Friday the 13th always had an ominous ring to it.. Maybe that’s why Christian and I were more or less pursued by bad luck all throughout the day which is something you don’t really want to be when you’re off to see the Gods of Thunder, METALLICA, perform one of their precious few live gigs in Denmark..
I’d even tried to make things go as smooth as possible by booking us a couple of seats on a concert bus heading directly from Kolding to Vestereng in Århus where the band was playing.. It should’ve been smooth sailing from the start, they even promised that they were among the precious few companies who actually stuck to their schedule.. Well, so much for that, the bus showed up 15 minutes late.. And ended up leaving some 35 minutes late as we had to make a detour back to pick up a couple of people who had missed another bus. Oh well, at least we had cold, cheap beers for the ride..
Well, no, about 15 minutes north of Kolding, we ran out of beers, meaning that the 70 some people on board had consumed five 30 packs of beer and dug well into two 24 cases of Smirnoff Ice since we’d left Kolding.. Which was admittedly a bit insane.. So, instead of beer, we had to settle for.. traffic.. An accident up ahead caused us to spend more than half an hour stuck in traffic.. Maybe an hour, I wasn’t counting.. I was busy having to pee and eventually had to bribe my way ahead in line for the bathroom by spending one of the last beers on the bus. Which I could’ve more or less spared as the bus driver was eventually persuaded to just pull over to the side of the road letting the entire gang relieve themselves at the shoulder of the motor way.. We eventually arrived in Århus about an hour and a half behind schedule, leaving us only 30 minutes to get to the concert area before the first band of the evening hit the stage.. Just in time for a perfect example of the “too many cooks” problem. Rather than ending up at the concert site, an impressive tribunal of drunks took charge of directions and landed us at the car parking area some 5 kms away from the site. After an attempt to leave, a second trip back to the parking lot, and finally getting some sense talked into the drunken gang, we set sail for the concert site. We arrived at the bus parking at just around 7 PM, just in time to head the first band of the evening hit stage while we went on our way to the entrance.. And this begins the concert experience.
Well, what to say about Mnemic, the first band of the evening? It’s hard to really say much other than that they provided a nice backdrop for our walk to the concert site. I was expecting them to suck, but I can’t say that they really did – they seemed to play with a fair bit of energy, a fair bit of double bass drum and a hell of a lot of anger.. It’s one of those bands that I’d have probably enjoyed seeing at a much smaller venue.. But as for yesterday they provided a nice bit of background music for making our way onto the field, getting through security and stocking up on a few beers and some food. We never really got to pay much attention as we were either too busy achieving sensory overload from the number of people and everything going on around us. Christian, by the way, had done his best in dressing up for the part by wearing a all-black tshirt for a change, but still I got a feeling that he felt a little out of place with his short, neat hair, distinct lack of band logo shirts and our level of sobriety.. The poor, pure, little soul even seemed surprised to see and smell people lighting up joints outside the concert site.. But boy was he about to come around.
We’d barely managed to get our food and beers when Volbeat’s crew started doing their sound testing so we knew we were in for a rather laid back experience with Volbeat.. As we had a four-pack of beer each to guard and therefor couldn’t venture too far into the crowd. So we spend Volbeat’s set literally about half a kilometer away from the stage, just chilling and having a few beers which was a bit odd but also enjoyable for me as I’m used to being way up front and being pummeled half to death during Volbeat shows.. Even so, we managed to have fun and enjoy the show.
As always, the boys opened with “The Human Instrument” and treated us to a small bunch of their best love songs.. “Mr. & Mrs. Ness”, “Poll of Booze-Booze-Booza” and “Radio Girl” come to mind.. Front man, Michael Poulsen, seemed strangely nervous or whatever during “Radio Girl” and managed to screw up the chorus, but when he finally did get them right, Christian and I were both ready with a thunderous chant of “FOR HELVEDE!!!!” which left some of the family fathers and soccer moms standing around us at the time wondering just what the hell were wrong with us!
Highlights from Volbeat’s set (naturally) included their infamous Dusty Springfield cover “I Only Wanna Be With You” – now with even more growling on Michael Poulsen’s behalf.. I love it! And (of course) a performance of their radio hit, “The Garden’s Tale” – with Johan Olsen from Danish punk band Magtens Korridorer delivering guest vocals on the Danish part of the song.. The latter song got the best reaction out of the crowd thus far that evening and kinda hinted that good things were in store for us…
Time for intermission, a much needed chance to dispose of the four or five beers we’d had since arriving and to start pushing our way as far up front as we possibly could.. Which was only really a few hundred meters at this point.
There’s always something magical about waiting for Metallica.. There really is something in the air.. And no, I’m not just talking about the smell of numerous joints being passed around.. Naw, it’s that general feeling of expectation, 50,000+ people knowing what’s about to happen, trying their best to be patient.. Even the monotonous sounds of the guitar and drum techs testing the instruments get a huge roar from the crowd.
