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Added by Central Electronic Brain     November 02, 2017    
 
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Metallica - Manchester Arena, Manchester (UK) - 28 October 2017

The Metallica of 2017 is a different beast to the one I saw at Castle Donnington in August 1985 and can be described now as Hard Rock as opposed to Thrash Metal. In my opinion the 'Hardwired... To Self-Destruct' album is the band's strongest since the seminal self-titled release from 1991. I was looking forward to hearing (and seeing) how the new material would translate to the live environment as all the songs have great energy and a big sound.


Metallica Live 1

The Arena in Manchester was the scene of a monstrous tragedy earlier this year and the signs of destruction are still evident. Security is much tighter, resulting in longer queues, but it was good to see so many people in attendance, with only music and a good time on their mind. The temperature inside the venue was toasty to say the least, and by the time I made my way into the main arena it was packed. AC/DC's 'Long Way To The Top...' signalled the start of the show before 'Ecstasy Of Gold' announced the arrival of the four seasoned protagonists to the stage, which was set up centrally rather than at one end.


Metallica Live 2

There were very few spare seats to be seen and those standing at ground level all had a great view, never more than fifteen yards or so from the stage – however, taking photographs was trickier than usual as there was no pit. Fortunately, my height enabled me to get some decent shots over the sea of arms (and phones held aloft) and enthusiastic fans in front of me. The opening one/two was taken from the 'Hardwired...' album and my expectations were realised and any doubts instantly banished. The title track and 'Atlas Rise' were both heavy and in-your-face. The sound was the best I've ever heard at this venue, with every instrument and vocal as clear as crystal. 'Seek And Destroy' followed quickly, ensuring there was no let-up in the intensity.

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Newer and older songs proved to be comfortable bed-fellows and every one was greeted like a long-lost friend by the frenzied throng. James Hetfield changed microphones for each song, allowing everyone in the crowd equal face time, whilst Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo prowled the rest of the stage, using all the available space to its fullest. It is difficult to isolate highlights because every song resonated. The rig above the stage comprised of multiple screens that descended and ascended during the course of each song, usually accompanying the music and themes. It was a spectacular feature that did not dominate or detract from the music or the band. Lars Ulrich's drum kit was set up centre stage but was manipulated so that it could face different parts of the crowd at regular intervals and he took every opportunity to stand and encourage the twenty thousand extra singers. Trujillo and Hammett conducted a 'Don't Look Back In Anger' sing-along that proved to be a fitting tribute to the atrocity suffered by the city, and though I generally sigh when bands that visit Manchester launch into an Oasis song, on this occasion it felt right I suppose.


Metallica Live 3

Initial ticket prices for the show were quite high (and ridiculously high on some of the re-sale sites), but on leaving at the show's conclusion I don't think anyone felt short changed. Metallica played for around two hours and twenty mins and they played close to twenty songs during that time. They played all the tracks you wanted them to and that included seven from 'Hardwired....' and a cover of Queen's 'Stone Cold Crazy'. 'Sad But True', 'Creeping Death', 'For Whom The Bell Tolls', 'Master Of Puppets', 'One', 'Nothing Else Matters' and 'Enter Sandman' all sounded fresh and were played with fierce gusto. One of the most important Hard Rock acts of the last thirty-five years showed they still have plenty of life left in them and during a post-show pint I found myself wondering why I had only seen them once before, over thirty years previous.

Dave Bott


Metallica Live 4

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