METALLICA 2008 WORLD TOUR
Show Date: May 28, 2008
Location: Chorzow, Poland
Venue: Chorzow National Stadium
Reviewer: Fat Peter
Band Website: www.metallica.com
Before anything is said and written, let me state this. I live in a country in Eastern Europe and we don’t have many top U.S. metal bands coming here. We had Def Leppard playing about four years ago, and the all new Guns N’Roses (basically Axl and his new “guns”) two years ago, but that’s about it. I don’t need to explain that a gig by Metallica is really a treat in our land. You kind of start to like these guys simply because they gave a shit about your national middle of nowhere.
On the 28th of May Metallica invaded Poland with a gig at Chorzow National Stadium, undeniably the biggest concert venue in Poland. The event generated a huge buzz all around the country. You could read about it in newspapers and see it on the six o’clock news. The tickets were sold out somewhere about a month before the concert. I was one of the lucky 60,000 souls to get the tickets and sacrifice some time to attend this event.
It all started at about 4 p.m., but the stadium was crawling with people hours before the show. And I don’t mean only the Stadium dome, in which the concert later took place, but all the area around it which is a huge city park, almost a forest. At the time the first band started to play you could easily trip on someone lying in a drunken stupor. The park looked as if it was a battlefield full of fallen souls, who didn’t survive the onslaught of alcohol. Then again you couldn’t expect lemonade at a Metallica concert, could you?
At about 4 p.m. the first band of the evening took the stage. It was a virtually unknown outfit from France called Mnemic. The guys did their job well, but at this point it was clear what would be the problem of this evening: The equalizers emitting the sound from the stage to the crowd really sucked. You couldn’t really hear the vocalist. Not that anyone really cared for the first opener. Only hardcore metal fans recognized their songs.
This wasn’t the problem though with the next act of the evening. About 6:30 p.m. the stage was taken by none other than Machine Head. Now this band really ripped the stage. The guitars shredded, the drums were pulverizing, and the vocalist was ripping his throat out and trying to interact with the crowed at the same time. He even threw some water on the crowd, which was pretty much boiling at the time.
At one point I couldn’t shake the feeling that a lot of people came to see Machine Head rather than Metallica. Anyhow the guys ripped. The only problem was, yet again the sound quality. The front man really screamed his lungs out, but people in the back could hardly hear him. I hadn’t really heard Machine Head before, and don’t really care for their brand of prog infused trash metal, but I know a good band giving it all to please the fans when I see one.
Anyhow, another short break, and the headliners took the stage. Then everybody went wild. It was like you just found yourself in the middle of a war zone. I felt like I being squeezed in a crowded bus, and somebody suddenly screamed “pickpocket”. Everybody was jumping up and down, screaming their lungs out and generally having one hell of a good time.
Metallica was in top shape. A lot of people say that their time come and went, but I must admit I witnessed a band that really put on an effort to give the best show they could. Drummer Lars Ulrich kept the beat perfectly, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett nailed the solos like a true professional, and the bass monster Rob Trujillo was playing like a madman. You really have to see him to know what I’m writing about. This guy looks like a cross between a gorilla and a giant cockroach. More than that he plays bass very powerfully, using his fingers instead of a pick. The effect is awesome. You can really say he is a great bassist.
They all were great, but the king of the stage was James Hetfield. This guy truly is a master front man. His huge stage presence is well matched by his on stage personality. The guy not only has a voice like a dragon, but he’s always on the move, interacting with the audience perfectly. Between the songs he took some time to address the crowd, and didn’t screw up one word. Needless to say people loved every moment of it.
The set list consisted mainly of classic Metallica material. The majority of stuff came from their 80’s albums, ‘And Justice For All’ and ‘Master Of Puppets’. The audience seemed like they knew every word of every song. I have to admit it was pretty breathtaking to hear 60,000 people chanting “Master Of Puppets” or “Sanitarium”.
During slower songs, like “Nothing Else Matters”, you could see a crowd of lighters and mobile phones flashing in the air. There was only one song from their ‘Load/Reload’ era, “Devil Dance”. The band also didn’t touch any material from their controversial ‘St. Anger’ album.
The highlight of the show was the pyro. At one point before the song “One” the stage literally erupted with flames and explosions. People standing close to the stage told me that they felt the heat on their faces. If you closed your eyes you could imagine you were on some kind of battlefield.
Metallica played for somewhere around two hours. They had a three song encore, closing the set with a bit of a sluggish rendition of “Seek and Destroy”. After it all ended, at about midnight, they greeted the crowd and promised to come back to our little country soon (then again, everybody does).
All in all it was one of the best concerts I have seen this year. The bands were top notch, the people were cool, and the atmosphere was great. The only problem was to get back to the train and travel back home. The trains were stuffed to say the least. Needless to say that traveling several hours, standing on each other all tired and sweaty, is not rally a fabulous treat. But it’s a small price to pay for such a great performance like Metallica gave out.