Gig Review: Metallica / Ghost / Bokassa – Etihad Stadium, Manchester (18th June 2019)

Metallica can be credited for helping to create this genre known as metal and some could say they are ambassadors for the genre given their immense popularity. With their previous run of shows in 2017 being practically sold out at every location, this time around the band decided to play much larger venues along with a bigger bill to bring their music to as many people as possible. Etihad Stadium in Manchester proved to be an excellent choice then, with its easy access location from central Manchester (10 mins on the tram from Piccadilly Station) and 60,000 capacity.

Opening proceedings on the stage at the very early time of 5:15pm were newcomers Bokassa. Being hailed by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich as “my favourite new band” and with their sophomore album, Crimson Riders, due out 3 days later, the trio were out to make sure that the slowly growing crowd knew who they were. Having possibly the best sound of the evening, the highly infectious riffs carried well with a number of audience members nodding along in appreciation of the music. Whilst it was always not going to be easy opening for Metallica, the band did a very good job and no doubt scored some new fans.

Next up on the stage at the Etihad were Swedish Rockers, Ghost. With a much larger crowd now in attendance, the Cardinal and his Ghouls set about bringing their brand of music to the masses. Whilst their songs are very catchy and they delivered a very good performance, the sound was not in their favour and was exceedingly bass heavy. Whether this was due to the location or design of the stadium is hard to tell, but despite that, the crowd seemed to enjoy them with ever louder cheers going up after each song.

After a changeover in which the crew made the decision to remove the small canopy over the drum-kit (big mistake) and the venue filling up to the seams, it was time for the legends in Metallica to take to the stage. Opening with the title track from their latest album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, the band exploded on stage and the crowd exploded into life as well. Jumping into “The Memory Remains” straight after it, the heavens then decided to open and remind everyone that Manchester is known for being quite wet. The set then continued on with a range of songs not commonly played getting outings including both “Disposable Heroes” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”. At multiple points during the set, James thanked everyone for coming down and said “You look beautiful Manchester!”

As the band continued playing, the rain kept on pouring down and despite the band’s attempts to warm everyone up during “Moth Into Flame” with lots of pyro, the standing crowd were getting exceedingly wet. That didn’t deter either the band or crowd however, particularly when Kirk & Rob decided to play a Stone Roses song as part of their little jamming interlude. Upon finishing up, a song which doesn’t get enough respect began.

Despite what people might say, “St. Anger” is a fantastic song live and with the addition of proper snare and a short solo from Kirk, the audience were going absolutely mental for it. The toy box was then truly opened for “One” with fantastic amounts of pyro, lasers and small fireworks appearing throughout the song. This lead nicely into the much-loved “Master of Puppets” which had the crowd singing so loud it was difficult to make out James at times. The rain had started to become an issue by that point however with the snare drum containing a pool of water which would splash Lars in the face every time he did a snare roll. This resulted in a spare drum kit appearing out on one of the extended stage pieces and the band congregating around it to play the last few songs of the first half including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and a great rendition of “Seek and Destroy”.

After an extended break in which some audience members were wondering if the band were going to come back on, Metallica broke out three more tracks including the stadium roof-raising “Nothing Else Matters”. Finishing the evening with an “Enter Sandman” and “The Frayed Ends of Sanity” outro, the band delivered a stellar performance and further cemented the fact that they are one of the best metal bands out there. Sure, the weather could have been better and they could have played more older stuff, but the set flowed and judging from the conversations afterwards, the band gave a performance one said was “outstanding and the best I’ve seen them.” If that is not praise for the biggest metal band on the planet, then I don’t know what is.

Header image source: Wikimedia

Metallica: official | facebook | twitter

Ghost: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

Bokassa: facebook | twitter

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