The O2 London! one of the most state of the art arena's in the world, set in the heart of the city underneath what looks like a truly huge flying saucer shaped tent! a very unique venue for Metallica's latest port of call on their collossal World Magnetic Tour. Both the venue and the transport links near to the venue are excellent, but I had problems with my main line train, so I unfortunately missed most of the support act sets, The Sword and then Machine Head, I did hear that Machine Head's set was truly immense, so I was very sorry that I missed them. On entering the arena, what strikes you is the true immensity of the place, a fabulous auditorium, I was sat up in the gods on level 4, but still had a great view of the 'in the round' stage with its spider armed PA speakers and amazing lighting rig.
The time was nigh for some Metalli-mayhem, the band was expected on stage at dead on 21.00pm, but the minutes ticked by and still no Metallica. The masses in the arena gathered impatiently, a legion of metal heads awaiting their heroes... then at around 6 minutes past nine, the lights dimmed and the chords from their stage intro tape The Ecstasy Of Gold struck up, bringing a huge roar from the Metallica faithful!
Then we were off, the heart beats and huge riffage of That Was Just Your Life began, the stage lights dark apart from the small spotlight on guitarist / singer James Hetfield, impressive laser light patterns kept time with the music as the song continued, eventually all the lights came on to a collective roar from the Metalli-fans! The band then smashed into another new track The End Of The Line from the new Death Magnetic album. The crowd were really into the new material, singing along and seemingly impressing Hetfield with their loudness. One of my fave tunes was next up, Creeping Death from the classic Ride The Lightning album, the standing audience punched the air and sang along to the truly classic tune. The excellent 'in the round' stage design offered the whole arena audience a great view of the Metallica lads, with Hetfield swapping microphone positions around the stage, guitarist Kirk Hammett very lively indeed and bassist Robert Trujillo prowling the stage with musical menace. Drummer Lars Ulrich pounded his awesome Tama drum kit with total ferocity, his drum riser occasionally turning positions, so as to give the whole arena a great view of his playing. Some criticise Lars's playing, saying he's not technical enough etc etc, but as a drummer myself I can appreciate what a great player he is, with great feel and passion, with incredible double bass drum precision, there are few better out and out metal drummers than Mr Ulrich, how he plays night after night with that aggression is incredible!
They surprised with their next track, the superb Holier Than Thou from the Black Album, pounded the fans into delirium, a brilliant song, Hetfield snarled the lyrics as the crowd sang along, classic stuff. Metallica then cleared the stage as the lights dimmed, it was time for One a monolithic track from the ...And Justice For All album, the stage show seared eyes with terrific pyro and explosions, as James started the song with mournful guitar, they had the whole audience in their hands, a brilliant performance.
New tracks Broken, Beat And Scarred and Cyanide followed from the latest album, the lighting rig was exceptional, with four moving giant coffin shaped rigs shifting around, sideways, high and sometimes very low over the top of the band, I would have been very nervous playing underneath those rigs for fear of a faulty cable! The band then ripped into a massive Sad But True the crowd singing along to every word and having a good old headbang into the bargain, its one of my personal fave tracks. Then followed a big, big surprise, the cover of Bob Segers Turn The Page from their covers album Garage Inc, a brilliant song about the loneliness of life out on the road.
Then it was back to Death Magnetic for another new track All Nightmare Long, I saw the video of this song recently on music television, very original video, catch it when you can. Another new song was next, The Day That Never Comes, again one of my favourite tracks from the new album, the crowd excelled in the sing along, and the band excelled in the amazing second half of the song which is an all out metal jam of titanic proportions, its already a Metallica classic in my book. The next track oh joy of joys was the full length uninterrupted Master Of Puppets! The Metalli-fans went truly wild, me included, as we sang along and punched the air to this fabulous song, its got to be one of the best ten metal tracks ever, the riff itself is one of the greatest. James sang one line, then let the crowd sing the next, the O2 Metallica crowd should be very proud of its exceptionally loud singing!
The stage went dark and the orchestral guitar intro from the start of Damage Inc struck up, what a track! Violent and so so sing along, yet another heavy metal classic, truly brutal stuff from the Metalli-boyz. I hadn't seen them play this song live since I caught their Black Album show way back in 1992 at the NEC in Birmingham, so it brought back great memories.
Robert Trujillo is a great bass player, it can't have been easy stepping into the place of predecessors Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted, but he looks as if he's been in Metallica from the very start. Kirk Hammett's guitar playing was as excellent as ever, he simply shreds with the best, he played a fabulous red & white flying V guitar on a couple of songs and was tonite christened Kirk 'the ripper' Hammett by Hetfield! Refreshingly there were no drawn out, long tedious arena style solos, just the odd little doodle from Kirk before the start of a new song to give the rest of the band a short breather.
The great James Hetfield then struck up the opening chords to Nothing Else Matters, Hetfield is one of the great metal frontmen, with terrific vocals and a unbelievably precise guitar style, he was most definitely on top form at the O2 tonite, he jokingly said that the audience response was so good that Metallica may well come back! (they return to the O2 again on 28th March on the current tour). The crowd got even louder on the thunderous Enter Sandman one of their break through crossover tracks from the early nineties.
The lights went down as the band left the stage, the crowd praying for an encore, prayers that were soon answered by another surprise track by the Tallica lads, a cover of the Motörhead track, Too Late, Too Late (which Hetfield dedicated to their old friend Lemmy), led into a monstrous Seek And Destroy from their debut album Kill'em All, a classic song with a truly classic metal riff. The band eventually left the stage to massive applause, a great night was had by all, Metallica totally ruled the O2 tonight and showed that they are still a world class rock band with a great deal left to offer, they sent the fervent Metalli-fans home with big smiles and with great memories of a terrific evening.