Finally! A Complete Headline Set!
An hour and ten minutes after the time that their set is meant to start and Metallica finally walk out on to the Main Stage of Download 2006. This hasn't been 70 minutes coming though; it's been four years. Download 2003 only saw Metallica playing the second stage in a small secret set and Download 2004 saw Lars fail to appear due to illness which resulted in a shortened set with other drummers filling in. Taking all that in to account another hour and a small bottle fight is a small price to pay as Metallica open with 'Creeping Death' followed by 'Wherever I Roam'.
As Metallica move through a new song, apparently titled 'New Song', a five minute jamming session and 'Unforgiven', the sun gradually sets over Donington as what looks like one of the largest crowds the main stage has ever seen hang on James and co's every word. There is no doubt that Metallica are one of the few bands that will always be welcome as headliners at Donington alongside the ranks of the original Guns 'n' Roses, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath.
It's now that Metallica walk off stage and a voice over announces that the whole of 'Master of Puppets', the album, will be played in full from 'Battery' to 'Damage Inc.'. Needless to say that this is better received than the news that a new song is going to be played. As some ninety-odd minutes pass by there is almost a sense in the air that everyone at Donington is receiving their own private playing of 'Master of Puppets' and that this really is something special.
For bands like Metallica there isn't a lot you can say other than the fact that after twenty or so years of live shows their sets are the perfect mix of faultless performance and excellent music. There's a reason that Metallica are one of a few elite bands to span decades and generations – and this is it.
After the album in its entirety is complete, the encore starts with 'Sad But True' and follows with 'Nothing Else Matters' (lighters ahoy), 'One' and 'Enter Sandman'. As the band announce their departure the roar of cheers from the crowd easily covers the noise of the jet engines on a plane flying overhead. It's official, Metallica fans are louder than jet engines.
After another round of cheers Metallica walk back on stage for their last encore as 'Die Die Die My Darling' and 'Seek and Destroy' conclude the evening.
Four years coming? Worth the wait.