Live Music + Gig Reviews

Metallica @ Wembley Stadium, London

8 July 2007



“It’s a little different in here to how it was yesterday,” observed Metallica‘s James Hetfield with a wry smile. He couldn’t resist passing comment. Wembley Stadium at full concert capacity can house 95,000 people. Bar Muse, it has had to contend with a risible list of occupants in the past month: George Michael, Supertramp, Status Quo, Fearne Fucking Cotton. Yesterday, Hetfield and his bandmates had to share a Live Earth bill with the likes of Johnny Borrell and Corinne Bailey Rae. Today it’s for a headline show with Mastodon and Machine Head. (Ok and that HIM bloke).

If any clarity was needed for that now easily bandied term, ‘rocked Wembley,’ today was a working example. From the opening of Creeping Death to the final curtain of Seek And Destroy, our seats shook. There was something of an indicator of this earlier on, when they were quite happy to give their support bands a full kick of the PA. Mastodon failed to really grasp this, exuding more determination at executing their tech-orientated metal than delivering it with the might of a Metallica PA.

Standing in for Bullet For My Valentine, Machine Head’s Rob Flynn savoured the moment, as he led his band through a bruising fifty minutes. Their return to thrash has won them an army of fans, rendering the Burning Red days all but a faded love bite. While the latter portion of the set merged into one, they had much of the 65,000 in attendance fist pumping in unison.

Quite which direction Metallica are heading for with their next album was, and still is, the subject of much speculation. Billed the ‘Sick of the Studio Tour,’ there was no new material aired, and the two-and-a-half hour set drew heavily from their early days. Which of course ain’t a bad thing, but it didn’t bode for the intense studio sessions they had been undergoing either.

It also seemed this occasion, like the two before, Metallica they had aged rapidly, and erred ever so slightly closer to a comical Maiden existence. Setting aside hawking runs around the stage from Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich’s face, and a keg full of testosterone-speak, they played harder and faster than I had ever seen them do so before.

While it was a little disconcerting to hear a backing tape fulfil the intro to Battery, they stormed through it as they had done through Master of Puppets just moments before. The fireworks, pyros and explosions that ushered in One resembled that of a Hollywood studio, while Disposable Heroes, a mesmerising Orion and thrash classic Whiplash raided the live rarities cupboard.

If this was a simple exercise to get outdoors, stretch their legs and crack a few stiff joints, for therapy, it sure did the trick.

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