Metallica at the Etihad Stadium: Live Review
I hadn’t planned on being here. Then it slowly started to happen. At first it was a trickle of posts on social media but before long it turned into a tsunami - it was ridiculous the number of free tickets that appeared online. But running stadium metal gigs two days after Download ends takes a special kind of band, that band, of course is Metallica.
I missed Bokassa and Ghost completely due to the late nature of my decision to take up the offer; asking a few people around me what they were like, no-one saw Bokassa the conclusion was that Ghost were okay, nothing special, I still would have liked to see them, oh well.
As for Metallica, it’s been 32 years since I caught them at Monsters of Rock at Castle Donington, a performance that wasn’t of a band at their best: the band were still reeling from the death of Cliff Burton and James Hetfield having busted his wrist skateboarding a few months earlier. Life moves on and as we all know they hit the big time with the ‘Black Album’ - it’s a long way to the top of you want to rock n roll!
Enter the sandmen, our mission to Lars is underway!
Excited? Well I am not Hardwired to self destruct, that’s for sure. Marianne Faithful appears on the screen but her voice is lost in the mix during The Memory Remains before they delve deep with Disposable Heroes.
From my seat the sound is like a rubber ball with the bass and drums bouncing all around the stadium, the nature of the beast I guess. The trouble is Tool were so good on Sunday night at Download that my mind keeps racing back to their performance with excellent sound and stunning visuals.
To be fair the visuals here are of a very high quality, the videoing is very well done, and Hetfield is clearly moved by the response from the, I just feel detached from it though, that’s the problem with these mega dome events if your not in with the action.
“It feels so good to be here in Manchester, it’s the best sight” shouts Hetfield as he looks out across the sea of heads and thinks of his growing bank balance. “This song goes out to a good friend of ours” and my mind instantly races to Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and his throat cancer diagnosis - get well Dave, my thoughts are with you.
“Hard Wired to Self Destruct is your favourite album for tonight” shouts Hetfield as the flames shoot from the towers in defiance of the grey skies and rain, maybe it is, certainly beats St Anger.
Well we get justice for all of Manchester as Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo treat us to their interpretation of songs from the city and we get the Stone Roses.... ohhhhhhkay! Bass solo time and visions of Cliff Burton flash onto the screen as Trujillo gets soaked on the catwalk, it’s looking very wet out there.
The lasers are very pretty, and there are a lot of them, but Tool’s were prettier, just saying. And why does everyone cheer the guy pushing a button so flames appear, just wondering?
The best moment so far comes when they visit their thrashier routes with Master Of Puppets sounding truly epic with added poignancy as First World War visuals are shown. Interestingly it suddenly feels colder in here, coincidence?
The close ups of Lars Ulrich are addictive with the rain pouring onto his kit, the sprays as he hits his cymbals and drums is fascinating to watch, the band appear to be drenched.
From where I am sitting Creeping Death sounds a mess – the band including Lars decamp to the catwalk, that 30 feet makes a huge difference to us at the back, NOT! Things improve immeasurably with Seek And Destroy which is firing, it is interesting that the older songs are sounding better in the stadium environment, in fact they are as tight as an ants arse.
The encore is predictable with Nothing Else Matters which to be fair is nothing short of perfect as Hetfield shows off his special Manchester plectrum via a video close-up which will be sure to generate extra sales after the gig. Then the sandman enters and Manchester loses the plot in the rain, we’re all off to never never land.
Despite my unbridled cynicism I have to admit they were pretty good and they did work their socks off in the rain, the older thrash classics being the absolute high point.
And news reaches us today that the band have donated £90,000 to Coffee4Craig, a local homeless shelter – bless their rather wet cotton socks!