at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 27 and 29, 2023

METALLICA (Live at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 27 and 29, 2023)
Photo: Alex Reis

METALLICA Debut their M72 World Tour with Double Show in Amsterdam at the Johan Cruijff ArenA

This last week, Metallica have kicked-off their new world tour in support of the surprisingly good new album, 72 Seasons in Amsterdam. With a whole-city takeover and plenty of activities for a fan to take part in, a merch stand with a 3-hour-long waiting queue, and 2 show nights, things couldn’t be looking brighter for fans.

A whole set of VIP packages and ticket types is on offer for every date in this very spaced-out tour, with the next show set to take place only on 17 May in Paris, leaving the met boys some time to R&R at home, and letting the crew take their time to set up camp in the next site comfortably.

Anywhere they roam, a fresh concept and an exciting stage

All concerts in this tour are a double-date – 2 days, no songs repeated between them, and new opening acts each day. This is a first for Metallica, and an interesting change in pace, allowing them to access a lot of their back catalog, but also forcing the band to prepare a big total of 32 songs for each location.

The stage is a big feature on this tour, with a round design and a hole in the middle for the “snake pit” – an exclusive area where fans can really become part of the show and see the band up-close and personal. This had last been a feature of the stage in the Black Album tour, and it’s a very welcome throwback to what was probably the best period the band ever had live, fire injuries aside. Next to that, the band has on offer the.”Lux Æterna Platform”, which houses eight people, literally at the stage.

METALLICA (Live at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 27 and 29, 2023)
View from the stands, first ring. Photo: Alex Reis

Metal Express Radio’s Alex Reis has experienced both dates, April 27th sitting on the stands, and April 29th from the Snake Pit. Very different experiences, as he will try to relay here.

April 27th – Night 1

  • Reviewed from: Stands, ring 1

With the show set to start at 8 pm according to Ticketmaster, and it being a weeknight with rush hour traffic, our reviewer has departed from Belgium a little later than what would allow for watching the opening acts, aiming for a 8:30 pm arrival, just as Metallica would be set to take the stage. To everyone’s surprise, Metallica had taken the stage at 8:35 pm, with opening acts starting before the 8 pm time stated on the tickets, and communicated nowhere, leading to much confusion.

Walking into the stadium, the familiar tune of  AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock’n Roll)” was blaring through the PA, followed by Metallica’s classic opener, Enrico Morricone’s “Ecstasy of Gold”, this time with the movie it was made for, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” playing on the multiple turrets scattered on eight corners of the stage.

The seat at the bleachers is comfortable, but the distance between the seat and the stage is still huge, despite being in the first ring. While it is a huge triumph that the stage can be seen from all sides, being sat this far from the action makes it as though you’re actually watching a small sized hologram at the distance, rather than feeling like a part of the show. The fact there was a turret blocking the line sight of the closest mic stand on stage didn’t help that feeling. Sound quality could’ve been better, with PA speakers installed at the turrets as well as line arrays floating on wires, but none of them pointed at our position on the curve behind what would’ve been the home goal for Ajax (Amsterdam’s soccer team)

Out of the dark and silence following the opener, comes Rob Trujillo with a familiar bass riff – it’s “Orion” being played for the first time in 12 years as the first song in a Metallica set. Lars, lifted into his position on the set together with the drum kit, joins the party, and soon after him follow Hammett and Hetfield with their blaring guitars. The crowd goes wild, singing the lead guitar lines back at them, in a strong back and forth of excitement.

On comes an onslaught of classics to kick-off the night, showing that Metallica aren’t here to shove the new album down anyone’s throats, and care more about giving fans what they came for. “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, and Black Album deep cut, “Holier Than Thou” follow, crowned by Load crowd favourite “King Nothing”, played in the Netherlands for the first time in 24 years.

After asking the audience for permission to play a new song, the band proceeds to present “Lux Æterna”, a flawless execution, including Hammett’s solo, who by the way is playing the best he has in decades, both live and on 72 seasons. The song, even if lesser known for the audience than most on the set, sparks good energy from the whole stadium, showing that Metallica can still put out an arena banger.

