(review by Neil Crud)
Whereas the backroom of The Dudley Arms is more my domain where you can see the bloodshot whites of a band’s eyes, the opportunity to see Metallica was one I couldn’t let slip. Not that I’ve ever been a fan of the band, they passed me by while I was plying my (non)trade in 4Q, playing grimy pubs and clubs across the country. The closest I got to this mutated form of thrash was supporting the likes of Cerebral Fix, Bolt thrower, Carnage and Metal Duck. So to enter the arena that is the MEN where the band definitely isn’t within spitting distance was quite a culture shock.
With Tim and Rhys as my able bodied chauffeurs we skulked through the damp streets of Manchester, up the steps, queued for a £3.50 pint and headed to our mosh free seats high up above the centred stage as Machine Head were searing through the latter half of their set. With a name like Machine Head my pre-emptive mind had conjured up images of a Killing Joke-esq grunge band, and had I had the time I would’ve done some homework on them. I was wrong, it was metal and the 4 sided stage didn’t really work for them. Did they play Metallica’s Creeping Death or did just imagine it?
So I envisaged a damp squid for the main band, because of the stage – picture a boxing ring the size of a small field. I was of course wrong, the stage was perfectly designed for Metallica, although the giant coffins suspended above them that would move around during the set was very Spinal Tapified – perhaps 27 years of superstardom has clouded their judgement of what’s amazing and what’s naff, and the coffins were boderline!
Kicking off with a myriad of laser beams a la Pulse era Pink Floyd to great effect we were treated to impossible key changes, frantic blasts and non-stop entertainment. And 20,000 mainly balding punters showed their appreciation while I worked out the math and sussed out that ticket sales would have grossed nearly £800,000 – not bad for an evening’s work eh! You don’t get that kind of return on the door at The Dudley!
Smatterings of the new album Death Magnetic was renditioned and played alongside against the classics, but for me it was nearly all new, so I could watch and listen with an open mind, and it did open to the task and enjoy the whole event as a spectacle rather than as a fan. I’m not likely to rush out and buy the album or another for that matter, but for the forty notes I parted company with for the ticket, I didn’t leave feeling short changed. The added bonus was seeing a couple knock seven bells of shit out of each other a few seats across as they violently rowed over something – peace sells but who’s buying, oh shit sorry, that’s Megadeth innit!!
Excellent pyrotechnics blasting from the stage floor, that somehow didn’t fry the band to a crisp as they criss-crossed from one side of the stage to the other to face another section of the audience and kick start another bout of bone crunching mosh action.
All in all – superb, I even recognised Enter the Sandman, Seek and Destroy and the Puppet one. Nice one!