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What happened when Metallica played Twickenham

James Hetfield at Twickenham
(Image credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage)

“Awwww,” says someone. “They’re all a bit older, a bit balder, a bit fatter. It’s depressing!” But enough about the Metal Hammer team, what about Metallica at Twickenham? 

Well, it was epic. It was packed (pretty much: naysayers beforehand were saying they struggled to sell seats, but only a few small sections of the stadium – capacity 82,000 – were blocked off). And it was plagued by the kind of problems you get when your singer is half a football pitch away from your drummer.

The Metal Hammer team went, were dotted around the stadium, and this is what we learned…

The setlist was weird…

One of the Hammer team felt like it took bloody ages for the show to really get going and that the setlist was to blame. Another felt like it was two and a half hours of nonstop classics with no era left behind (and, uh, thought that was a good thing). 

The crowd do look bored and unimpressed during Frantic but when it gets going  – basically when they play One – all is forgiven. Have they left it too late? Hell no. Puppets/Bells/Creeping/Seek (ie some of the best metal tunes ever) performed back to back is effing glorious – a heavy metal master class. Sandman was probably the perfect way to end the night, but we’ll never know because we had to bolt for the train. 

There’s One song to rule them all

It's a haunting seven-minute tragedy about a limbless soldier unable to speak, hear or see. Simulated artillery, flares and machine gun fire open the song while visuals show World War I troops marching off to become hideous skeletons. It shouldn't be fun, but seeing a stadium full of fans chant and gleefully scream along to One is surely one of the best things a Metallica famileeeh can experience. And still it seems to get better with age.

Metallica's James Hetfield

(Image credit: Matthew Baker/Getty Images)

St Anger is still divisive

When Metallica launched into Frantic, the entire stadium seemed to take two positions – shaking a head or losing some shit. You have to respect Metallica for still sticking by an album that has received such a kicking over the years, but despite some of those riffs sounding much meatier and more powerful live, we can live without having to hear those Satchmo-on-acid backing vocals from Rob. Bless him.

Metallica's Kirk Hammett

(Image credit: Matthew Baker/Getty Images)

Maybe it’s time to kick out the jams

In Manchester they played a ropey and misplaced cover of the Stone Roses’ I Wanna Be Adored. In London, it was odds-on that they’d cover a Maiden track. They did and it wasn’t much better. It may have been due to the muddy sound, but the Kirk/Rob Killers duet fell flat – it took a while to even work out what they were playing. We could have fit another song in there! Next time, more killers, less filler. 

Those Metallica cups are cool

Metallica cup

(Image credit: Darrell Mayhew)

And useful too…

It wasn’t loud enough

The sound was shitola – echoey and not nearly loud enough. You used to see Metallica and feel like you’d gone deaf. Tonight there’s no heft. No bass. No crunch. When they slow it down for Sad But True and For Whom The Bells Tolls it’s satisfyingly heavy. 

But when they speed it up, the definition is lost. Which is a shame cos, without volume, there’s is something about Metallica at their most frantic that’s a bit like a poodle trying to shag your leg. You can brush it off, sure, but it’s ridiculous. You feel bad for them. We want Metallica to be fucking ferocious. We want to leave a Metallica gig in bits. Which brings us on to…

Can we please not have any more metal gigs at Twickenham?

The sound is just too hit and miss in venues that size - although, one Hammer staffer insists the sound at Twickenham was still a million miles better than Fleetwood Mac at Wembley on Sunday, which is something. Still, the worry about not getting a train back home put a slight dampener on the evening – many left before the encore to ensure they didn't get stuck. 

The security guys at Twickenham said the Metallica crowds were far easier and nicer to deal with than the Ascot crowds he was working with the previous day, confirming what we already knew - metalheads are the best.

Metallica's Rob Trujillo

(Image credit: Matthew Baker/Getty Images)

In fact, can we not have any more stadium gigs? 

Getting in is a nightmare. the sound is terrible. You just end up watching big screens that, for most of the arena, are smaller than a current flat screen with worse resolution. And maybe this music isn’t fit for stadiums. Metallica in a club must have been the best night of your life. For those of us who missed that and are facing a future of only seeing them at a stadium or a festival? It’s crushing. 

Cliff Burton’s dad was there:

And he got the respect he deserved...

It started too early

Seeing a band play in daylight is still an odd thing, right? 

Metallica's James Hetfield

(Image credit: Matthew Baker/Getty Images)

Lars must be sweating buckets

Even if you’re sitting up in the gods, the pyro is really hot. What must it be like for the band? Lars gets the brunt of it, the wind blowing the flames back towards his drum kit. If anyone sees him today, could you check if he has any eyelashes left?

But, hey, it was for a good cause

And this is what we all felt like this morning...