Concert review: Metallica pull out all stops for two-hour odyssey

Metallica performing Moth Into Flame at the Indoor Stadium on Jan 22, 2017.ST VIDEO: ANJALI RAGURAMAN
James Hetfield (left) and Kirk Hammett perform during Metallica's concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Jan 22, 2017.
James Hetfield (left) and Kirk Hammett perform during Metallica's concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Jan 22, 2017.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Metallica Worldwired Tour 2017 Singapore

Singapore Indoor Stadium/ Sunday (Jan 22)

There are rock bands, and then there are heavy metal showstoppers.

Metallica on Sunday yet again proved their status as gods of metal, taking the 10,000-strong army of black-clad concertgoers at the Indoor Stadium on a two-hour music odyssey that dipped into enough of their new material without alienating the fans who were there to hear the classics.

Their trademark opener of Ennio Morricone's Ecstacy Of Gold at 8.30pm sharp heralded the arrival of James Hetfield on vocals and guitar, Kirk Hammett on lead guitar, Rob Trujillo on bass and Lars Ulrich on drums.

They pulled out all the stops with the production: Stage-to-ceiling screens provided close-ups of every sweat bead and chipped nail on Hammett as he was shredding on his White Zombie guitar, and on Ulrich as he was hammering away on his drum kit.

Stunning laser lights enveloped the entire stadium in criss-crossing neon beams that proved just as mesmerising on slower classic tracks such as Nothing Else Matters as on the speed metal track Moth Into Flame, which Hetfield described as "a song about fame swallowing up your life".

Compared to their 2013 show at the sprawling Changi Exhibition Centre, which drew 40,000, the band's return to the more intimate venue of the Singapore Indoor Stadium - where they played their first-ever concert here in 1993 - also felt like a homecoming of sorts.

Constantly referring to the crowd as "family", Hetfield engaged the crowd with rallying banter, declaring: "We like it loud, and we love it when the family is loud with us!" And it truly was a family affair, with everyone from long-haired young children to seasoned, equally long-haired metalheads in the crowd.

From the get-go, the band played tracks off their latest album, Hardwired...To Self Destruct with the frantic Hardwired and the instant classic, Atlas, Rise!. A total of six songs from the 12-track album were featured throughout the set, including Now That We're Dead, and Confusion, and the live version of Halo On Fire got its debut on this Asian leg of the tour. Singapore was the last stop of a five-city Asian tour that started in South Korea, and passed through China and Hong Kong .

Not all the new songs sounded effortless; some felt like warm-ups for the later legs of their tour, which will next travel to Ulrich's home country of Denmark and then South America.

They didn't get the same response from fans like the classics One, Fade To Black and Seek & Destroy did - when the audience liked the songs they formed circle pits in the mosh pit and sang along enthusiastically.

Material from more recent albums such as Death Magnetic (2008) and St Anger (2003) were left out of the setlist, which drew heavily from The Black Album (1991) and Ride The Lightning (1984).

"Do you want heavy? Metallica gives you heavy," Hetfield announced before the band launched into the chugging guitars of Sad But True.

Hammett got plenty of time with the wah wah pedal on blistering guitar solos, and Hetfield constantly played to the crowd, but bassist Trujillo too was a beast on the bass with a groovy, bass-slapping solo that you couldn't take your eyes off.

Their talk of their fans being family seemed sincere when, after an intense three-song encore of Fight Fire With Fire, Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman, they lingered on stage after the house lights went up.

Each member took the microphone to thank the crowd. The loudest cheers were reserved for Ulrich's promise: "We will see you very soon."