Metallica

support Volbeat + Mnemic
author ASH date 13/07/07 venue Vestereng, Århus, DEN

Ahh, my first gig review. I'm feeling like I'm slacking behind, though maybe it's just my paranoia about me not working hard enough despite having summer vacation. Anyways, I did find time in my schedule to travel to an open field called Vestereng in Århus, which would soon be transformed into a rendezvous point for a metal militia consisting of 50.000 metal addicts, all looking forward to be blown away by James Hetfield and co. Surprisingly, not everyone's completely black or plastered with band merchandise, as it was easy to spot out everyday working moms and dads hanging around for some youth nostalgia.

Atmosphere-wise; the weather's great, any liquid's expensive as always and the suiting large concert stage warms us up with some Rage Against The Machine, Pantera and a little Guns 'n' Roses, a well thought choice in musical yoga for rockers. Soon after, the majority of the audience is suddenly drawn into the crossfire between the Aalborg based industrial metal machine Mnemic and the sound systems. Maybe a little too surprising, since it was like someone throwing a grenade into the crowd and hoping that they'd begin running. Heck, when has metal not punched first and asked if it hurt later? In all its might, Mnemic's first shot "Liquid" went well into the front rows, making them jump around, shouting what devilish phrases they should need to get out of their systems. Sadly, it didn't reach anyone else, who found beer and social interaction a little more interesting, which along with the curiously high amount of distortion made Mnemic look more like synchronized headbanging chimps than an actual band. Very cliché-ish. "Ghost", preceding the last song, awkwardly made their appearance into one that had an overall good beginning that then ended up in a downward barbed-wire spiral, which just did its job of filling out 30 minutes of waiting time.

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Next up were the already well-known Elvis-metal band Volbeat, who like at Roskilde began with the exact same welcoming track as an attempt to draw the crowd's attention away from the beer stands and back to the scene...which worked, of course. It IS Volbeat after all. To those of you who saw them at Roskilde like me, I'll just fold my cards and say that you wouldn't have missed anything, nothing at all. Well, the sound quality had improved a little, but the volume had at the same time been turned drastically to the west, making Volbeat fade a little in their shiny Johnny Cash-alike armor. Nevertheless, they greatly connected with the audience as always and showed quite some respect to both Mnemic and Metallica, which instantly received positive feedback from the audience. After repeating the same playlist consisting of tracks like "Radio Girl", Caroline Leaving" and "Sad Man's Tongue" everyone was just pleased with their performance, even though the explosive feeling of a well-placed bass drum punch in your guts was completely absent. And as the cover of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Wanna Be With You" sung itself by lovebirds and lead singer Johann G. Olsen from Magtens Korridorer sang his part of "Garden's Tale", Volbeat turned out to be the great sing along, be happy band to anyone with green Royal flowing through their veins. Not amazing, but definitely not bad.

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Now, everything that we've been waiting for is coming on stage in just half an hour. Everyone's rushing to the stands, getting more beer, more food, even more beer and just one or two band shirts before hell breaks loose. First off, the sound check. Drums kick out teeth, check! Same with the guitars, check! Bass takes over your heartbeat, great! And we're ready...For an old western movie? The screens were finally turned on and we witness a confused Mexican as he wanders through a cemetery, followed by Metallica starting the show with "Creeping Death". Vestereng turns into one large shout, and yes, Metallica's "fucking here!". But there's more creeping death to come, as the band progresses to "For Whom The Bell Tolls". The sound suddenly disappears, and only the front rows can actually hear what they're playing. A minute that felt like an hour passes, and the excited shouting from the audience is replaced with "boo's" and disappointment, which was taken to a higher level as Metallica leaves the stage! It just couldn't get any worse and some not so die hard fans were already beginning to leave the field in protest.

But after a long pause of around 20 minutes, the band re-enters the stage and continues with "Wherever I May Roam". Thank you and lets hope the sound crew got drumstick or two thrusted down their throats for this mistake. After the song, James Hetfield completely regains the trust of the audience with a well-placed joke about Ulrich's running make-up and that he has to "look perfect for his audience". A little flat, but both the attempt and hearing an ocean of people laughing is evidence enough. Time passes with "Disposable Heroes" and another blazing riff from Kirk Hammett. Nothing really original, since we all do know that he's great and he definitely knows it. It's a little cliché-ish, but Metallica wouldn't be Metallica without him showing off. To put it simple, there was nothing new to this metal gargantuan and nothing was really a musical letdown. Everyone was pleased with hearing "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", "Memory Remains", which the whole audience sang until it faded out and got replaced by "No Leaf Clover". Not anything noticeable and really unique, even though every sound produced by any of the band members was as good as expected.

Luckily, bassist Robert Trujillo had a secret weapon up his sleeve in the form of a pulsating, almost jungle-rhythmed bass solo, which clearly impressed and refreshed my views and definitely also the surrounding audience. And as the band honored the memory of deceased bassist Cliff Burton with the song "Orion", "Fade To Black" was quickly forgotten as "Master of Puppets" took the whole crowd as willing hostages. Of any songs that can turn any male into an air guitar shredder, this would be the absolute. The "first" part of the already amazing concert was ended by "Battery", of course. But so far I had already noticed that they would probably not be playing anything from "St. Anger". The album was far from great, but some tracks would have dropkicked this evening, so it was like missing just a little something. With a second part consisting of first "Sad But True" and then "Nothing Else Matters", the concert had already reached its peak of performance, but as "One" freaked everyone out with real stage explosions, smoke effects and war sounds, it was all just turned up a notch once more, ending in fireworks and "Enter Sandman", which included even more fireworks. And of course, even after this, Metallica re-returned for their encore tracks "Whiplash" and "Seek and Destroy". Gladly pleased, half-drunk and half-deaf, everyone ventured off the field searching for chance to get home without waiting hours for the next bus. A very good concert, even though it could've have had just a little more "new" to it. Thank you for the memories, I say.

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