Slane Castle, June 8th 2019
After almost a decade, Metallica made a triumphant return to Irish shores to play what is always one of the most prestigious gigs of the Summer – the annual Slane Castle concert. Following in the footsteps of Thin Lizzy, Queen, Guns and Roses, and numerous other rock legends, the metal icons apparently juggled some other tour dates in order to do this show.
Due to the journey from Dublin, I missed the first couple of support acts, but got there in time to see Belfast punk legends, Stiff Little Fingers, who were excellent. However, much of the crowd, particularly further back in the venue, didn’t seem to be engaging with them, preferring instead to drink and chat.
By the time Swedish rockers, Ghost took to the stage though, people seemed to be far more in the mood, and from their opening song, Ashes, they had the crowds attention.
Personally I loved Dance Macabre, but everyone seemed to have their own favourite, and I’m sure they made a few new fans that day. They put on an amazingly theatrical show, only let down by the fact that it was still bright, so you didn’t get the full benefit of their effects. However, this was an impressive debut on these shores, and no doubt they will be back headlining their own gig in all their glory.
But this day was all about the main men – Metallica. Together an astonishing 38 years, they have a reputation as an impressive live band, and having seen them several times in the past, I knew they wouldn’t disappoint.
I had read a preview claiming that this wouldn’t really be a family day out, unlike previous Slane gigs, due to the metal heavy line up. However, I saw many families with children enjoying the day, so that theory was rather moot. Aside from that, the crowd was very much a mix of die-hard fans, and those who just fancied the idea of attending Slane to say they were there. Given that Metallica’s music is targeting a very specific audience, I’m not sure what these people thought of the actual gig, but I am hoping they enjoyed it.
The fans certainly did. Opening with the title track from their latest album, Hardwired, lead singer, James Hetfield, promised us a mix of old and new stuff, and they didn’t disappoint. They played a truly eclectic set list, designed to give an overview of their epic career. As always when they play Ireland, their cover of Whiskey in the Jar was included to roars of appreciation. And Robert Tujillo’s version of Wild Rover was definitely one of those “you had to be there” moments!
Other than these Irish epics, the biggest cheers were reserved for the classic material. The Unforgiven, Master of Puppets, and Seek & Destroy, all garnered huge roars of appreciation. Their encore, which included one of their most mainstream songs, Nothing Else Matters, as well as Enter Sandman, was a fitting end to a fabulous gig.
The whole thing was set off nicely by amazing graphics on the screens, and massively impressive pyrotechnics and fireworks. With a lesser band, these may have overshadowed the show, but Metallica have this stadium rock lark down to a tee.
Hopefully they don’t leave it so long to come back to Ireland again, although it will be hard for them to top this show.
1. Hardwired 2. The Memory Remains 3. Ride the Lightning 4. Whiskey in the Jar (cover) 5. The Unforgiven 6. Now That We’re Dead 7. Moth Into Flame 8. Sad but True 9. Halo on Fire (followed by Kirk & Rob’s solos incl. The Wild Rover, ManUNkind, & Orion) 10. Frantic 11. One 12. Master of Puppets 13. For Whom the Bell Tolls 14. Creeping Death 15. Seek & Destroy
Encore: 16. Spit Out the Bone 17. Nothing Else Matters 18. Enter Sandman (with ‘The Frayed Ends of Sanity’ outro)