Live review: Metallica (SSE Hydro, Glasgow)
- Henry Northmore
- 27 October 2017
Heavy metal titans crush all before them, with strong support from Norwegians Kvelertak
Metallica are heavy metal behemoths. Since their formation in 1981 they have torn apart the rule book and taken thrash from the underground to the mainstage at Glastonbury. They made extreme metal accessible, adding melody and a dash of prog (particularly on their magnum opus 1986's Master of Puppets) to their fire and fury.
Before the main event tonight, Norway's Kvelertak bring the doom and punk attitude to the Hydro. Vocalist Erlend Hjelvik, a sweaty half naked wildman, enters the arena with a huge taxidermied owl perched on his head. James Hetfield himself is a big fan, accurately describing them as 'savage high energy Wykingz'. Hjelvik's guttural vocals in their native tongue just add to the otherworldly off kilter vibe but unfortunately their efforts are slightly blunted by muddy sound and echoing reverb in the half empty Hydro.
By the time Metallica take to the stage the venue is packed. Tonight the band are performing in the round, slap bang in the centre of the Hydro, on a stage that resembles a giant Ninja shuriken. The screens above the stage flicker to life with images from Sergio Leone's classic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly as the band do their customary entrance to Ennio Morricone's The Ecstasy of Gold. Then it's heads down, as they power into 'Hardwired'.
Over the years Lars Ulrich has taken plenty of flak for his drumming skills, but he is (literally) the beating heart of Metallica, the glue that binds the band together. A permanent grin plastered across his face, Ulrich's exuberance and enthusiasm turn this dark journey into the world of thrash into a full on party.
Papa Het is on fine form, growling and snarling his way through the set; Kirk Hammett's dexterous guitar licks are still a joy while Robert Trujillo is like a mini-Hulk stalking the stage with his ultra-low slung bass. A half formed guitar and bass jam from Hammett and Trujillo (that goes nowhere) is tonight's only misstep.
A Metallica gig is a full body experience. Unsurprisingly the older material hits hardest. 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' is like a lightning rod pumping electricity into the pit. 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' and 'Sad But True' are like rolling thunder crushing all before them. 2016's Hardwired... to Self-Destruct captured the classic Metallica sound and the newer cuts slot seamlessly into their set, particularly 'Moth Into Flame'. Tonight it's dedicated to Amy Winehouse, before the stage opens up to release a fleet of mini drones that dance like fireflies above the stage. The 3D light cubes suspended from the ceiling are incredibly clever, constantly transforming, projecting weird and varied images – the display of ticket stubs from old Glasgow gigs is a nice touch during 'Seek & Destroy'.
They end strong with new bruiser 'Spit Out the Bone' and a weighty double bill of 'Nothing Else Matters' and 'Enter Sandman'. Powerful and intense, Metallica are still at the top of their game after 36 years.
Seek & Destroy
Harvester of Sorrow
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Now That We're Dead
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Halo on Fire
Blitzkrieg (Blitzkrieg cover)
The Memory Remains
Moth Into Flame
Sad but True
Master of Puppets
Spit Out the Bone
Nothing Else Matters
The remastered re-release of Master of Puppets is available from Fri 10 Nov.