Less than two hours ago I was standing in a dry (although that changes) field that comprises part of Glasgow Green. A poem I once read by Edwin Morgan was also called Glasgow Green, and was primarily about hobos raping each other on the infamous green. Tonight wasn't rape at all, however. Tonight was total consent. Tonight was Metallica.
Of course, it could be seen that this night was Kirk Hammet's (lead guitar), as he was truly the man everyone's eyes were on. The guitar god completely stole the show, pulling Metallica's infamous solos out of his guitar with the aid of his fingers and his trusty Crybaby Wah. He manages to dominate all who watch with the power of a TGV train smashing into a bicycle. Of course, there was little improvisation of the solos, if any, but why improvise a solo when you've already written an atomic bomb of one in the first place?
But let's go back, and look over Metallica's mammoth two and a half hour set at Download Scotland from the very beginning:
As the crowd filled the area around 8pm for Metallica, the atmosphere grew so thick, that you probably could have taken a cliché and used a knife to cut the air. Various chants of 'Metallica!' or 'Busted!' or 'Justin!' arose from all around the mass of bodies, with the crowd clearly in high spirits for some good clean metal fun. Every time a light flashed on stage, as the techs tested the equipment, the crowd broke out into a rapturous cheer, thinking their metal gods were about to grace the stage. Eventually, the theme from 'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly' played, and this warm introduction nicely heralded the arrival of Metallica, who burst into their classic opener 'Blackened'.
Playing against a backdrop of folded cloth that looked like a cave wall, thanks to clever lightning, they seriously showed everyone why they deserve their headlining status. Crashing through various songs, James Hetfield (vocals/rhythm guitar) often shouted "Glasgow!", or various other pieces of encouragement, inducing the crowd into a state of sheer ecstasy whenever James spoke into the mic with his charismatic American twang.
Eventually Metallica came to the songs which have been the subject of much controversy during the last year, yes, the infamous 'Frantic' and it's older brother, 'St. Anger'. Thankfully, the awful production of that CD isn't present in a live situation, so we can all forget about THAT snare drum. And to be honest, the songs were seriously good. Although, of course, Kirk didn't get a chance to show off his wonderful guitar skills on those songs, but there was a seriously large amount to come.
After 'Wherever I May Roam', James took the mic and declared to the crowd: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Kirk!", as Kirk burst into a lengthy solo piece which turned out to actually be a cover of a Jimi Hendrix song. Of course, this quiet acoustic piece provided the perfect link to their next song, 'Nothing Else Matters'. After that monolith of a performance, they played 'Master of Puppets', continuing the trend in what seemed to be a Metallica's Greatest Hits set. With twenty years of performance under their belt, it's obvious that Metallica would play their instruments with stunning finesse, and of course they do not disappoint.
This fine performance was then given a magnificent backdrop of some pyrotechnics for the remaining songs. 'One' started with the class rifle, gun, and general army samples which were eventually drowned out by some REALLY LOUD explosives going off on stage. Continue this for a while as flames are added in and then focus the lights onto the drumkit. The band crowding around it. 'One' starts.
The next song and possibly the highlight of the Metallica set, if not the entire day at Download Scotland, the ever-wonderful 'Enter Sandman'. Fireworks shot out and scorched the sky as the band burst into the second part of 'Enter Sandman', and the crowd went, for lack of a better word, nuts. [I prefer One but there’s no accounting for taste – Ed]
As 'Enter Sandman' ends, Metallica leave the stage for the obligatory encore ritual, and finish up with 'Jump In the Fire' and 'Seek and Destroy'. James really got into some good banter for these last two songs, making the crowd chant various things for him, and teaching some of the lyrics as well.
As was said before, tonight was truly a great night - a night where Metallica demonstrated why they've been number one for twenty years now. A night where a person indifferent to Metallica was seriously converted to their cause. Most importantly, a night with no hobos raping each other.