up …And Justice For All, he received a posthumous credit on To Live Is To Die. Would we have had Enter Sandman – breaking the band to a global audience? What about St Anger, Reload and Load? By all accounts the symphonic elements of what became S&M would have probably surfaced at some point in time. 

Tonight the band are playing a show in New York City. Coincidence it happens to be on this date or just the way it’s fallen? The atmosphere around East 11th Street and within the intimate Webster Hall will be electric and one of those shows to go into ‘Tallica folklore. 
  

Originally found on the Kill ‘Em All debut release, this live version of (Anaesthesia) Pulling Teeth was recorded at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark in 1985 and can be found on the Cliff ‘Em All video – a compilation of early era Metallica live tracks with the emphasis on Cliff. 

Raise a glass to a fallen icon.

Rest in peace Cliff. 

Never forgotten. 

Nothing Else Matters

  

September 2nd 2000 – one of those dates indelibly etched into my brain. The day my braces didn’t hold up my trousers properly!!

It was a day spent with family – several now no longer with us and dearly missed. A day spent with friends -some of whom have now taken a different path. 

Around this time sixteen years ago I’d been a married man for a couple of hours and nervously not looking forward to our first dance in front of family, friends, colleagues and quite a few strangers and stragglers. 

As the avid Metallica fan that I am, and a wife slowly being weaned into the way of San Francisco’s favourite sons, the mandatory carnage of a first dance had to be Nothing Else Matters. If I’d have been braver I might have opted for Battery, Officer Down or Angel of Death. 

With feet my size I come across as a right clumsy oaf with zero coordination (which is correct) and I’m not exactly confident in front of large amounts of people. It felt like the longest six and a half minutes I have endured in my life. It was probably the first time I’ve danced in public and with my pig headedness I probably haven’t danced in the intervening years, incurring many elbows to the ribs and a few strong words thanks to my reluctance. 

Having a quick flick through the photos from the day it looks like I had a fine mop of hair and I didn’t seem to smile all that much. Sixteen years further down the line and the hair is minimal and I still don’t smile all that much. 

This song isn’t within striking distance of an imaginary top ten of Metallica songs, it’s not even their best power ballad, but it covered the bases for the wedding night and did its job. I didn’t think it meant too much to me, but as I was standing in the snake pit right at the front of the stage as they lurched into this track during their Sonisphere appearance in 2014 some dust flew into my eye making them water profusely for a couple of minutes, as dust particles tend to do. 

So happy silver holloware anniversary to my wonderful wife. If I knew what holloware is I’d have got you some! This is for you and here’s looking forward to the furniture year (but more realistically the china year). 

Today. Tomorrow. Forever. 

Hardwired

  

So I was just sitting around on this fine Thursday evening,  showing little interest in the Olympics on the goggle  box and flicking through social media I start to turn my attention to a relatively early night. Then out of the blue the social media universe explodes, implodes and explodes a bit more. 

Metallica have finished their new album, their first in eight years. It will be released later this year.  There is a new track available to download and probably stream somewhere. Apple Store – take my wife’s 99p and give it to me immediately! 

Apparently Hardwired… To Self-Destruct will be available worldwide on November 18th (that deluxe box would make a neat birthday present 10 days later wife of mine!). Bringing release dates into line worldwide has been a good move for music buyers, no need to hunt down a foreign version months before your domestic version is issued. But as someone who’s been brought up on a Monday release Friday still takes a bit of getting used to though. 

Anyway, back on topic. The new album has a running time in the region of 80 minutes over two discs. The first track – Hardwired, here for your aural pleasure – is a sub four minute belter. With a total of 12 tracks there are going to be some tunes of an epic length. It’s going to be interesting to see if the currently unheard 76 minutes stands up to scrutiny next to superb releases in the last calendar year from Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax – the self confessed Big 4. 

After a few listens it still has that Death Magnetic vibe to it, but it just bombs along and is over before you know it without over staying its welcome. Easily one of the shortest album tracks since the Load / Reload era in the mid 90’s, I’d even hazard a guess that it’s the shortest song of theirs to be featured on an album. 

All we need now is some tour announcements. Fingers crossed they don’t plump for the festival circuit again. I wouldn’t mind a mini vacation to the States. Germany would be nice too. Maybe Italy?  Holland?

Enjoy. 

Fight Fire With Fire

  

Hot on the heels of Kill ‘Em All’s 33rd anniversary on Monday comes the 32nd anniversary of the sophomore release Ride The Lightning. It’s weird to remember those days when a band released albums after a couple of years, let alone 12 months. It’s been nearly eight years since their last album Death Magnetic surfaced and rumours are abound of the tenth release appearing later on 2016 or maybe 2017. 

Depending on what mood I’m in on any given day Ride can be my second or third favourite release. Always number one will be the flawless genius of Master Of Puppets and this is on a par with “my” Metallica album …And Justice For All. 

I say “my” album as I tend to veer towards the album that I was first in a position to buy on release days as usually my favourite by that artist. For me there seems to be that air of nostalgia for the first slab of vinyl, or later on compact disc, that I physically had to make the effort to head to town – an hours bus ride away as a kid – to pick it up from a record shop. Back then it would’ve been Lotus or Mike Lloyds Music, with my money earnt from my newspaper round before and after school, seven days a week, rain or shine. Metallica is one of a few anomalies to that rule as the previous release is always top of the pile but I didn’t have it until a few years after its release. 

I’m pretty sure I mentioned it previously, but just for you – yes you – my new reader, I’ll say it again. Ride The Lightning was one of the very first metal albums I heard along with Iron Maiden’s Killers and Somewhere In Time back in the summer of 1987. It’s weird to think in twelve months time I’ll have been indulging in the “hobby” for three decades. 

Since I first saw the band live in 1990 I’ve seen seven of the eight songs featured on this album in the live arena. The only one I’ve not seen is Escape, a track much maligned by James Hetfield especially. I know a lot of fans who want to hear experience it but it has only ever been played once during Metallica’s very own curated, but ill fated Orion Festival in 2012. 

With its deceiving forty second intro lulling you into a false sense of security before the bludgeoning guitars kick in, Fight Fire With Fire is the albums opening volley. This version is taken from the Orgullo, Pasión, y Gloria: Tres Noches en la Ciudad de México DVD / CD set released in 2009. I’ve got a couple of copies littered around the house, but I don’t think I’ve actually sat and watched it. That needs to be rectified.