Metallica in Hamburg: Thrash fair on the “Catwalk to Hell”

Some Kind Of Monster” is the name of the legendary documentary about the biggest metal band in the world. And that’s what goes through your head on the first evening of this gigantic concert double pack in Hamburg’s Volkspark Stadium. Because that sounds so appropriate. The force, the sheer size, the sewing machine-like precision: James Hetfield and Co. are still setting standards in their 43rd year. 50,000 euphorically celebrated the metal veterans for the incredibly powerful show.

AC/DC and Morricone as an intro. And then: “Creeping Death”. elemental force. At ICE speed. It’s 8:56 p.m., the sky above the arena is as blue as the swaying Metallica fans who had previously passed their hip flasks through the rows on the S-Bahn on the way to Stellingen. The average age here in the arena will be mid to late 40s. They wear black, mostly. And sings: “So let it be written…”

The sound is flawless. The stage is in the middle of the arena and is a kind of circular catwalk. First of all rather unspectacular. But the closeness that creates this is wanted and important. Because Metallica is a gigantic commercial enterprise in its fifth decade of existence. But its success depends precisely on this feeling. And later, as darkness falls, the ring comes to life.

Eight towers with video screens surround the stage ring. The Hamburg skyline could be seen there before the start. And a blood red thrash hammonia with hellhounds. Now there’s Hetfield’s character head. “We are very grateful to be here and very grateful for your support,” he says. “42 years in business – and we’re still having fun. Are you having fun?” Rhetorical, the question, of course.

YEA HEAH! James Hetfield on stage at Volksparkstadion Sebastian Madej

YEA HEAH!  James Hetfield on stage at Volksparkstadion
YEA HEAH! James Hetfield on stage at Volksparkstadion

The band has sold 125 million albums (!) in the course of their career. “72 Seasons”, the reason for the tour, is the first album in seven years. It’s about self-hatred and suicidal thoughts. No scam, that’s Hetfield and his demons. And a band history in which egos often crashed and the alcohol flowed in tidal waves for a long time and almost swept away everything that the still acne-prone band had built up at lightning speed in the early 80s: Mega success with very heavy music.

“Leper Messiah”, “If Darkness Had A Son”, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”. The program is a wild ride through the history of the band. And that the estimated 50,000 here in the stadium also feel the pounding metal swing of such brutal hits as “Harvester of Sorrow”, that’s remarkable.

Lars Ulrich, drummer from Metallica, on stage in the Volksparkstadion. Sebastian Madej

Lars Ulrich, drummer from Metallica, on stage in the Volksparkstadion.
Lars Ulrich, drummer from Metallica, on stage in the Volksparkstadion.

This tour is special. Always two concerts in a row in the same stadium. Both with different programs. On Sunday there is the second Hamburg show. Of course, the tickets cost well over 100 euros. Of course, Metallica had numerous VIP and pit packages put together in order to drive up the margin: They were always business-savvy.

A two-hour triumphal procession

It has gotten dark in the meantime. And time to take a breather. The musicians and drums spin around the stage ring. “The Unforgiven” is coming, uber ballad and uber hit from the black album. Then the heavy blues of “Wherever I May Roam” – and the stadium sings.

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With “Moth Into Flame” flames flare up over the catwalk and into the night sky for the first time. “Whiskey In The Jar” is the introduction to the final sprint, the frontman, who acts very confidently, is accompanied by the Hetfield choirs of a thousand people from the Volkspark. Shell blasts and machine gun fire make the nostrils tremble: the violently thundering anti-war anthem “One” comes. And seamlessly “Enter Sandman”. A triumphal procession. And then it’s over after a good two very entertaining hours. Kind of suddenly. And somehow touching how the smiling gentlemen hand out drum sticks and picks to the fans.

Lately it’s also about taking care of yourself for the metal veterans heading towards retirement age. This tour is played on weekends, between the double packs in the big cities, the gentlemen can relax at home and keep their distance from the eternal tour temptations such as drunkenness and excess.

Buddies in frocks: Two Metallica fans on their way to the stadium. dpa/Markus Brandt

Buddies in frocks: Two Metallica fans on their way to the stadium.
Buddies in frocks: Two Metallica fans on their way to the stadium.

With all the force and power that is still in the “monster”: You live and have learned. Also, to take care of yourself. And divide the forces so that this incredibly powerful metal machine can go on like this for a while.

Hopefully the Swabians will take that to heart…

#Metallica #Hamburg #Thrash #fair #Catwalk #Hell
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