Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
support I´ll Be Damned
author PP date 07/02/17 venue Royal Arena, Copenhagen, DEN
Tonight was meant to be the third Metallica show in Copenhagen at the brand new Royal Arena at Ørestad, a multipurpose venue designed from the ground up to compete against Jylland's Jyske Bank Boxen and Malmö Arena just across the bridge. James Hetfield had fallen ill just prior to the first show and was forced to cut the set short on Friday and cancel Sunday altogether, but fortunately, he only needed a few days' rest before he was ready to play again.
The modern facility is surprisingly efficient at getting people in through the automated gates (similar to airports) and having next to no queues when buying beer, at least not near the seated section nor on the floor from my experience. Standing roughly 10 meters from the stage I could go out and return with a beer to my spot in less than a minute. That's quite something compared to Forum where you'd stand in line for 10-20 minutes at a time on occasion.
I'll Be Damned
On record, I'll Be Damned songs aren't particularly interesting nor memorable save for a few tracks at best. Live, they're not much better. Hopelessly outmatched by the giant 360-degree arena, the Danish rockers do their best at stirring up something but honestly, most of the crowd is busy chatting away, fetching beer, or simply not yet arrived to care. There isn't much to be seen anyway: the singer wanders casually around the stage and the band delivers a fairly static and forgettable stage show aside from exchanging positions to play toward different sections of the crowd. Most of their self-titled album is aired in a short thirty minutes of rowdy, muscular rock'n'roll, but stylistically their sound is about as generic as it gets on an average Friday night at the local rock'n'roll club High Voltage. Not much interest to your average Metallica fan, in other words.
During the pause, it is apparently possible to watch Metallica warm up via a live feed from the backstage according to the electronic banner stretching across the arena. The lights are turned on to allow us to fully appreciate the complete arena experience that is Royal Arena...which we get to appreciate for quite some time after I'll Be Damned. Almost 25 minutes past the scheduled start time the familiar intro melody of "The Ecstasy Of Gold" relieves any doubt the band was going to cancel last minute. Soon after Lars Ulrich enters as the first one from underneath the stage to thunderous applauds and the riffs kick straight into "Hardwired" off the new album. A warm up of sorts, if you will, because while heads are banging, it's not comparable to the sing-alongs that arrive shortly after with "Creeping Death".
The answer many of us had been asking was: should I have bought tickets to all four shows? It's a resounding yes at least from the setlist perspective, which already at this point is showing signs of difference aside from the mandatory classics like "Master of Puppets" and "One" later on. "As you can hear...we're feeling a WHOLE LOT BETTER Copenhagen!", Hetfield proudly proclaims, and the crowd roars back. Speaking of which, it feels like the whole of Royal Arena truly lights up for "For Whom The Bell Tolls" straight after. Echoing sing-alongs and a festive mood captivates the imagination of most people in the venue, which is only fortified by a collective hum-along to the intro guitars to "Wherever I May Roam".
Above the stage, an M-shaped video is doing it's best to replicate the usual video stories Metallica tends to have them. It ranges from vintage Metallica logos to "One"'s symbolic war visuals, but to be honest it's a little strange to stare at the ceiling rather than at the band themselves. Hetfield & co take good care of rotating around the stage, giving equal time for all sections of the crowd with a halfway smug, satisfied look on their faces. But then again, the band are virtually born to play arenas like these and hold the audience in the palms of their hand throughout the set with an energetic, passionate performance that feels like a polar opposite to Friday's debacle based on our review. Guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo each get their chance to shine with solos; Hammet's is fairly uninspiring but the funky bass playing while trouncing around the stage by Trujillo is actually pretty good.
The light effects range from your standard variety to some fairly impressive lasers that shoot in all directions from the stage, not as crazy as what for example Muse did on their recent "Drones" tour, but enough to keep the arena tour atmosphere alive. Not that they are really needed: unlike some (cough, Green Day, cough), Metallica doesn't need crowd control to cover up for their flaws, even for instrumental songs like "Orion". It's simply enough for the band to pack tightly and intimately around Ulrich's kit to rock out and we're all feeling it. Just before that, "Moth Into Flame" underlines that there are still great songs left in Metallica although it is by far the best track off "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct".
"Master Of Puppets" is, predictably, as awesome as it always is. Pretty much every soul in the venue joins for the "Master... MASTER!" parts and air guitars are getting plenty of, err, airtime in all sections, seated and standing. "Fade To Black" is almost equally loud from a crowd participation perspective, and prompts Hetfield to comment on it: "Do you feel it Copenhagen!? I FEEL IT!", and his facial expression proves that he's having the time of his life on stage. A short encore ensues and the band finishes show #2 off with "Whiplash", a huge arm-in-arm singalong to"Nothing Else Matters", and finally "Enter Sandman" with all lights turned on at the venue.
So what is the overall impression? Very, very good, albeit not spectacular. I'm not fully sold on the 360-degree stage experience, to be honest. It's much like 3D in cinema: little (if any) added value and actually makes it more difficult to put up proper video screens, not to even mention that at times it feels like each band member is playing a solo concert as they are all facing different directions. Either way, Metallica anno 2017 is still in a form that suggests they'll be playing shows like these for at least a decade more, if not longer.
- 1. Hardwired
- 2. Creeping Death
- 3. For Whom the Bell Tolls
- 4. Wherever I May Roam
- 5. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
- 6. Now That We're Dead
- 7. Moth Into Flame
- 8. Orion
- 9. One
- 10. Master of Puppets
- 11. Fade to Black
- 12. Seek & Destroy
- 13. Whiplash
- 14. Nothing Else Matters
- 15. Enter Sandman
Photos by: Peter Troest