Metallica – Manchester Arena – 28.10.17

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. 

Now I’m off to see if anyone is trying to off load a ticket for Birmingham tomorrow and I’m still bitterly disappointed I didn’t make it to Glasgow midweek. 

Advertisements

Moth Into Flame

The morning after W.A.S.P. in Manchester sees me have a relatively early wake up call to jump on a train and head to London Town to see Metallica on the opening night of their five date UK tour. 

I’ll be at two of the five dates, but things could change. I was hoping to have seen them at a couple more but at £100 a ticket it was way out of my price range to see many more than the two. I’m in London on Sunday with friends and the following Saturday I’m in Manchester with my wife. I was hoping to have gone north of the wall to see them in Glasgow too, but that (so far) hasn’t materialised! 

I haven’t seen as many of the bands European dates as I’d have hoped for, but I’ve had a few adventures and I have a night in Stuttgart to look forward to next year. My first time seeing the band in what many consider to be their European home of Germany. 

Before the main event it’ll be straight off the train and a dash to central east London (is that a thing?) to join one of the many queues for the day and have a peruse inside the pop up shop. Having experienced the Copenhagen store back in February it’s a great money making scheme for the band. Hopefully I’ll be able to grab something British specific from there as I’m pretty sure the ones on sale in the arenas will be snapped up and several will be on sale on eBay before the final strains of Enter Sandman have died away in the rafters. 

Once I’ve finally dumped my stuff off in the hotel it’s off to Greenwich to visit the O2 Arena for a second time. The only other visit I’ve paid to this soulless hanger was back in 2010 when Bon Jovi took residency there for a staggering twelve nights. 

With the tragic event at the Manchester Arena some months ago and artists finally (but unsuccessfully) trying to do something to combat ticket touts I foresee another long and arduous wait whilst people who’ve bought their tickets at an inflated price on the secondary market for the event get unceremoniously turned away. Once those lucky enough to posses the right ticket with matching photo ID it’ll be time to queue inside the venue for just about anything you’ll need in there, over priced food and drink, toilets and merchandise. 

Let’s hope, because it’s Britain, that the people in front of the queue aren’t like the last ones I encountered at a big show on foreign soil. What’s with the desire to try on every piece of clothing you think you want to buy? Check the little piece of material in the back of the garments you are wearing. If they fit ask for the equal size. If they’re to big or small amend accordingly. The only thing you need to know is the make of the clothing. From my misfortune, if it’s Fruit of the Loom go a size up. 

It’s going to be an expensive weekend with W.A.S.P. the night before and Manchester six days later, but at least I’m only away from my own bed for one evening and even if it’s taking me three hours to travel to the capital my train ticket has been dirt cheap, costing me less than £20 there and back. More money available for merch, not that I’m desperate for anymore. 

I was hoping this years arena run would have seen me break the barrier of seeing the band for the 40th time. I was really hoping I’d have made Paris earlier this year and maybe another two of the five UK shows. If I’d have made the Moscow show that I had tickets for back in 2010 then I’d gave only needed two more, but Eyjafjallajökull erupting in Iceland at the same time scuppered flights, along with the exorbitant price of a Russian visa so close to travelling also didn’t help matters. I’ll break the 40 mark in time, there’s no rush. They’re going nowhere just yet. 

As all the tracks from the latest album had videos made for them here’s another one that has been a main stay of the band’s set list for the fifty odd shows currently played on the Worldwired Tour. 

Nothing Else Matters (S&M)

September 2nd 2000 – a date ingrained on my mind forever and a day, even though an exact time might be a bit hazy seventeen years later. 

A round about this time on (possibly) a bright Saturday afternoon I was a bit of a nervous gibbering wreck waiting to say I do to my better half Angela. I can’t actually remember all the details from the remaining ten hours of that day, some gaps need to be confirmed by my wife, others we have both got different recollections of. If only we had the video memories that we were promised by a member of the extended family. 

Seventeen years on my wife and I are heading home after attending a wedding in Essex. Sitting opposite is my best man from the day and his wife who both put in a lot of work into feeding the handful of guests on the day and generally being our voices of reason. Some people are unfortunately no longer with us, but we have fond memories of most of them. 

The biggest blur of the day was the evening do. I remember some of the music our DJ played that night and I recall heading off to a hotel before the witching hour. Actually meeting and greeting people who were there is a faded memory. All these years on though I can still recall some of the slight disdain from my father in law who seemed disappointed he couldn’t by me an beer on the night as I didn’t drink back then. I think he’d be less disappointed now. 

We had the usual fare of wedding style music played through out the evening but we made sure we had some things a bit more rock orientated interspersed during the night. Extreme’s More Than Words and Angela (obviously) by Mötley Crüe got an airing. A mutual favourite of ours, The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood might have also crowbarred me onto the dance floor for the second time that evening. 

Since then though Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing has brought me out into a cold sweat every time I’ve heard it played on the radio. It’s just the PTSD style flash backs I get of dancing with my mother in law (insert copious mother in jaw jokes here!)

The first dance that we had as a married couple, and possibly had together as a couple, was the power ballad Nothing Else Matters by Metallica from their eponymous 1991 album. Coincidentally enough it was also played at last night celebrations at the behest of the metal head groom, and it was one of the very few times that I have done my impression of someone trying to dance badly in a public setting. Maybe we’ll do it again in another 204 months, unless there is something occurring for our china anniversary (even though I’d much prefer a ticket to Beijing or Shanghai instead.)

So here’s me raising an imaginary glass of train Cava to the love of my life. Besides all the good things that we’ve done together she has had to put up with so many bad moods, tantrums and general issues of  not thinking things through over these last “couple of years” and here’s to many more.  

Angela,

All my love,

Today 

Tomorrow 

and

Forever 

x x x x

Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 1/31

Just a bit of a detour from the usual posts as I embark on 31 songs in 31 days answering the questions below. So here we go…

Day 1 – Heaviest Riff

Metallica – Sad But True

The first thing that came into my mind was Sad But True by Metallica so that’s the one I’ll stick with. 

As they say when they play it live you wanted heavy, Metallica give you heavy.  

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.