at Globe Arena, Stockholm, Sweden, May 4, 2009

Metallica. Road dogs. For a band like Metallica, the gig is law; you don’t break it. Sure enough, very seldom has Metallica cancelled shows. Curiously enough, the cancelled Stockholm show back in March isn’t exactly the first time misfortune has struck Metallica in Sweden; Stockholm will always be known as the last gig the band performed with the late, great bassist Cliff Burton. When they did make their return to Sweden afterwards with replacement Jason Newstead in tow, equipment issues stopped the band from playing. And, of course, fast forward to March 2009 and the by now infamous bad oysters incident, causing an ill front man James Hetfield and, another, cancelled show. Whatever the deal is with Metallica and Sweden, Metallica was never the band to give up, and determined to make it’s second stop on it’s World Magnetic tour in Sweden’s capital as good a triumph as the first one, even came armed with free T-shirts at the entrance and the possibility for a free download of the show for each visitor.

L “That Was Just Your Life” sees the band anonymously lurking in a dark setting, walking round the center set stage accompanied by lasers. While the last ingredient is effective, on a whole the visual impact doesn’t match the power of this fast paced opener, and the show feels as though it really starts when stage lighting sets to the contrary as Metallica launch into “The End of the Line”.

Newest member Robert Trujillo already looks sweaty enough as he lays down the classic bass riff to “For Whom the Bell Tolls”; one of several songs performed this night that attendees did not get to hear in March. And, of course, this is one of Metallica’s traits nowadays: their spontaneity and willingness to change the set rather dramatically night after night: no less than eight songs differed this night from the previous Stockholm show. As a mega band, Metallica are somewhat unique regarding this matter in a genre where many artists are way too set in their ways. Even Death Magnetic offerings gets switched up a bit, as “My Apocalypse” and “Judas Kiss” replaces “Cyanide” and “All Nightmare Long”. The audience doesn’t offer much response to “Judas Kiss” which is a shame as it’s the best track, on what is a great album.

L Having the stage set in the middle, feeling of intimacy is more notable than what is customary in an arena, and likewise special effects aren’t aplenty, aside from the lasers and odd flames; bombs used to accompany the intro to “One” was indeed more telling.

The emphasis is on the band and the interaction with the audience, who on this night actually broke attendance records at The Globe, fittingly just a week after the 20th anniversary of the venue’s initial opening. And, of course the mentioned unpredictability of not knowing the exact set list beforehand adds to the curiosity and even keeps the jaded fans on it’s toes.

“Holier Than Thou” is a good example; a seldom performed song from the utterly successful “black” album; the mere surprise of hearing it is actually greater than the actual song itself, whilst “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” isn’t anywhere near the set standard as it used to be, thus the intensity adds up as Hetfield shouts “Stockholm…just leave me alone!”. Of course the crowd would not obey, and the roar is deafening during the quiet intro of “The Day That Never Comes”, which seems to go down as the best of the Death Magnetic material on this night. L

Response is the strongest for the immortal “Master of Puppets” and the songs that appeal to the mainstream portion of the audience; clapping hands in the air during “Enter Sandman” gives the imagery of restless ants moving all over the balconies, and the sing along for “Nothing Else Matters” really requires a minute without the earplugs to soak in the atmosphere. Indeed, arena participation magic at it’s finest.

The ever inclusion of the tedious “Sad But Tue” has to be questioned though; it’s built around a main riff that’s Black Sabbath hang-over material and that Tony Iommi himself would likely throw in the can. Surely the likes of “The Thing That Should Not Be” and “Leper Messiah” are better choices when it comes to the bone-crunching side of Metallica material. “Blackened” is always a joy, though Jason Newstead’s presence is sorely missed in this song; as great as he otherwise is, Trujillo could never match his predecessor in the vocal department. Kill ‘Em All goodie “Motorbreath” speeds things up nicely towards the end; a nostalgic glimpse backwards for those who first encountered Metallica as spotty youngsters.

LThe Metallica of today are performing much better than they have done in quite a few years. Sometimes, in order to grow stronger and move forward, you have to hit rock bottom; which was shown all too well with the hideous St Anger and the documentary Some Kind of Monster that accompanied it. Looking at where Metallica are now as an entity and it’s a whole different scenery alltogether. The band’s focus looks perhaps the strongest it has been for some twenty odd years, and their display of joy as a live act is obvious proof.


Set list: That Was Just Your Life, The End of the Line, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Holier Than Thou, One, Broken Beat and Scarred, My Apocalypse, Sad But True, Sanitarium, Judas Kiss, The Day That Never Comes, Master of Puppets, Blackened, Nothing Else Matters, Enter Sandman

Encore: Frayed Ends of Sanity (intro riff)/Am I Evil, Motorbreath, Seek and Destroy



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