Metallica – Hartwall Arena, Helsinki
June 14th 2009
Live review and pictures by Luxi Lahtinen
The last time when Metallica played in Finland on a world tour was in July 15th 2007, when they played at the Helsinki Olympia Stadium in front of 40.000 Metallica maniacs. The concert tickets were sold out in 45 minutes. Metallica – along with Iron Maiden and Kiss, are those three long running, gigantic bands that always get their concerts completely sold out in Finland in less than 1 hour. This current tour of Metallica that went under the moniker "World Magnetic Tour 2009", wasn’t the exception to that rule either: 2 shows that were booked for Metallica for a venue called Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland (holding a capacity of 14.000 people for each night) on June 14th and 15th, were both sold out in around 40 minutes. That hardly surprised anyone because Metallica has always had a loyal and great fanbase in Finland. If you logged in to buy your tickets online for those two particular shows in question an hour after the ticket selling had started, you were obviously too late already.
Mastodon and Lamb of God were the chosen privileged warm-up acts to open for Metallica on Sunday 14th of June at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, but due to my personal commitments early that night, I was forced to miss both of these bands´ sets. Better luck next time though.
The stage was built in the middle of the venue, providing a great and optimal view for everyone to see their heroes performing songs on the stage. The construction of the lights around and on the stage was also something people couldn´t help noticing. There was 8 separate "Death Magnetic" coffins hanging from the roof of the hall that had lights in them, simply giving a theme what this tour is all about. It looked simple, but still quite massive indeed – as if Metallica could have been satisfied with anything less.
When the lights were turned off, James and co. were welcomed by the fans´ loud roaring that was full of sheer excitement and enthuasiasm. The familar intro "The Ecstasy of Gold" by Ennio Morricone set the stage for our favorite four horsemen to come in, and offer an over 2-hour set for the hungry fans of the band. Even from the first chords of "That Was Just Your Life", one could tell that night was dedicated to Metallica and to their fans, of course.
Metallica used a lot of lasers during their couple of 1st tracks, putting all the media people under some sort of challenge as far as proper photos taken of the band was concerned anyway. A real bang was blown sky-high when Metallica performed one of their most evergreen classic numbers, "For Whom the Bells Toll". The crowd seemed to go totally crazy, or could I even say, berserk. I even noticed there was really young one kid (he must have been under 10 year old, based on how young he looked like) in the audience who gave his very best shot for some intense yet serious headbanging. And now when the spirit of the Metallica crowd was up to the hall´s roof, more steam was let off from the Metallica machine when the band played another set of two mandatory Metallica classic songs: "No Remorse" and "One", in this particular order even. The Metallica feast had, at this point, reached some sort of climax, I could tell.
As the tour was named after the band´s last album, DEATH MAGNETIC, it was only logical that we could hear more than those two opening songs from them off that aforementioned opus. Up next, "Broken, Beat and Scarred" – as well as "Cyanide" were churned out, kind of wanting to remind all of us that DEATH MAGNETIC was a decent album from Metallica after all, bringing back to some of those elements and vibes to their sound that the fans have expected to hear from Metallica again after so many wasted years, both music- and private life-wise, I guess. In a live situation, both "Broken" and "Cyanide" sounded much heavier and rawer than the studio versions of the album which is something that at least made me personally very pleased.
The next two songs from the Metallica camp, "Sad But True" and "Turn the Page", which happened to be a Bob Seger cover song, unfortunately didn´t do much for me even if most of the audience seemed to enjoy them, at least a little bit. It was "All Nightmare Long" that really got the crowd to raise their voice in excitement again, offering a glimpse of all that what Metallica used to be back in the day: a full-on thrash band full of energy and anger. And just when they got their fans re-heated a bit more again, Kirk´s not-so-phenomenal solo came like a bolt from a crystal-clear sky, taming and cutting away a fair bite from the intense spirit of the crowd that was pumped up by a adrenaline rush from "All Nightmare Long" just a moment ago. "The Day That Never Comes" did not help the situation much further in sense of sending some positive shivers to the fans´ necks. With the next two, classic Metallica numbers, we were back in the business again: "Master of Puppets" along with "Fight Fire with Fire" off the RIDE THE LIGHTNING album with lots of pyros, started a true Metallica worshipping feast among the crowd all over again. It´s still amazing yet funny to watch what all of those mandatory – most classic Metallica songs can do to their fans whenever the guys play them for them. They go absolutely totally nuts which is a great thing for the whole event, of course. It happened this time as well – and nobody was left cold in the crowd, that was for sure.
Kirk´s second solo was again, well, a mandatory thing from the Metallica camp to let the rest of the guys have a little break. They had truly earned their break by playing "Master" and Fight Fire", although the following two, instant radio-friendly ´hit songs´ from them, "Nothing Else Matters" and "Enter Sandman", really gave us a short break to take a deeper breath until it became a time for encores in three different pieces. "Helpless" (a Diamond Head cover song) started off the set of encores nicely, and the Metallica fans were enjoying it a heck of a lot, sing alonging and keeping their heads in a headbanging rotation constantly. Robert Trujillo was lotsa fun to watch on the stage as he was marching there like a testosterone-filled gorilla going to war to steal some female gorillas to his own breeding camp. Also Mr. James Hetfield seemed to be in a kickass shape like a true captain of the warship should be when confronting his favorite arch enemy. There´s nothing bad to say about Lars behind his drum set either as he obviously did all that what was expected from him to do to keep the whole package tightly together by his drum performance. Lars may be hated and despised by many due to many things what he has once said or done, but he definitely is a good drummer and did his job well behind a stripped-down drum arsenal.
If Metallica are to finish their set in style, then it must be finished by some old classic material from them. How can you go wrong with "Trapped Under Ice" and "Seek & Destroy"? No you definitely can not. The last 2 songs gave the last injection to the crowd to raise the atmosphere up to the roof of the concert hall again, leaving all of us in a satisfied mood of a well-done Metallica show. It´s also good to notice the Metallica guys seem to enjoy what they can do best: to play live and be living proof to all that they can still draw large audiences to their concerts. Their performance at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki in a rainy and windy evening on June 14th, was just great proof of that.
Intro: The Ecstasy of Gold
That Was Just Your Life
The End of the Line
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Broken, Beat And Scarred
Sad But True
Turn the Page (Bob Seger cover)
All Nightmare Long
Kirk Solo #1
The Day That Never Comes
Master of Puppets
Fight Fire with Fire
Kirk Solo #2
Nothing Else Matters
Helpless (Diamond Head cover)
Trapped Under Ice
Seek & Destroy
More pictures taken from the Helsinki show on June 14th 2009:
THE OFFICIAL METALLICA HOMEPAGE: