Metallica at Sonisphere 2014 review
'A stellar closing set'
Somehow burnt festival faces only make the force of the black t-shirt masses even stronger, and every Iron Maiden clad
body from last night appears to have switched to Metallica
items this evening for the Sonisphere Sunday headliner.
Don't go making yourselves bankrupt for Metallica though, with some pretty beefily priced Basketball vests (£90... who brings a spare ninety quid to a festival?!) and the utterly ridiculous 'Metallica Frisbee' (£10. Seriously guys, you chuck a Frisbee at a festival, you're never getting that back. You may as well throw the tenner into the wind) up for grabs at the merch stalls.
After a stunning and almost ethereal set by Saturn stage prog gods Dream Theatre, a booze-mellow and sunbaked crowd gather at the Apollo Main stage for a night curated by themselves - Metallica: By Request. Metallica's usual 18 song set has been hand picked by poll for ticket-holders (minus one song chosen by the band) prior to the event and promises to be a very interesting and different set to their standard live shows.
Before heading to the stage, Metallica warm up in the back of a giant black truck kitted out with black curtains and rope lights like some kind of strange metal Santa's grotto. Raring to go and with an expectant crowd in front of them - the seemingly endless 'By Request' VT is a rather uninspiring way to start a show and doesn't build hype for the performance as much as offer a first opportunity for people to Boo Lars Ulrich.
The band hit the stage with 80's hit and Master of Puppet's opener 'Battery', but something is amiss with the sound. It's not the kind of cut out experienced by Reel Big Fish earlier today, but it does make everything fuzzy like listening to it through a tin-can-telephone. Happily, Hetfield yells "Are you alive? No, are you aliiive? Tell me how does it feel to be aliiive?" and the band get down to real business with 'Master of Puppets' and the crowd gutterally chant the refrain "Obey Your Master" at their idols.
'Welcome Home (Sanatarium)' is accompanied by VT's on the giant split screens of padded cells and straitjackets, and a gratuitous guitar solo from Kirk Hammett. Another powerful ballad 'The Unforgiven' is absolutely epic with the sun dropping down behind the stage and some serious singing from a field full of quite deep voices.
"Sadly I have to announce..." jokes Hetfield "Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire" which leads straight into fast and furious fan favourite 'Fuel', and a quick look at the vote calculator for the last possible 3 songs is shown to be a close match. Metallica chosen new song 'Lords of the Summer' (which let's face it, does sound quite camp) doesn't exactly hit the mark and goes on for an age, and bringing on random strangers to announce songs is all well and good, but this field full of metalheads clearly doesn't care that 'Kate' with the flowers in her hair is from London or whether she thinks Sonisphere is "ready", and someone nearby yells "Get gone you dirty hippy" as she announces 'Sad but True'.
The incredibly melodic 'Fade to Black' has everyone eyes-closed air-shredding and 'One' ends up sounding a bit like a Sunday Hymn service with all the baritones. 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' is perfectly executed but another yawn-worthy attempt at engagement ends with a sleepy looking 'Craig' (random guy from crowd) announcing 'Blackened'.
Hugely popular, especially in the metal-wedding crowd, is 'Nothing Else Matters' which entices couples to clasp each other and sway, but it's 'Enter Sandman' that has everyone going mental.
Following a short excursion off stage, the Encore is begun with Hetfield explaining "This is my favourite song recently" before starting Irish folk classic cover 'Whiskey in the Jar' to the deafening roar of the crowd. Being founded on folk, Brits love a bit of it here and there, evidenced by the likes of Frank Turner at this very festival. With over 2100 votes (but hotly followed by 'The Four Horsemen') the band are off with '...And Justice for All' before the cracking finale 'Seek and Destroy' which is brought crashing home with some serious fist pumping action and a peppering of black inflatable balls for the snakepit area to bop around.
After half the arena have already legged it for car parks and camping, Metallica finally say goodnight and brandish a snake pit Union flag, and after a show like that, people don't seem to even have the heart to boo Lars anymore. An eclectic fan-picked set saw a large contingent of slower/ballady type songs than the expected two hours of straight thrash, but what the voters want, the voters get... well, in this at least - don't go banking on that in any real elections yeah?
Despite the obvious mayhem that letting other people pick your set probably creates, Metallica manage to put on the kind of set everyone will remember for the rest of their lives - a couple of faux pas sure, but nothing that will really taint an otherwise stellar closing set from Cali's thrash heroes. As if we'd expect anything less.
Master of Puppets
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Ride the Lightning
Lords of Summer
Sad But True
Fade to Black
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Nothing Else Matters
Whiskey in the Jar
(Lena Bourne Fish cover)
...And Justice for All
Seek & Destroy