It is quite stunning to see that despite age catching up with them, the band delivers so much energy on stage, and executes everything very well. Lars Ulrich does not spare a single drop of sweat, and bangs the drum with reckless abandon. James Hetfield is singing at his very best, leaving any worries about his vocals being “too clean” from the Load/Reload tours far behind.

72 seasons single “Screaming Suicide” follows in its live debut, with the same amount of energy from both sides and stellar drumming performance from Mr. Ulrich, despite what the naysayers might claim.

The stage goes dark, and an atmospheric intro accompanied by blue-ish imagery in the screens leads the way into Ride the Lightning classic ballad “Fade to Black”. The perfect synchronization between all band members, despite the physical distance between each one is quite amazing, and you can tell these guys have been doing this for the longest time.

In the last “interruption” to the stream of classics and deep cuts from Metallica’s extensive back catalog, the band debuts “Sleepwalk My Life Away”, which one could think is Papa Het’s favourite out of the new record, based on how much excitement he’s bringing out while delivering the merciless thrash metal riffs of this one using his white ESP EX guitar.

“Nothing Else Matters”. and “Sad But True”, both fan favourites from the Black Album, are executed to perfection and bring down the house, setting the stage for 15 year old Death Magnetic‘s “The Day That Never Comes”, which is thoroughly enjoyed by the crowd.

After another short interlude – get ready, here come the deep cuts! “Ride the Lightning” with lots of blue lightning featuring on the screens follow, and then, believe it or not, a full rendition of Master of Puppets classic ” Battery”, acoustic intro and interlude included, with the dueling guitars in the interlude being the highlight. Hetfield and Hammett put on quite a show, engaged the audience and delivered a stellar performance throughout, including one of Hammett’s hardest solos in Metallica’s catalog.

“Fuel” cranks up the heat, with pyrotechnics galore and making clever use of the stage’s multiple cylinder-shaped screen turrets as fuel gallons, turning up the heat for the grand finale.

METALLICA (Live at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 27 and 29, 2023)
James Hetfield, seconds before having to dodge flames during “Fuel”. Photo: Alex Reis

The show ends with crowd favourites “Seek & Destroy” and “Master of Puppets” without any breaks for an encore. James says his goodbyes for now with “Metallica loves you! And see you on Saturday”.

April 29th – Night 2

  • Opening acts: Ince Nine Kills, Floor Jansen
  • Reviewed from: Snake pit (stage center)

New day, new chance to see the band up close and personal, this time from the snake pit. Arriving comfortably early (or so he thought?), our reviewer arrived at 7 pm, and headed to the merch stand outside in the hopes of scoring a t-shirt with the concert poster on it. After queuing for 40 minutes, he only walked away with a generic tour t-shirt, as sizes weren’t available for most designs, and the concert poster t-shirt was completely sold out – bummer.

Walking into the stadium at 7:45 pm, the final sections of Floor Jansen’s rendition of The Phantom of the Opera were playing – betrayed again by Ticketmaster’s information on start times! And what a rendition it was, together with male counterpart Henk Poort as seen on TV. One can’t help but wonder why Nightwish ex-bandmate Marco Hietala didn’t make an appearance for this unique opening slot with her.

As our reviewer walks into the field, it becomes clear this will be a very different experience from Thursday. There is plenty of access to every singing point in the stage, and armed with the knowledge from where in the stage things tend to happen from Thursday, he was able to position himself aptly to catch a glimpse of every band member as they pass by.

After a 30 minute wait, “It’s a long way to the top” starts playing, followed by “Ecstasy of Gold” and then a most pleasant surprise – synth sounds that resemble the beginning of “The Call of Kthulu” play, and onto stage comes Rob Trujillo playing the initial notes of the Ride the Lightning instrumental. The whole gang shows up and surfaces at different points of the stage, executing with the same level of energy displayed on Thursday.

Close encounters with the band are frequent, with Rob, Kirk, James and later on Lars’ drum kit being literally in front of us, extending their arms at times for the occasional handshake, and throwing picks, drumsticks and the occasional spit at members of the audience.

