Homecoming for Metallica

Metallica's James Hetfield (left) and Kirk Hammett (right) at the Singapore concert on Sunday.
Metallica's James Hetfield (left) and Kirk Hammett (right) at the Singapore concert on Sunday.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The heavy metal band wowed a 10,000-strong crowd with their hits and new material in a two-hour music odyssey



Singapore Indoor Stadium/Sunday

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 Ecstasy 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 the 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 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 with their 2013 show at the sprawling Changi Exhibition Centre, which drew 40,000 people, the band's return to the more intimate venue of the Singapore Indoor Stadium - where they played their first 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, including 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 travel to Ulrich's home country of Denmark and then South America.

These did not get the same res- ponse from fans as the classics One, Fade To Black and Seek & Destroy did - when the audience members 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 Trujillo was a beast on the bass with a groovy, bass-slapping solo that you could not take your eyes off.

Their talk of 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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2017, with the headline 'Homecoming for Metallica'. Print Edition | Subscribe