Metallica + Ghost + Bokassa
@Etihad Stadium Manchester
June 18th 2019
Review and Photos By Rebecca Bush
Despite the forecast it is a glorious day in Manchester city centre and everywhere I look there are Metallica and Ghost fans all making the pilgrimage to the Etihad Stadium. The atmosphere is electric – the sun is shining, the crowds are gathering and we have an EPIC gig ahead of us! Metallica are in town and their army is on its way!
Walking across the stadium floor there are fans from all walks of life here to watch an immense line up take the stage.
First up are Lars Ulrich’s new favourite band, stoner punk rockers Bokassa!
With a weighty sound that fills the air they are off to an incredible start with first track, ‘Impending Doom’, a musical intro that leads us into an explosion of a song, ‘Last Night (was a real Massacre)’. We are in for one hell of a ride!
It’s no picnic trying to win over crowds as a support act but the three piece from Norway more than belong here and the crowd are lapping it up!
These guys are a real force to be reckoned with, pumping out hard hitting track after hard hitting track and getting the crowd properly hyped with their high energy playing. Each track is full of intense drum beats, massive hooks and killer riffs.
Their nine song set is a great cross section of their catalogue to date including my favourite ‘Only Gob Can Judge Me’, an immense track with a real catchy hook and a punchy riff.
With new album ‘Crimson Riders’ being released on Jun 21st we are given a three songs to whet our appetites and get our teeth into.
‘Captain Cold One’ is anthemic and hard hitting, ‘Mouthbreathers Inc.’ fast and furious with a super catchy opening riff and ‘Vultures’ is more melodic. Crimson Riders is definitely on my list of must buys!!
All in all an immense start to proceedings – definitely one to watch!
Bokassa Set List:
1. Impending Doom
2. Last Night (Was a Real Massacre)
3. Hellbilly Handfishin’
4. Captain Cold One
5. Mouthbreathers Inc.
6. Only Gob Can Judge Me
8. Walker Texas Danger
9. Five Finger Fuckhead
Second to take the stage tonight are Swedish band Ghost! I am beyond excited to see what they bring to a stadium setting. I have no doubt whatsoever that they will easily command the space and that the crowd will be completely bewitched by the end of their set – not one ass will be left unwobbled!!
My suspicions are confirmed, the crowd are excited before they even take the stage as their beautiful intricate stained glass effect set is revealed. Depicting scenes from the ever speculated Ghost lore, it creates the perfect back drop for their performance.
Cheers erupt from around the stadium as Ghost fans know what they are about to witness and ritual ‘virgins’ anticipate what is coming!
As the Nameless Ghouls take to the stage a wonderful theatrical atmosphere is instantly invoked as the melodic and haunting ‘Ashes’ fills the air and the masked musicians stand to attention waiting to burst into action with first song ‘Rats’, an absolute fist-pumping anthem of a track that has everyone immediately hooked.
Enter the latest incarnation to front the band (and my personal favourite), Cardinal Copia! Decked out in his latest finery, a crimson, beautifully tailored suit and matching deep red Edward Monk strap shoes, this is one suave individual and as always his voice is completely faultless, with all the right growls and rolling r’s in all the right places.
Every musician is immaculate and full of life as they travel around the vast stage making sure everyone in attendance witnesses their brilliance and is thoroughly entertained!
This is an extremely well-crafted show and pure joy spreads across onlookers’ faces as, song after song, you can physically see their already enormous fan base increasing!! The set list showcases their back catalogue brilliantly and really depicts the correlation and development of their sound and the myriad of influences and inspirations that has culminated in what we are witnessing here.
During instrumental number Miasma we really get to see these talented musicians showcased. We may not be able to see their faces but they are so animated and mesmerising to watch.
The cherry on the cake of this track is of course the appearance of the much beloved Papa Nihil for his saxophone solo – despite his frailty he bursts into life and busts out some moves before stumbling and being escorted back off stage. You may not think saxophone would translate here but it is more than perfect and adds another level of theatrics that only Ghost provides.
Real stand out tracks include ‘Faith’ from latest album Prequelle released in 2018, ‘Year Zero’ from 2013’s Infestissumam which steps the performance up several notches with an incredibly atmospheric display of smoke and fire perfectly fitting their dark and sinister aesthetic, and ‘Dance Macabre’, also from Prequelle, with its contrasting display of bright colourful lights; it’s a completely infectious catchy song which everyone is clapping along to.
