Photo Copyright © Jo Forrest
Having sold millions of records worldwide, while many of their rock counterparts bring the curtain down on their lengthy careers, there seems to be no finish line in sight for metal behemoths Metallica. Bringing their Worldwide tour to the Etihad Stadium, home of English Premier League Champions Manchester City, the band were joined by over sixty thousand rabid fans some of whom had travelled across Europe to be at Metallica’s first mainland UK gig since their last headline tour just over eighteen months ago.
Gigs like these are business as usual these days for Metallica whose hardcore fans have proved time and time again that they will follow them through thick and thin. As their familiar intro booms into life and the band thunder into opener Hardwired To Self-Destruct, the metal giants demonstrate how they could play gigs like this in their sleep. Not that the band are running on auto-pilot or going through the motions, far from it, as the likes of The Memory Remains and a pummelling Disposable Heroes show. While there are some glaring absentees from the set, it’s hard to fault the set they’ve picked with Moth Into Flame laced with pyros, Sad But True shaking the stadium to its core and One sounding as epic as ever.
Towards the end of a near three-hour set, the band hit the proverbial musical ball out of the park with the likes of Master Of Puppets, For Whom The Bells Toll, Creeping Death and Seek & Destroy taking this night heading to it’s glorious finale in the form of Enter Sandman a track which thrust Metallica into a whole different league to the rest of the metal scene and has, for the last twenty or so years had them calling packed stadiums like this one home!
First up though was Norwegian punk rockers Bokassa who jumped on this tour at the personal request of the headliners. With a huge longtime fan in drummer Lars Ulrich, the punk rockers might have been forgiven for being nervous in the kind of environment they had been thrust into, but there was no such sign from the band who, despite playing to a still filling stadium, grabbed the opportunity by the horns to impress the Metallica fanbase. Having been on the road with Metallica for a few weeks now, the Norwegians are settling in nicely to this dream opportunity and are making enough noise to guarantee at least a few Metallica fans head to the bar making a mental note to check out their upcoming new album.
Ghost on the other hand are almost veterans at playing arena sized venues so, as the doom-pop Swedes stride out onto the stage, they already have the attention of the crowd. Strutting confidently around the stage, while the spectacle and aura is somewhat lost in the mid-evening sun, the band certainly have a few diehards in the vast crowd. Plunging through their back catalogue the likes of Absolution, The Pinnacle and The Pit and set closer Square Hammer rumble around the stands of this impressive stadium with Cardinal Copia and his army of nameless ghouls delivering the kind of service most of these fans would happily attend again.