When Big Concerts announced that the Metallica gig would change venue from Cape Town Stadium to the Bellville Velodrome, fans were concerned, some even upset. Speculation was rife that ticket sales were low, the weather would be bad, or was it, as the promoter had claimed, “the band wanted a more intimate venue?” All of the above had to have forced the change, but come last night, nothing else mattered. Metallica was here and they blew minds and rocked bodies like only they could.
There was electricity in the air as we stood in line outside. Many fans had never seen these titans before, having missed their slot at Cokefest in 2006. Van Coke Kartel were the support act, much to the chagring of metal purists, but they pulled off a professional and impassioned performance, even adding snippets of Metallica tunes into their set. Their sound mix was a bit muddy with too much bass low end, but they warmed us up enough not to care about it too much.
Looking around the venue, it was disconcerting to see that it wasn’t filled to capacity. Not that it was empty, but where were the masses? How could they miss attending a concert by Metallica? Too much Bieber on t.v. and radio, or high ticket prices perhaps? Anyway, the lights went down and the band’s signature opening piece, ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’ reverberates through the venue. The band members walk on stage, one by one, to crazy screeching fans. Wasting no time, they slam into ‘Ride the Lightning’ and ‘Creeping Death’. The music is crushing and powerful, creating a cacophony of sound that is like water to parched metal fans. Audience numbers might not have been bursting at the seams, but they made enough noise and showed as much energy and excitement as an audience twice their size.
Into the third song the band makes dreams come true when they play ‘The Shortest Straw’, a true classic off the ‘…And Justice for All’ album. They play mostly older material and only one new song, ‘Cyanide’, from their last album ‘Death Magnetic’. ‘Battery’, ‘One’, ‘Sad but True’ are delivered with ferocity and passion: the crowd loves every minute of it. As the last notes of ‘Enter Sandman’ fade, the band says goodnight, but the delirious crowd wouldn’t accept just that. Once more the house lights dim and out step the band for an encore that starts with a shocker selection, ‘Am I Evil’. Who would have thought they’d slip in this gem? Half way through the song the band segues into the biggest surprise of the night, ‘Fight Fire with Fire’. The golden circle crowd were going nuts once more; so many reliving their youth and all of us jolted by the power of the music.
The band ends on a celebratory note via classic of classics, ‘Seek and Destroy’. There is triumph in the air and everyone knows they have seen and heard something special. The band played their hearts out and the audience showered them with love and adulation, proving that you don’t need a stadium and a sold out crowd to witness a legendary gig.
1. Creeping Death; 2. Fuel; 3. The Shortest Straw; 4. Through The Never; 5. Fade To Black; 6. The Memory Remains; 7. Cyanide; 8. Sad but True; 9. Welcome Home (Sanitarium); 10. And Justice For All; 11. One; 12. Master of Puppets; 13. Battery; 14. Nothing Else Matters; 15. Enter Sandman; Encore: 16. Am I Evil; 17. Fight Fire With Fire; 18. Seek and Destroy.