November 18th was a pretty special day for Metallica, their fans and Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett. First up the day was celebrated with the arrival of the bands momentous 10th studio album, ‘Hardwired to…Self- Destruct’. The twelve song album has received positive reviews and many are saying it is the best effort from the band since 1991’s legendary Black album.
The date also coincided with Kirk Hammett’s birthday as he celebrated being 54. And finally Metallica the biggest metal band on the planet played in London to just 600 fans at a venue called House of Vans which is set underground and bricked in. Seriously you’re expecting to see the ghost of Jack the Ripper around here.
As I was standing waiting for the band to come on I had a recollection of when I was lucky enough to see them play a similar low key show at the now defunct LA 2 club in London back in 1995. Back then twenty one years ago they opened up with a Budgie cover song ‘Breadfan’. So I was stunned that two decades on in a small club setting they did exactly the same thing.
Right from the beginning the band much like their new album was on fire. James Hetfield as ever led them dressed in black and birthday boy Hammett looked like he didn’t want to be anywhere else but performing. Lars Ulrich wore a black beanie hat and now has an even thicker beard. Robert Trujillo who has been with the Californians for 13 years had fun, played hard and pulled faces throughout.
The sublime ‘The Four Horsemen’ was followed by ‘Battery’ which was enough to shake this crowd up, many had come to film the show on their cell phones but were reminded that we were at a Metallica gig. And this show was turning out pretty special. Entry was by luck of the draw though fans did have to pay around $30 at the door but that money went straight to charity for the Railway Children to help disadvantaged kids in the UK, East Africa and India. So we got to go and see our heroes and do something beneficial at the same time.
As far as hearing material from the new album admittedly the majority of the show was filled up with old classics. But we did get English live debuts of ‘Atlas, Rise’, ‘Moth into Flame’ and ‘Hardwired’.
Always a crowd favorite ‘Sad but True’ was followed by a superb solo from Hammett which did feel extra special given what day it was. The inevitable shouts of ‘happy birthday’ rang through the brick walled venue.
Further classics followed in the form of ‘One’, ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ and ‘Enter Sandman’. Final song of the night was ‘Seek and Destroy’ which featured members of Metallica and their crew throwing birthday cake at Hammett. The guitarist looked a little stunned as he was covered in which icing.
Metallica may have been doing this now for 35 years but there is freshness to the band that is hard to explain. Whilst some say they should be winding down as they reach their mid-50’s it looks like on this evidence the world will see plenty more of Metallica for years to come. They quite simply were phenomenal tonight and they are set to blow everyone else away the world over with their 2017 tour to support their new album.