So much of a blast in fact that I had to take a day off work to recover from three nights of excess. Well not that I'm getting hammered at every gig I go to, but what with the odd beer or two, food, standing around for hours and lack of sleep in the night..well you get the picture when you're not far from 50!
Things started off on Friday at the Electric Ballroom with Inglorious and Wayward Sons. A night of great new British classic rock. I saw Inglorious earlier on this year at a special release show and was blown away by lead singer Nathan. The big lad's voice is just something else and it was a no brainer to get a ticket for this proper tour date. The Ballroom was completely rammed so I wasn't the only one with that thought. Easily a 1000 if not more. The first band I didn't like too much but I never caught their name. They were meat and potatoes rock/metal.
Next were Wayward Sons who's album I really enjoy. They are fronted by Toby Jepson ex of Little Angels, a band I never actually liked. But I liked WS a lot. They play good time swaggering rock with a big riff and a big attitude. Very fun stuff and the Angus Young like goose stepping by Toby was quite fun to watch. Very nice warm up!
then it was time for Nathan and co to really start the Rock! And boy did they do that. The sound was absolutely perfect and the band sounded shit hot. It's all about Nathan and that voice though. The guy is a bonafide star but boy does he cuss a lot on stage! Tone it down mate, there's old people in the crowd not used to that many F bombs lol!
Anyway the Friday night crowd was pumped, the band was hot and the songs were epic. From speedier run throughs to slower blues based rock which I normally wouldn't like but I'm telling you this guy Nathan can sing any old crap and make it sound good. Great night and two more nights yet to come.
On to Saturday we go and a night of the lighter and fluffier side of rock with the London debut of Brother Firetribe supported ably By Shiraz Lane at the Borderline. This is not a big venue by any means but it was packed full to 300 and everyone was in the mood for a party. Shiraz Lane, pronounced Shira Lane with no "z" as I found out started things off pretty well with their energetic pretty boy edgy melodic rock. The lead singer's voice was a bit high pitched and whiny but the band rocked. They had the energy and look to be stars and a decent set of tunes. New single Harder To Breathe was particularly great.
At 9 o'clock sharp the BF boys took to the stage and immediately there was a look of amazement on Pekka's face as they launched into Help Is On The Way as the crowd was well into it. Indelible Heroes followed with complete singalong. You can't go wrong with that one-two! Cert KO. Pekka is quite a funny guy on stage whilst Nightwish man Empuu does the classy riffs and solos. Keyboards sounded very loud and centre stage in the mix of course. Heart of the Matter was great. There's not any real duff songs. Not a huge fan of slow burner Shock. Taste of a Champion again has everyone singing their nuts off so to speak hehe! Last four songs of the main set were all incendiary. I'm on Fire a big highlight. Pekka forgot the words to one song, I forget which but who cared, no one. Main set ended with the magical energetic Heart full Of Fire and everyone really let loose on that one.
Just a one song encore I am Rock. Not a bad song but another one would have been nice since there was still time until the 10.30 curfew. Pekka said they'd be back and let's hope it's not another 15 years this time!
Paid through the nose for a ticket so they better be good right? Actually they were more than good. I think they sound better now than in quite a while. James looks lean and mean and even his voice is acceptable these days though not perfect. he still has a tendency to change the odd melody slightly which throws the sing alongers as they sing it how it is on the record.
The support was Kvelertak which are like Hetfield's fave band or something. Must admit I don't like their black n' roll much but they actually sounded pretty cool. A few nice riffs here and there though I don't care for those vocals. Not sure they were that well appreciated by the Metallica diehards and the older members of the audience either. It's more for people who can just about stomach black metal and then watch it be bastardised into a Motorhead wannabe band.
Special mention for the stage which was set in the middle of the Arena giving everyone a great view. The stage set was pretty elaborate with video cubes dropping up and down as each song is played with various effects and videos. pretty cool and I guess that's what our ticket price went on haha!
The guys start up a storm with the thrash fest that is Hardwired followed by Atlas Rise. Pretty cool start and every one is rocking hard from band to crowd. Sound is heavy and crisp as hell which always helps. Seek and Destroy's stomp follows and the old schoolers get to have a field day before newer songs are played. Must admit Dream No More's super heavy stomp sounds quite cool even though I find the song boring on record.
new songs go down OK and even well but still the majority just wanna hear the classics. Now That We're Dead is notable for its 4 man drum section played on cubes with drum pads on I guess. I loved Through The Never. That is one underrated Metallica cut that's for sure. Sanitarium is very cool of course and everyone sings the guitar parts. Fuel doesn't do much for me at all but has energy but I would have preferred a track from Death Magnetic even. The last 4 tracks of the main set are full on crowd pleasers. Moth Into Flame is perhaps the best cut from Hardwired and then there's the lumbering hulk of SBT which literally everyone either sings to or wrecks their necks with. The epic One follows followed by Master which obviously gets everyone's air guitar out for the umpteenth time.
A triumphant four punch end leave the band to leave and return for a three song encore. Two of which were obvious with the other being perhaps the best song of the night for me. Namely Damage Inc. Man that was cool as hell to watch Hetfield ripping thrash riffs and spitting lyrics like a 25 year old again. The following two were played a gazillion times NEM and Sandman closed the set. Whatever, great tunes but personally I far prefer the Unforgiven to NEM. SAndman has to be played whether anyone likes it or not but by this point beers have been drunk, hair has been splayed and air guitars smashed so no one gives a shit really Light has exited and night has eneterd so to speak! Even at the death they tease out the riff to Frayed Ends just to say "Gotcha thrashers!"
Metallica gets a lot of flak coming their way and their ticket price is getting a little out of hand but they still deliver the goods. Kirk ain't the best and Lars is Lars but I don't listen to Metallica for those guys it's all about the main man Het. The guy is adored like a metal God when he stalks around pumping those bad riffs out macine gun like. The glory days maybe over but they aren't a fading force quite yet either. Lars spoke at the end and said Metallica have been playing London since 33 years ago and have played in and around the London area around 30 times and that they've only just started! Obviously he was having a laugh but there's still a little bite left in the old dog yet as the band looks meaner and sharper than they've probably done for a while. I guess healthy old age living helps. Not sure about Lars's old man knees and back though! :-)
The Ecstasy of Gold
(Ennio Morricone song)
Seek & Destroy
Through the Never
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Now That We're Dead
(with extended middle drum solo with all)
Dream No More
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Halo on Fire
(followed by Kirk & Rob's solos with London Calling, Immigrant Song and Anesthesia Pulling Teeth)
Die, Die My Darling
Moth Into Flame
Sad but True
Master of Puppets
Nothing Else Matters
(with 'The Frayed Ends of Sanity' outro)