Birmingham. Genting Arena. Metallica. Those four words will make an Monday blues non existent. And oh boy was it a show and a half. Hold on as we review these titans of rock.
Next it was into the main arena for the onstage support. Kvelertak . The first thing that struck the eyes was the stage. Only a huge centre stage with the already amassing crowd piling round it. The BLANK six piece made their way onto it to a good reception and began blistering through their set. I'd never really head much of their music before, however it didn't take long to have me head banging along to their catchy and heavy riffs with a jaw dropping combined vocal team between them. It's no surprise that they have been picked to support an arena tour, however what puzzled me was the audience reaction to them. Very little movement and cheering. Perhaps it was just still a little early in the evening, starting at 7.20. But soon the entire group floor packed in and it was time for the main event. The pioneers of heavy metal, so much so it's in the name, Metallica.
I'm was really going to try not and delve into every single song, but frankly the set was pure highlight after highlight. Bursting full of absolute classics and also sprinkled with new tracks, the Californian four way took their sweet time and filled the well over 90 minute set full of music. Speaking of four way, after an extreme opening (featuring the amazing Hardwires, Atlas Rise and Seek and Destroy), the crowd was treated to ' The Shortest Straw' a first for the band since 2013. As it slid into Welcome Home the (I'm going to call them Tele-Cubes) lowered and were filled with one of the creepiest effects I've ever seen at a show, showing someone trying to break out of them.
Cubes seemed to be a little bit of a theme for the night as during Now That We're Dead, four appeared on the stage and BOOM. We were suddenly watching the Blue Man Group. By that, I mean there was a four-way drum solo from all members. I honestly thought I'd seen it all, I was very wrong. The crowd was absolutely loving the whole spectacle, and they gave the band the atmosphere they seem to thrive on. With high amounts of banter with the crowd (Claiming the next song was a little too heavy for us, joking they claim royalties from fan tattoos and even managing to embarrass a 15 year old on the front row by talking about his parents), the entire experience was interactive and felt intimate, even at the Genting.
There seems to be a large amount of variety on this tour, in both songs and events and tonight was no different. As Lars and James left the stage Kirk and Rob gave an amazing rendition of Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs' with the crowd singing along. This was followed with a great bass break which showed clips of former member Cliff Burton on the cubes (thank you for pointing our our original error!). These video cubes, I know I keep barking on about them, but the visual set up for this tour was spot on. From Fan Drawings during Am I Evil on all sides of the cubes to the drones lit up like moths during Moth into Flame. And I can't mention flame without talking about Fuel, in which a ring of pyro kept spurting out around Lars! As the set came to the end, there was a slight audio hiccup, due to a blown PA (I said they were loud). But the band powered through and left the stage after an incredible version of Master Of Puppets.
Anyone who has even heard of Metallica could have guessed 2 out of three of the encore songs, but the inclusion of coming back to Spit Out the Bone was genius and is set to be a staple in their future setlists. As the crowd went mental to 'Nothing Else Matters' and the set closed with 'Enter Sandman', the cubes lit up with one of my favourite touches of the night, Union Jacks. Metallica, come back anytime. No scratch that, come back tomorrow. And the day after. You are (literally) show stoppers.