x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Metallica's thunderous return to Abu Dhabi

Free from the touring cycle of their come back album, 2008’s Death Magnetic, the boys simply came out to have a play in Abu Dhabi.

Metallica plays to a 10,000 strong crowd in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Flash Entertainement
Metallica plays to a 10,000 strong crowd in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Flash Entertainement

Metallica returned to Abu Dhabi last night with another thunderous performance. Free from the touring cycle of their come back album, 2008’s Death Magnetic, the boys simply came out to have a play.

Such is the status of Metallica; even a glorified rehearsal session is enough to warrant a 10,000 strong crowd. With the 2011 show establishing the Los Angeles titans as having a fervent fan base in the region, they ditched the crowd-pleasing cannons and fire works and returned with a set squarely aimed at the faithful.

Popular yet pedestrian tracks from Load and Reload were jettisoned and Death Magnetic only received a minor glance (Broken, Beat and Scarred) as the clock was turned back to the 1980s. Coming on stage to Ennio Morricone’s Ecstasy of Gold, the four-piece got straight to business with the blistering Hit The Lights. Lifted from their 1983 debut Kill ‘Em All, the thrash-tastic piece was a pointed message to the naysayers; a confirmation the boys can still shred at lacerating levels and drummer Lars Ulrich can deliver those double kicks with abandon.

The follow up – Master of Puppets – was the night’s first big moment. The band doesn’t need accompanying fireworks or laser shows as the epic track packs enough drama of its own. A staple of the show for more than 25 years, Master of Puppets has left such an indelible mark on fans that Kirk Hammett’s evocative solo in the majestic middle section has the crowd singing along note for note.

Any elation generated from Master of Puppets was stomped out by double missives of Shortest Straw and Harvester of Sorrow. Lifted from arguably the band’s most brutal release, 1988‘s And Justice for All, the suffocating darkness was paired with riffs hurled at the crowd like bricks; in short, the double-play was a headbanger’s feast. Necks in fear of dislocation were given a stay of relief with Unforgiven – sorely missed back in 2011 – with Hetfield effortlessly moving from sinister growl in the verse to mournful croon in the chorus.

Perhaps the group studied the set-list of their maiden Abu Dhabi show, as last night’s repertoire filled the gaps from that performance. Those miffed at the exclusion of Nothing Else Matters would have enjoyed the solid rendition – even if Kirk Hammett needed to perform the opener twice as his sweaty finger tips couldn’t nail that integral high note. The truly hard-core showed their enthusiasm for the 1986 instrumental piece Orion.

The track remains an emotional affair for the faithful, as a reminder of deceased former bassist Cliff Burton’s dazzling bass work. Performed in its entirety only from 2006, Robert Trujillo’s distorted bass solo and melodic grooves did a fine job of evoking Burton’s magic, in what remains Metallica’s finest example of musical showmanship. After concluding the set with Enter Sandman, the boys returned for a vintage encore of Creeping Death (the 2011 show opener) and the final one-two punch of Fight Fire with Fire and Seek and Destroy. It was another epic night and remains the loudest show to come to Yas Island since the last time the boys came to town.


sasaeed@thenational.ae