Many of us had waited for this to happen for many, many years. And it finally did. Now, I sit to write this review with a sore neck and a missing voice, and every few minutes, I need to shake myself into believing that the dream did come true, and how!
The Gurgaon fiasco was a shame, and that, trust me, is very politely put. After Metallica called off their gig there, many of us were left wondering if the Bangalore gig was next in line to be canned. But luckily, that didn’t happen. By 3PM on the 30th of October, 2011, Palace Grounds and all roads leading to it were lined with people in black t-shirts, waiting patiently to get in. The weather was as moody as ever, and it rained and stopped a couple of times, leaving the ground disgustingly slushy. But no matter how gross that was, everyone had just one aim- to get in and get the show to go on.
So after a painful few minutes of being pushed around by the pack, we finally made it into the venue. The barriers looked strong, and there was quite a bit of security around. But if you’ve been to a gig in Bangalore, you know that no matter how wild it gets, our audience here still behaves itself. Though I may be generalizing, I say it proudly, because I know I have every reason to do so.
The opening acts started a little earlier than expected, and Inner Sanctum went up first. Being an ardent fan of theirs, I was quite disappointed that they took part in a competition to get that slot because they don’t need to prove themselves to anyone anymore. But ultimately, they got to play (with the new line-up), we got to watch them in a great venue and as usual, they put up a killer set. Guillotine, who lost out on their opportunity in Delhi, luckily got to play in Bangalore. When I heard ‘The Cynic’, I was mighty impressed, and couldn’t wait to watch them live. They were fairly good on stage, but not as great as they sound on the album. A few more shows will definitely make them a lot crisper.
Biffy Clyro went up next. I was one of those who Googled that name after seeing the ‘Rock in India’ billboards around the city. They were an interesting act, no doubt, but not the kind of band you’d want to see before Metallica. So though I know there were quite a few people who came to watch Biffy in particular, I’ll skip the details here.
At around 6:30PM approximately, Biffy Clyro got off stage, and the one and a half hour wait began. At 7:55PM, it was an ACDC track on the P.A., and those who follow Metallica know that that’s the song that plays just before they get on stage. And then, the lights went off… and “Ecstasy of Gold” began. It was loud as shit, and sent a shiver of excitement coupled with goosebumps all around. Metallica was on!
James, Lars, Rob and Kirk took the stage, and “Creeping death” began. It was an adrenaline rush like no other! Just like in the DVDs, the crowd chanted “Die! Die!” with fists in the air, and the band played on, sounding as tight as ever. The dream had begun. That led into “For whom the bell tolls” and then “Fuel”. The frenzy only got better, or worse, however you may look at it, and by the time we reached the last stanza in “Fuel”, even the timid little wife standing next to me, clutching her handbag and standing next to hubby dearest had her head bobbing and her hair in a mess. That was just the beginning.
Hetfield’s voice thundered across Palace Grounds- “Are you alive, Bangalore?” His voice is still very much in its prime, and his stage personality isn’t too far behind that either. He then said that they would be playing some of their older stuff, and as promised “Ride the Lightning” started off. After some vigorous headbanging, it was time to give the neck a break with “Fade to Black”. Then, it was ‘Death Magnetic’s turn and “Cyanide” was next. The sound of the drums was intense, and every bass drum kick was like a punch in the chest, particularly during this song. To be honest, I have a new found respect for Metallica’s newer material after this show. I have a new found respect for Metallica itself, and I say this though I would normally give Megadeth a higher vote at other times.
After this, they began playing a random tune, which nobody recognized. But as soon as that evolved into “Fortune, fame, mirror vain…”, the crowd roared. It was “The Memory Remains”. It was with this song that Bangalore won over Metallica. The “ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra” bits in the song were sung in unison by over forty thousand Indian metalheads, and didn’t stop, even when it was supposed to. Hetfield’s expression was priceless. It was a combination of “Wow” and “Ok, that’s enough”. A loud cheer followed and led into “Sanitarium”. That was one of the first times during the gig where we noticed a few screw-ups, but it was nothing major, so we let it pass. Then it was time for something heavy, because as James said, we like it heavy! It was “Sad but true”, one of the heaviest songs of the night. Then came “All Nightmare Long”, also from the new album, which not too many people were familiar with. I’m guessing St. Anger made the band lose a major section of its fanbase, but they’ve just won them all back again!
Lights off, the sound of bullets being fired, gunshots, and finally… soothing, gentle strumming. It was time for “One”. The wave of goosebumps had attacked again, and concluded in a jaw drop when the well timed lights went into flashes to match the riffing in the latter half of the song. Then came “Master of Puppets” another popular favourite, which everyone sang (and laughed along with) from start to finish. Then, the intro of “Blackened” came up, and when it stopped, James started playing “Battery”. OOPS! He played the riff, stopped, and continued with “Blackened”. Even in between the song, there were points when they lost their timing, but they got back on track very quickly, and very few would have actually noticed the fumbling.
After that piece of heavy metal, it was time to please the entire crowd. Kirk started with a solo, and that led into “Nothing Else Matters”. There were mobile phones up in the air, swaying in slow motion. Next was another favourite “Enter Sandman” complete with pyro and fireworks. It was nothing short of a spectacle, and the band said their ‘thank yous’ and left.
But they were back for their second segment of the gig, which they always kick off with a cover song. This time, it was the Diamondhead track “Am I evil”. After a little teasing act of wearing the guitar and taking it off, James strapped his weapon back on and continued to fire on with “Battery”. Finally, the show concluded with the song described by “three simple words”, as James put it- “Seek and Destroy”. And it was a wrap.
The four horsemen then took turns to tell the Bangalore crowd how “kickass” they were. Lars concluded the show with a promise of returning to India, and then they took their bows, threw away a hell of a lot of picks and also drumsticks (one of which was taken by a cop, who in all possibility, had no clue of which band that was on stage). The dream had come to an end, but the impact of the show was so great that it took everyone some time to digest the truth that we had all just watched Metallica, in the flesh. In fact, it is now a couple of days after the gig and it still hasn’t sunken in.
So if you haven’t got a gist of what I have rambled on for so long, here it is- the show was BRILLIANT. The sound was spot on, the set-list was perfect and despite the minor screw-ups, on the whole, it was a gig unlike any other. Though I am a die-hard Maiden fan, I still think that in terms of an overall evalutation, Metallica scored higher, simply because of the decibel levels and showmanship. The Metallica hangover will take a while to go, and I simple cannot wait for them to come back.
Metallica ‘Rock in India’ setlist:
1. Creeping Death
2. For Whom the Bell Tolls
4. Ride the Lightning
5. Fade to Black
7. The Memory Remains
8. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
9. Sad But True
10. All Nightmare Long
12. Master of Puppets
14. Nothing Else Matters
15. Enter Sandman
16. Am I Evil?
18. Seek & Destroy