Culmination Of A Week With The Kings Of Thrash: Metallica Are Still The Biggest Out There!
Copenhagen, Denmark, February 9: Four nights in one week culminated tonight, with a band and audience on fire, and a show of no less than epic proportions!
Royal Arena – Copenhagen’s brand-spanking new arena with room for up to 16000 people, was inaugurated on February 3rd with a massive four-show marathon, by the biggest metal band in the world. It didn’t happen without its pitfalls though – James Hetfield and Kirk Hammet was plagued with sore throats and general fatigue from both being ill, so the first show wasn’t the success that everyone had hoped for. The second show on the 5th. was canceled, but the third and fourth show both proceeded as planned. Flick Of The Finger Magazine attended the fourth and final show, and this proved to be a show that will surely be remembered as legendary.
After the Danish support act, Defecto, had finished their show, a fired-up audience was eager to get the show on. The big square stage, placed in the middle of the massive arena, had a floor that doubled as one big LED display! In the ceiling, a similar arrangement hovered above the suspended speakers, along with a few big displays. Wiser from the accident in 2008, Hetfield & co. had wisely chosen another approach for effects – instead of pyrotechnics, they had a few massive halogen bulbs. One on each side if the stage. And when I say massive, I’m talking about a bulb that is 40cm across, and 60cm high. Combined with steam cannons, this arrangement was a fine and more safe substitution.
The band came up the stairs to the now classic Metallica entry-tune, Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy Of Gold”. The four rockstars looked ready. The audience was ready. It was as if everyone in the building knew beforehand, that they were gonna witness history tonight. As Lars Ulrich set the bar pace from his raised drum podium in the center of the stage, Hardwired To Selfdestruct blasted through the speakers. Standing in the photopit, my knees rubbed against the row of subwoofers that surrounded the whole stage, and I could feel every note shake my legbones, and the stagemonitors were close enough that I could hear Hammet’s raw guitar sound rip through the PA. Hetfield seemed well. He had clearly overcome his earlier throat problems, and he was clearly enjoying himself.
As Creeping Death roared through the air, the audience just. went. nuts! The classic Ride The Lighting track originally recorded right here in Copenhagen, were swiftly followed by the massive For Whom The Bells Tolls. I had Hammet standing 3 feet in front of me, rocking his signature CryBaby Wah pedal. I felt his energy. I felt the history of this icon of a band, shake my skull as those easily recognizable tones ripped the place a new one. Ulrich beated those drums as if the world was going to end, and after some very nasty mistakes during the first show, where everyone seemed to play worse than sloppy, tonight was tight as hell. The few mistakes here and there was very easy to forgive. If anything, it reassured us all that this was indeed live!
Some say that Metallica are greedy. That they only play to make money. Well if that was true, on a night like tonight, they’re sure hiding it well! If it was remorse over the chaotic first show, or the cancelled second show, that could be discussed, but tonight it was clear from the first note to the last, that James, Rob, Kirk and Lars, were here to play the crap out of the new arena, and it indeed felt like they played for us, that they were here to give people a lot more than what they paid for.
Those show-starters were followed by a not-too-long set of classics, mixed with the new from Hardwired… As they served us one carefully selected tune after another, and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) were released by Now That We’re Dead and Atlas, Rise, Trujillo had a very nice surprise for us: A bass-solo, but not just any bass-solo – he played Cliff Burton’s immortal Pulling Teeth (Anesthesia), a beautiful and very rarely played tribute to the legendary bassist, and it was played with as much passion as Burton would’ve done.
As the bass-solo drifted towards its end, the eerie intro to The Call Of Ktulu was initiated by Hammet, followed by Trujillo with closed eyes and a bass that sounded like a cello, to much of the arena’s delight. Then there was One, then there was Master Of Puppets, which ended with Kirk Hammet doodling around on stage alone with his guitar, and ended the whole thing in true Hendrix style, by making guitar noise by grinding the strings on a mic-stand, his butt, his back, Lars’ drum kit, the drum podium, before throwing his guitar across the floor so it sled into the pit, and almost hit a sound engineer. The guitar still being in tune, Lars came on stage, and they had a jam on Leper Messiah, before Hammet had to get his brown Les Paul out, to start Fade To Black with the rest of the band.
Hetfield was now in his usual chatty mood, and said, “You know, I only have to say one word…..Seek…”, and everyone roared “…and Destroy!!”. Instead of starting the song though, James had a chat with the audience and asked who had seen Metallica before, and who was ‘Tallica Virgins. After a few buuhs (and James telling the buuhers to stop), Seek & Destroy ripped the place up. Trujillo once again shined here – he went into the pit between the stage and the audience and walked the entire perimeter of the stage, while playing and saluting people. What a show!
After a short brake, the encore, which consisted of Blackened, Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman, rounded the party off. Enter Sandman was, by the way, played with all the house lights on, and the band could finally see all 14000 people in the huge arena. The bridge between Nothing Else.. and Sandman was handled by Hetfield on his knees, playing guitar.
I heard a few people complain about Ulrich not saying a few words in Danish (since he is from here), but if that’s the only thing to complain about, then it’s pretty good! (and besides, why should he say a few words, they’ve been here for a week!). This week will be remembered as legendary for a very long time. Four shows, each one sold out. Four Danish bands had won a support slot each, probably fulfilling a childhood dream of being on stage with Metallica for all musicians involved. I think this approach is a fantastic way of giving back to their roots. Instead of touring with an already established band, talented local bands get a chance to be recognized and heard and seen, on those big stages, by a lot of people.
I think that everyone will agree with me when I say that this show in particular, brought a lot of the stuff from the “Live Shit: Binge & Purge” boxset back to us. This year to date, marks the 32 year anniversary of the recording of the Ride The Lighting album, which, together with Master Of Puppets was recorded in a month, right here in Copenhagen, only a mile and a half from Royal Arena’s location. Metallica proved tonight, that they are still the biggest metal band in the world, and the kings of thrash!
Metallica will continue their tour in North America, and you can check out their website, metallica.com for a venue near you.
For Whom The Bells Tolls
The Memory Remains
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Now That We’re Dead
Call Of Ktulu
Master Of Puppets
Fade To Black
Seek & Destroy
Nothing Else Matters
All words and photos by Jakob Muxoll