It was almost a year ago that Metallica first announced they would be touring Europe in the summer of 2019, playing the continents biggest stadia to some of the biggest crowds they've every gathered in one place. That near year long wait is over and Metallica hit the UK this week.
The Revival were lucky enough to get a preview of what’s in store when leg one of the tour rolled into Barcelona in Spain, but the shows we've all been waiting for are the two British dates in Manchester and London.
The Etihad Stadium to the west of the city of Manchester is todays venue a far more intimate setting, if you can call a stadium intimate, than the Olympic stadium in Barcelona. The crowd nearer to the stage, the stands at the side closer and the roof keeping the electric atmosphere held within. By the time the first band are due to appear the fans are buzzing and you can really feel the electricity in the air.
We have championed Bokassa for over two years now and this tour is doing wonders for their popularity.
Their set starts off much the same as it has on previous dates, 'Impending Doom' leading into 'Last Night (Was A Real Massacre)' but as they progress through their short half an hour showpiece they change things up. With their second album due out any day now they have the material to mix things up and give the fans a different show every night. A few songs from forthcoming album 'Crimson Riders' feature and are lapped up with the crowd. The aggression and the riff's come forth, Jørn stands at the end of the snake pit ramp out in the middle of the crowd grin from ear to ear, watching his fanbase grow in front of him. The band have become more confident through this tour and it shows on stage, this was magical for an opening act.
By now you know exactly what to expect from Ghost, the band are a theatrical musical masterpiece that must be seen to be believed. Frontman, Cardinal Copia, in a crimson red suit commands attention, a demonic priest drawing us into his following. The huge stage dressings and production effects of the usual Ghost shows may be absent in support of Metallica, but the remaining stained glass backdrop sets a tone. Newer material ‘Ashes’ and ‘Rats’ kick off the performance before ‘Absolution’ has the crowd singing along and the pyro beings.
The running order has a familiar feel, which is not a bad thing, a mix of the old and the new. ‘Ritual’, ‘From The Pinnacle To The Pit’, ‘Cirice’ and ‘Year Zero’ all give the fans that familiarity and if there’s anyone out there yet to fall in love with the Cardinal then this performance is surly one to win them over. Their sound a mix of the heavy, the melodic, sometimes even the operatic and then there's the hint of jazz with a unique saxophone solo from the aging Papa Nihil. 'Mummy Dust' has an eerie, dark feel, a different tone to the rest of the set prior to them closing out with the ever popular 'Square Hammer'.
With the formalities out of the way, there is only one band we are all really here to see tonight, the Metallica machine is a well-oiled behemoth and 50,000+ fans wait in anticipation as the sunlight dies behind the clouds, growing ever darker above the Etihad Stadium. As Ennio Morricone's ‘The Ecstacy of Gold’ starts to play five huge screens making the backdrop of the stage flicks into life, a broken image of 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly', movie plays. Metallica's traditional intro tape causes a wave of excitement; the time is now!
'Hardwired' kicks off the set, as it has done all tour, the title track to the band’s latest album sending a message this is just as much about the new as it is the old. 'Disposable Heroes' early in the set keeps the
older fans happy with its fast paced aggression more than welcome amongst the thrashers in attendance. "We love you Manchester City" James cries out as he leads us into "The God That Failed". The electronic back drop coming into its own with amazing animated imagery as the band play on. It's at this point the heavens open, we've avoided it all day but the rain falls hard as we sing along to 'The Unforgiven'.
Mid set Rob and Kirk are given the opportunity to shine on their own, the duo play a song from a local band done good every night. In Manchester they picked 'I Wanna Be Adored' by the Stone Roses. Rob asks the stadium to sing a long before he takes centre stage with his own rendition of 'Orion' a tribute to Cliff Burton, who’s image stands tall on the screen behind. This leads nicely into 'One' the wartime classic, pyro bursts simulating gun fire go off Rob's soft bass intro ramps up in intensity. Rainwater jumps off Lars's snare and cymbals with every hit of the sticks as the song builds to crescendo.
An interlude at the front of the snakepit ramp see's Lars switch positions inserting himself front and centre surrounded 360 degrees by the Metallica faithful. A handful of old tunes rock the stadium to its foundations, 'For Whom The Bell Tolls', 'Creeping Death' and the ultimate sing along 'Seek & Destroy' round out the main body of the set.
As the crowd sing for more the band return to fulfil their insatiable appetite. It’s a predictable, but outstanding end to a fantastic set with 'Nothing Else Matters' and 'Enter Sandman' the real crowd favourites closing out an awe inspiring show. Metallica really do put on the ultimate rock and roll show, for two and a half full hours they entertain 50,000 plus people every night, each show different from the last yet no less entertaining. You'll be hard pressed to see a better live show anywhere on this planet at the moment.
**Metallica Images Copyright Brett Murray
**Bokassa image Copyright Matt Veitch