Metallica

support Ghost + Bokassa
author PP date 11/07/19 venue Parken, Copenhagen, DEN

Despite the fact that Metallica has been a frequent guest on Danish soil in recent years, Parken stadium looks nearly sold out, translating to almost 47.000 Metallica fans on a summer Tuesday. It's warm and sunny outside, so the beers are flowing freely, which should deter some of the critiques over Parken's reputation as the worst-sounding venue in town, plus the giant stage production that Metallica has brought along should make up for some of it. Turns out, none of that lubricant is necessary, as for once, the sound engineers manage to draw out a magnificently clear and crisp sound, at least for those of us standing on the floor. More on that later - let's talk about the support bands first.

Bokassa

Bokassa

First up are the relatively unknown Norwegians in Bokassa. They have an early start at 18:45, where the stadium is still more than half empty, so their roared vocals and generic metal expression disappears as meaningless into the thin crowd. That's not to say the band doesn't do everything in their power to battle the echoing sound: they utilize all the same platforms and walkouts as Metallica has set up, but unfortunately, their material is totally anonymous at least on first listen. "Captain Cold One" is arguably the only one that stands out thanks to its surprising woo-hoo sections that I didn't expect to hear in their stoner-driven metal expression otherwise. But it's just one bright moment in a set that's best characterized as rather dull: the crowd is content to just passively watch along and continue their conversations while Bokassa is playing. Too big of a stage, too early for this band, even with the Lars Ulrich recommendation behind their back.

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Ghost

Ghost

The mystery behind Ghost lost some of its charm with all the drama the band recently went through, but that doesn't mean the band isn't one of the best purveyors of 80s style heavy metal given their unique delivery of the style through a dark wave/ synth lens that some might call more suitable for the Melodi Grand Prix than a metal show. If you ask me, the charisma-laden, confident stance of Mr. Ghost himself is a sight to behold as he prances around the stage in his red suit and drenched in white makeup. He kind of looks like a Dracula from the Transylvania tales in front of the big cathedral (which, despite its size, looks minuscule compared to the Metallica setup behind it), while the remaining band members are all dressed in black and wearing silver masks to conceal their identities. A small amount of pyro-effects and explosions tastefully adds some oomph to their otherwise soft, almost pop-rock take on metal, as does the brief appearance of a Pope to play some saxophone whilst pretending that he's too old to stand and has to be held up by security guards left and right. Overall, Ghost's set is surprisingly energetic and best described as solid sermons of heavy metal dressed in 80s darkwave and synth effects. It's not quite the midnight mass you've come to expect in other shows, but with songs like "Faith", they prove they can handle stadiums just as well as arenas, and slowly win over the crowd through a charismatic, convincing set.

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Setlist:

  • 1. Ashes
  • 2. Rats
  • 3. Absolution
  • 4. Ritual
  • 5. From the Pinnacle to the Pit
  • 6. Faith
  • 7. Cirice
  • 8. Miasma
  • 9. Year Zero
  • 10. Mummy Dust
  • 11. Dance Macabre
  • 12. Square Hammer

Metallica

Let's spend a moment talking about just how ridiculously big the Metallica stage production is. Kirk & co look basically like tiny toy figures next to the walls of LED screens that are surrounded by the lightning-style M and A from the MetallicA logo. We're talking almost as tall as Parken itself - or so it feels like as soon as they turn on as the band begins their set with "Hardwired". At this point they are keeping it tight and small - almost like a statement that "we know this is new, bear with us", but it's a pretty good song so there are good vibes in the crowd straight away. But what follows next is a song that's not played too often anymore these days: "The Memory Remains" from the much discussed and critiqued "Reload" album in 1997. Yeah, forget about the critics, here we have an immediate stadium-wide sing-along of the kind that only the biggest and best rock/metal bands are able to achieve.

Metallica

"We're playing some new stuff... just played Hardwired... some middle-stuff like Remain... and now some old stuff", Hetfield says and the band kick straight into a trio of older material: "Ride The Lightning" is followed by "The God That Failed", where the giant video screens display an animation of a murky graveyard juxtaposed against the band members playing amongst it, and then "The Unforgiven" unleashes yet another enormous sing along throughout the 47.000-strong crowd.

It's now been three years since "Hardwired..." was released, and we've heard "Moth Into Flame" quite a few times live since then. Based on the crowd reaction and on the sheer strength of the song, I think it's about time we admit it to the classics category in the Metallica repertoire, don't you think? At least the Parken audience seems to think so.

Metallica

"I know Copenhagen likes it heavy...", Hetfield teases us, before "Sad But True" transforms 47.000 people into one of the heaviest and most thunderous sing-alongs I've heard to date. This is the kind of stadium-wide communion of metal that pop artists are simply unable to match, as the band's tight, spot-on delivery is matched by crystal clear sound (in the standing part of the arena, the sound was crisp throughout), a first for me at Parken. Then we hear "No Leaf Clover" from the symphonic album "S&M"! Didn't think I'd get to hear that song live ever, so that's awesome, before another rare track, "Frantic" from the much scolded "St. Anger" album takes over and drowns the stadium in lasers racing in all directions in yet another a spectacular production effect.

Metallica

Then it's time for some (in my opinion rather pointless) gimmicks: the band plays D-A-D's "Sleeping My Day Away" and a couple of bass and guitar solos (including a bit of "Orion"). All is forgiven though, because we then hit the usual batch of classics with "One" leading to "Master Of Puppets", "For Whom The Bell Tolls", "Creeping Death" and "Seek & Destroy" before the encore. That's quite a string of hits, and they are all supplemented with masterful effects. "One", for instance, has fireworks being shot as a part of the anti-aircraft fire found in the intro, with lasers complementing the effect nicely. "Creeping Death" sees Lars Ulrich's drumset being moved to the middle of the catwalk, with the back-burner pillars transforming into giant pyro-effects just when you didn't think it would get any cooler.

Metallica

Finally, the band finishes off with "Spit Out The Bone", "Nothing Else Matters" and the usual "Enter Sandman" to finish off a set. Great sound, tightly played songs, amazing effects and stage production, and a set that lasted well over two hours in length...what more can you ask? Metallica is on fire and if you thought them having played here so many times over the years was gonna be another day in the office, well, they just gave a powerful statement that Metallica is still one of the best bands in the business.

Setlist:

  • 1. Hardwired
  • 2. The Memory Remains
  • 3. Ride the Lightning
  • 4. The God that Failed
  • 5. The Unforgiven
  • 6. Here Comes Revenge
  • 7. Moth Into Flame
  • 8. Sad but True
  • 9. No Leaf Clover
  • 10. Frantic
  • 11. One
  • 12. Master of Puppets
  • 13. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • 14. Creeping Death
  • 15. Seek & Destroy
  • --Encore--
  • 16. Spit Out the Bone
  • 17. Nothing Else Matters
  • 18. Enter Sandman

Photos by: Stefan Frank Thor Straten

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