METALLICA (Live at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 27 and 29, 2023)
Photo: Alex Reis

Other highlights of the evening include deep cut “Leper Messiah” from the Master of Puppets album, “Until it Sleeps” – played live for the first time in 16 years, “The Unforgiven”, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” and “One”, the holy trinity of Metallica ballads, all played to perfection. “One” gets extra pyrotechnics with gunshot effects and fireworks, as well as the – very hot – flames!

METALLICA (Live at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 27 and 29, 2023)
James Hetfield playing “Harvester of Sorrow”. Photo: Alex Reis

“Harvester of Sorrow”, another deep reach into …And Justice for All, left the audience surprised and some of the fans, this reviewer included, in utter heavy metal bliss. This song has been a fan favourite, and one that is rarely indulged into these days by the band live.

METALLICA (Live at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 27 and 29, 2023)
Rob Trujillo and Kirk Hammett live in Amsterdam. Photo: Alex Reis

“Moth into Flame” is ushered with pyrotechnics and all to represent for 15-year-old Death Magnetic, to the crowd’s sheer enjoyment. The song might not be an oldie, but is sure becoming a classic.

A lot of firsts awaited fans of 72 seasons this evening, with “72 seasons”, “If Darkness Had a Son”. and “You Must Burn!” all being played for the first time in front of a live audience. If this audience is anything to go by, Metallica has definitely done something right this time around, the crowd knows the words and enjoys the songs very much.

Speaking of deep cuts, “Fight Fire With Fire” was another very pleasant surprise on the set, played in its entirety, and showing that Kirk has definitely spent the pandemic days at home practicing. What a performance!

Crowd pleaser “Whiskey in the Jar” surprisingly incited the most engagement of all songs this evening, with the crowd singing enthusiastically along to the words, but also to the melody. The band reveled in the energy, putting out what was possibly the best performance of the night.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and what a better way to seal off a 2-day Metallica madness than with their top hit, “Enter Sandman”. They bring down the house, and proceed to give the crowd an inspired speech.

We are Metallica, and so are you

– James Hetfield

METALLICA (Live at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 27 and 29, 2023)
Metallica thanking the crowd in Amsterdam. Photo: Alex Reis

METALLICA at Johann Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Setlist Night 1

  1. Orion
    (First time as an opener since December 10, 2011)
  2. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  3. Holier Than Thou
  4. King Nothing
  5. Lux Æterna
  6. Screaming Suicide (live debut)
  7. Fade to Black
  8. Sleepwalk My Life Away (live debut)
  9. Nothing Else Matters
  10. Sad but True
  11. The Day That Never Comes
  12. Ride the Lightning
  13. Battery
  14. Fuel
  15. Seek & Destroy
  16. Master of Puppets

METALLICA at Johann Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Setlist Night 2

  1. The Call of Ktulu
  2. Creeping Death
  3. Leper Messiah
  4. Until It Sleeps (First performance since November 3, 2008)
  5. 72 Seasons (First time in front of a live audience)
  6. If Darkness Had a Son (First full live performance)
  7. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  8. You Must Burn! (live debut)
  9. The Unforgiven
  10. Wherever I May Roam
  11. Harvester of Sorrow
  12. Moth Into Flame
  13. Fight Fire With Fire
  14. Whiskey in the Jar
  15. One
  16. Enter Sandman


  • Alex Reis

    Alex is a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, born and raised in Curitiba, PR, Brazil, yet living in Antwerp, Belgium, since 2010. AC/DC was his first intro to Rock and Metal, but Metallica and Iron Maiden were the turning point for his love of the genre. Alex has played the guitar since he was 14, and has been an aspiring musician ever since.  Also serving as lead guitarist and vocalist for Belgian/Brazilian Hard Rock outfit SSC, Alex and co. have released a single a few years ago, but are yet to follow with a full-length  release that's been 20 years in the works. When Alex is not writing for MER or making music, he works at the Belgian tech scene, having served as CTO and other technical roles in numerous startups and organizations.

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