When, back in November 2022, Metallica announced their new tour in support of ’72 Seasons’, it was evident that we had entered a new era, a new world order. This is a stadium tour, but with a very limited number of shows (less than 50 for ’23 and ’24 combined), two in each city, different support acts, absence of the markets that made it particularly hard to travel during covid (Asia, Australia). Always the innovators, Metallica saw, in a difficult period for the live entertainment industry due to constant crises (pandemic, supply chain issues, war, energy crisis, inflation), an opportunity: A model that could combine the need for the band (more rest, better performance) and the trucks (cost, geopolitical instability) to both travel less, with the desire to offer fans a new product. ‘M72’ isn’t exactly a tour, in the traditional sense, and it isn’t a festival either. It is a… long weekend with Metallica.
This particular long weekend began Thursday the 27th of April with Eddie Van Halen’s very cool son, Wolfgang. His solo project’s debut record, Mammoth WVH, is worth checking out, and the sophomore album should follow during the summer. A good guitarist and singer, with his own style that’s not especially close to his late father’s, but rather in tune with 21st century American hard rock, Wolfgang and the rest of the guys managed to win over some new fans, even though the size of the stage seemed a little daunting for them. You see, when I write the word stage, I’m referring to the huge ‘ring’ in the center of the Johan Cruyff Arena, simultaneously creating a huge pit in the middle of it, which at first sight seems like it would be a nightmare to handle for any performer. It is the element that completes the vision I talked about in the first paragraph, and it creates numerous different experiences depending on where the fan is standing (or sitting) during the concert.
British band Architects did better on the round, given the fact that there’s more of them, and that singer Sam Carter and guitarist Adam Christianson managed to do about ten laps each. Their half-time groove in drop tuning combined with metalcore melodies surely is effective, if not a little repetitive. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if this tour ended up really helping their career take off, granting them better slots in future festival line-ups.
About ten minutes before Metallica were expected to start playing, the electricity in the air became palpable. During ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’, the enthusiasm peaks. Then, a mysterious pre-recorded intro comes on. Is it for ’72 Seasons’? Or ‘Lux Æterna‘? Maybe it’s for ‘Whiplash’, like last year? Until it becomes clear that a certain Danish drummer with huge cojones decided to start things off with ‘Orion’. This has happened less than five times in the past and only for very rare special occasions.
Since I mentioned Lars, he plays the set on four kits that are emerging from the stage, in four different spots, every four songs. The first quarter, on the day of the Dutch king’s birthday (Koningsdag), closes with the wonderfully appropriate ‘King Nothing’, which a) shares lots of DNA with ‘Sleepwalk My Life Away’ whose global premiere came a little later and, b) made it clear that the setlist would be nothing short of a dream.
‘The Day that Never Comes’, a personal favorite and great ‘Death Magnetic’ representative, ‘Ride the Lightning’ in the best live version I can remember, ‘Battery’ including the bridge, as it was written and as it should be. Only a few highlights of an epic performance.
On Saturday, winning a snake pit pass allowed us to have some extra time to spare, so when Ice Nine Kills hit the stage we were still digesting a couple of ribeye steaks. Our apologies. We did however make it in time for local girl Floor Jansen, who was called upon to replace Five Finger Death Punch at the last minute. Much more energetic and active than the other musicians on stage with her, despite the pregnancy, she sang stuff from her solo record ‘Paragon’, her past, and covers. The set included Nightwish song ‘Our Decades in the Sun’ off ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful’, as well as a ‘Phantom of the Opera’ duet to finish things off.
Here’s a question: ‘Could this setlist be even more ambitious than the first night?’
Response: ‘The Call of Ktulu’ for the introductory remarks, ‘Creeping Death’ for the win, ‘Leper Messiah’… in for the kill, and ‘Until it Sleeps’ (first time since 2008!) fir the chills.
In the snake pit, I have to admit, the situation is disturbingly civilized for my tastes, movement being too easy for a metal concert, but let’s focus on the sonic and visual spectacle. As far as the new stuff is concerned, ’72 Seasons’ needed a little more work, however ‘If Darkness Had a Son’ hit hard like a live staple and ‘You Must Burn!’ confirmed it is one of the top tracks on the new album.
‘Wherever I May Roam’ began without the consistently riveting James Hetfield who was still changing guitars while smoking his cigar, but is always a worthy addition, and was followed by old classic ‘Harvester of Sorrow’ and modern classic ‘Moth Into Flame’.
2 concerts, 32 songs, no repeats, no fucking encores, representation from all decades. Indeed, ‘M72’ is not exactly a tour… it was designed to be the ultimate Metallica experience.
Setlist Night 1: Orion, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Holier Than Thou, King Nothing, Lux Æterna, Screaming Suicide, Fade to Black, Sleepwalk My Life Away, Nothing Else Matters, Sad but True, The Day that Never Comes, Ride the Lightning, Battery, Fuel, Seek & Destroy, Master of Puppets
Setlist Night 2: The Call of Ktulu, Creeping Death, Leper Messiah, Until it Sleeps, 72 Seasons, If Darkness Had a Son, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), You Must Burn!, The Unforgiven, Wherever I May Roam, Harvester of Sorrow, Moth Into Flame, Fight Fire With Fire, Whiskey in the Jar, One, Enter Sandman