The Cardinal takes a moment to address the crowd and asks if we like real heavy songs to screams of confirmation. He goes on to explain that this is the kind of song that will make our asses wobble and tickle our taints! ”DO YOU WANT ME TO TICKLE THEM FOR YOU?” he shouts, and it’s pretty much unanimous – yes, yes we do want you to tickle our taints Copia – and with that they power into ‘Mummy Dust’ and the crowd go wild!
He checks in with us afterwards to make sure he was successful – ”Taints….?” to which we reply ”TICKLED!!!!” Rounding their set off with possibly their most well known track, ‘Square Hammer’, to rapturous applause, it is an all too short hour of immense music and I have no doubt that they have well and truly won over everyone here who wasn’t already fully on board!
Ghost Set List:
5. From the Pinnacle To the Pit
9. Year Zero
10. Mummy Dust
11. Dance Macabre
12. Square Hammer
The skies darken a little as the evening draws in and the hour is upon us!!!
The huge screens that create the backdrop for tonight’s show fire up to scenes from The Good The Bad and The Ugly and Ennio Morricone’s The Ecstasy of Gold as these absolute legends take to the stage to deafening applause. Not wasting a single second, they explode into opener Hardwired and we are well and truly off!!
With a career spanning literally my entire lifetime (Metallica and Rebecca Est. 1981!) obviously Papa Het and co. know how to put on a show, and having an immense back catalogue to cherry pick from their set brings us new material, mid-era material and old and firm favourites, all of which go down a total storm – literally as if the thunderous drums have summoned the heavens to open in a very metal rain dance!!
And as the skies open they are completely unfazed, if anything they play more fiercely and with more energy, the rain creating an amazing atmosphere and not in the slightest bit breaking our spirits!
The second track is one of my all time favourites, ‘The Memory Remains’, and the entire set list is brilliantly thought out with classics such as ‘The Unforgiven’ and ‘Sad but True’ and new songs ‘Moth Into Flame’ and ‘Here Comes Revenge’, which has the eerie animated video playing on the big screens behind them.
It’s so satisfying to watch a band so comfortable on stage they make being rock stars look effortless and easy. James’s vocals are immense and powerful, Kirk’s solo’s are mind-blowingly good, Lars’s drumming a real spectacle and Rob finger picks that bass like the pro he is!!
They are clearly completely humbled by the turnout and the response from the audience, and James thanks us all sincerely for our support over the years calling us all beautiful!
As an ode to Manchester Kirk and Rob take centre stage to perform for us Mancunian band The Stone Roses’ ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, for which they asked the crowd to sing along.
Darkness has fallen now and the rain still drives on as laser lights pierce the air, illuminating the entire stadium in an impressive and atmospheric display and the sky is lit up with bursts of flame on all sides, which aside from being visually appealing also add a welcome burst of warmth in the rain!
Second encore ‘Nothing Else Matters’ is a beautiful moment and everyone is singing their hearts out as the stadium is lit up with peoples’ torches (the modern age of lighters in the air).
As the song draws to a close Papa Het holds to the camera the plectrum he has been playing with and it is displayed on the big screen for all to see. Emblazoned with ‘I heart Manchester’ and tonight’s date, it is another heart-warming gesture which is received with riotous applause once again.
Now for the grand finale: we are all wet through, we are all, I am sure, losing our voices but we are not done yet and neither are Metallica – it is of course Enter Sandman and we are all instantly whipped into a total frenzy!!
Finishing up with an impressive and exciting display of fireworks and pyrotechnics the likes of which I have never experienced first hand they round up the night perfectly.
The mood is absolutely electric and there is an amazing atmosphere as we all watch the display come to an end.
WOW, what a show, we are all well and truly rocked to our cores!!!
Metallica Set List:
2. The Memory Remains
3. Disposable Heroes
4. The God That Failed
5. The Unforgiven
6. Here Comes Revenge
7. Moth Into Flame
8. Sad But True
9. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
10. St. Anger
12. Master of Puppets
13. For Whom the Bell Tolls
14. Creeping Death
15. Seek and Destroy
16. Lords of Summer
17. Nothing Else Matters
18. Enter Sandman