GIG REVIEW: An Evening With METALLICA Live at Genting Arena, Birmingham
As expected, the return of Metallica to UK shores is always a big deal, especially considering that this is their first run of shows in this country since early 2009, and also because it is the first opportunity for most people to hear new songs from the band’s tenth full-length studio album live. Metallica brought along with them Norway’s favorite contemporary metal band Kvelertak as direct support.
For a band that came on about an hour after doors, Kvelertak delivered a respectable performance despite them, if I have to be honest, not being the reason the vast majority of people were there in the first place. But on the plus side, it was definitely the best I’ve seen them be over the course of the few times I’ve seen them (at Download Festival this year, and opening for Slayer almost two years ago now). Their blend of extreme metal with AC/DC-style hard rock/rock and roll seemed to go down well with the audience who had gathered early, even if most of them were not familiar with the songs themselves.
“Ecstasy of Gold” kicked off the next 2 hours or so from headliners Metallica, who unsurprisingly had managed to pack the entire arena almost to the brim. The opening track “Hardwired” transitioned immediately into “Atlas, Rise!” (no surprises there) while “Seek and Destroy” and especially a consecutive one-two punch of “The Shortest Straw” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” definitely did its job in pleasing people who prefer classic 80s Metallica (aka most people). That being said, the band’s focus was definitely on promoting their almost one-year-old album ‘Hardwired…to Self Destruct’, which was accomplished by performances of “Moth into Flame”, “Halo on Fire”, an encore opener of “Spit Out the Bone” and others. The usual big hitters of “One”, “Master of Puppets” and “Enter Sandman” (the first of which was temporarily halted by a short power cut) rounded things off.
I went in with significant expectations and standards to be met when it came to Metallica’s performance, and they were definitely met, but they were also definitely not exceeded. Towards the end of the main part of the set, the energy level from the band definitely felt like it was on a rapid decrease and that they were striving to get to the end just so that they have a short break before the encore. Tributes to Cliff Burton in the form of “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)” and Black Sabbath and Diamond Head in on-stage jams of “War Pigs” and “Am I Evil?” respectively were some of the more memorable moments, but I do feel like the setlist and the overall show would have benefited from just one or two more songs from ‘Kill ‘Em All’ to ‘…And Justice for All’ era Metallica being in the setlist. No “Creeping Death”, no “Fade to Black”, no “Battery”…you get the idea.
I feel like I’m being a bit too harsh on Metallica, but fortunately the positives definitely outweighed the negatives. The band’s performance itself was totally professional and from what I could tell lacked any sort of significant hiccups in terms of how they were playing – even Lars. The power cut was resolved after almost no time at all and at the end of the day it was just a brilliant show by one of the best bands in the world, ever. Despite what people might tell you about Metallica and especially them as a live band in 2017, ignore all that. Go and see them, because they are good…very good – an undeniably enjoyable night with one of heavy music’s finest contributors.