For a while before the band hit stage they had music playing over the PA but it wasn’t loud enough for us to hear anything.. when the speakers returned to normal volume for AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Road To The Top (If You Wanna Rock And Roll)”, we had a pretty good idea what was about to happen.. Surely enough, the lights came on, the song was followed by Ennio Morricone’s beautiful “The Ecstasy of Gold”, half empty beer cups and other shit started flying left and right and thousands upon thousands of hands flewinto the air as the Gods of Metal hit stage accompanied by possibly the loudest crowd roar I’ve ever heard in my life.
Without a word, they tore into the opening riff of “Creeping Death”, a 1984 classic, which initially made me think that fuck, this is way too hardcore for Christian’s taste. Christian, in return looked at me, gave thunderous roar of his own and actually proceeded to headbang with me.. Talk about living it out! And what a way to kick things off! “For Whom The Bell Tolls” followed which was a bit of a weird experience.. I mean, it sounded pretty good for a while, but less than half way into the song, the sound disappeared.. Unbeknownst to the band who just kept playing on. The result was weird to watch.. The band was up there giving it their best, producing nothing but pure silence, for a while the dedicated fans in the crowd just kept singing but the singing eventually turned to booing and whistling and eventually into a 50,000+ people rendition of the classic Danish song “Vi Sejler Op Af Åen”
Metallica getting booed, you don’t see that too often..
Even more surprisingly the band just suddenly left the stage without a word and we were left wondering fending for ourselves, wondering what the hell was going on. After a while of silence, I decided I might as well go pee and so I did.. As luck would have it (Friday the 13th anyone), I heard the intro to “Wherever I may Roam” sound out just as I’d finished my business, which let to the rather fucked up sight of the 30 some people in line peeing up against the fence literally rocking out with their cocks out.. I wouldn’t think headbanging while peeing would lead to anything good, so I hurried back to find Christian and the other people we were sorta socializing with at the time. I made it back for the second half of the song, stopping along the way to headbang and sing a bit with whatever small groups I ran into.. Good times!
James apologized to the crowd saying that Lars’ makeup was running and that they had to stop the show because he wanted to look the best for his people which received quite a few laughs.. Either way, the band didn’t seem very affected by the glitch and we spend the next two and a half hours getting the living shit kicked out of us by a bunch of middle-aged men most of which were old enough to be my father.. And oh fuck did we enjoy every minute of it! “Disposable Heroes” and the full version of “… And Justice For All” were followed by the only “new” songs to make it into the set “The Memory Remains” (1997) and “No Leaf Clover” (1999). Then came Orion (a 1986 instrumental) followed by a downright awesome performance of the 23 year-old ballad, “Fade To Black”, which I’ve been dying to hear live (I can now die a happy man), the FULL version of Master of Puppets and last but not least “Battery” which I decided sounded faster than ever.
James then said goodnight, and we pretty much all knew what was coming. Metallica are, after all, pretty predictable when it comes to encores. After a short intermission, Christian and I were offered the chance to completely wreck our voices and bodies to “Sad But True” then wind down a little for the ever so classic “Nothing Else Matters” before the lights were eventually dimmed and the sound of gun fire rang out accompanied by various explosions and pyro on stage and finally a bit of aerial fireworks as the guys kicked into a classic and extremely well done rendition of “One” before finally saying goodnight (again) with “Enter Sandman”.
I have a theory that you can say a lot about the size of a band by the number of encores they play, and we true fans of course knew that they weren’t finished. After a bit of the usual joking “Are you guys still here?” we were treated to an almost insanely fast version of “Whiplash”, one of their first songs ever recorded, which I really mostly like for the part where James screams “We’ll never stop, we’ll never quit cause YOU’RE Metallica!” – always the crowd pleaser! 😉 And of course they saved the best for last.. James went and dedicated the last song of the evening to all the diehard fans who’ve stuck with Metallica throughout the years – as a fan for ten years now myself, I’d like to think that this applies to me as well.. Either way, the song was “Seek And Destroy”, another first album classic. Another crowd pleaser which offers a lot of crowd participation.. Though I’m not really sure my throat likes Metallica today for forcing us all to scream “SEEK AND DESTROY!!” over and over again after two and a half hours of singing and screaming in the first place.. But I’ll forgive them.. If you’re not hurting here and there and sporting a sore throat after a heavy metal concert, you haven’t done well enough!
The ride back home went surprisingly more smooth than you’d have thought, especially since going home involved rounding up 71 drunken metal heads who’d been left to fend for their own and make their own way back to the bus.. We eventually left Århus at just past 1 AM and arrived back in Kolding shortly after 2:30 where we went back to my place for a couple of beers, and eventually ended up going to bed somewhere at around 7:15 AM after drinking whatever we had left of beer and shots and deciding against opening any more bottles.. In recognition of the fact that we probably also had to sleep at some point.