Metallica in bangalore: When the bell tolled for us!  

Posted by Praveen


                                
The picture worth a frame. Metallica thanking the Indian crowd after the concert. 29/10/11

In the past 5-6 years, I’ve attended almost every concert by international bands in India- from Maiden to Porcupine tree to Meshuggah. Each of those was like a dream come true. But one name on top of my band wishlist remained uncut, a band which served as the best possible introduction to my favorite genre of music. It was towards the end of high school that someone lend me an overused cassette of the black album. I was told that I will either love it to the core or hate it to the extreme. Those days, the term music band used to bring to my mind such illustrious names as 'backstreet boys', 'westlife', 'boyzone' etc. Songs with pumping beats were 'rock' to me. I didn't know that something called metal existed. I pushed that old cassette into my not so big tape recorder. The opening strains of 'Enter sandman' were heard. The next one hour was like a blur. I couldn't make any sense of it. All I knew was I felt really pumped up hearing some of the songs. Metallica, the name registered in my brain. I didn't know how big they were nor was I big enough to appreciate how good that album was.

In the next two years, I heard more music of the same genre. I discovered Priest, Maiden, Sabbath, Megadeth etc. Slayer and Pantera came in later. But Metallica remained the eternal favorite. And, after watching classic concert DVDs like the 'Monsters of Rock' in Moscow, I wanted to be one among those screaming madmen, forced against the front barricade.  In the past decade, Metallica released some albums which many felt they shouldn't have. From being a bunch of four guys who were angry at the system, they (Lars Ulrich, to be precise) flaunted their elevation to bourgeois class by cracking down on kids downloading their music. They shifted from the raw fast paced pure thrash of the 80s to the mellower mainstream tone of the late 90s. But still for those first five albums, for those evergreen riffs and for those five discs of immense expression of anger, we love them. Maybe, worship them.

It has been months of anticipation, from the day 'Metallica in India' concerts were announced. The events in Delhi on Oct 27 made us all frantic. A veil of uncertainty remained over the Bangalore concert as I got on the train from Madras. I was dying to click this concert but before long it was clear that any such dreams are best forgotten. The weekend was the coming together of many old friends in Bangalore, all united under what James Hetfield termed as the 'metallica family'. As we travelled to the concert, we could see the road from MG road to palace grounds was chockablock with traffic, and all of those vehicles had groups of people wearing black metallica tees. Strangers flashed the horns at each other.

Passing through the gates, we got a taste of how big the crowd was going to be. It was a task to locate our huge group sitting under the 'blue tree', enjoying the power of jagermeister. Familiar faces, glimpsed and forgotten at many concerts, passed by. I was getting restless to go in and tried to pull in the others. They lounged around, even as most of the crowd went inside the concert arena. At a distance, we saw a convoy of cars riding into the ground, in our direction. Three of them passed me by. The fourth one had a familiar face sitting by the side and smiling. Familiar to me, not the other way around! It was Lars Ulrich. I stood there, dazed. The next second, I could sense myself running alongwith the car flashing the horns at him. He looked straight into my eyes and flashed it back. I felt like I was caught in one of those slow motion scenes, which take an eternity to finish. Or was it my senses slowing up!? The next car had caught up with my running by then. I turned my head and there he was, my favorite Metallica man- James Hetfield. Now I was screaming incoherently, running alongwith the car and with the horns still flashing. I realised that lightning can strike the same place twice when Hetfield also did what Ulrich had done few seconds back. Somewhere, I caught a glimpse of Hammett too. The next five minutes, a few of us ran around screaming in random directions. It still didn't sink in, whether it was jagermeister's trick or whether it all actually happened.

We entered the concert arena on a high, of having seen them up close. Rain started pouring and the slush was getting heavier. We had missed two opening acts by then. The Scottish rock act Biffy clyro was playing in the rain and they were surprisingly good. By then, our group had got lost in the huge crowd and I managed to get five of us together. After Biffy Clyro, it was a wait of almost an hour for metallica to start. Old rock and metal hits were heard from the speakers as the technicians went about their job. In between, one of the band's representatives asked the crowd to step back a little from the barricade and they promptly obeyed. The spirit was building up by then. And at 10 minutes past eight, the strains of 'ecstasy of gold', that classic Ennio Morricone score from 'The good, the bad and the ugly', were heard. A staple of all metallica concerts from the 80s, the theme accompanied by scenes from the movie projected on the screen, had the crowd screaming in anticipation for the band's appearance. Then, at the crescendo, Lars popped in behind the kit and played the opening beats of the epic 'creeping death'. All hell broke loose when Hetfield, Hammett and Trujillo joined in. There was a sudden surge forward and the moshpits started.
                                                 
Trujillo during one of his famous antics

The Hemingway inspired 'For whom the bell tolls' followed. 'Fuel' fit in with the racing mood that India was gripped in over the weekend.  Hammett launching into the solo amidst the pyrotechnics brought in goosebumps. Their own knowledge of how fans perceive their recent albums was best exemplified by James asking the crowd permission to play the song ‘Cyanide’ from the ‘Death magnetic’ album. The best moment of the day came at the end of 'The memory remains', when the crowd chanted non-stop for three minutes. The look of astonishment on Hetfield's face had to be seen to be believed. This chanting prompted him to say, "Bangalore, you are beautiful". ‘One’ was another of the much awaited songs of the night. When those intro gunshots and helicopter sounds replicating a war scene were heard, the screams were louder than for most other songs. And how they pulled it off, Oh boy!
Hetfield in full flow as the pyrotechnics go off during 'fuel'

This Metallica was surely different from the ones that we caught a glimpse of in recent times in youtube, going through their motions and looking almost bored on stage. It looked like they were truly excited in discovering so many fans in a country that they never been before.  This perhaps was the band discovering their lost form and it all looked like a throwback to their heydays in the 90s. With the exception of 'sad but true', almost every song was perfectly rendered. The tightness was best on display in 'Master of puppets'. When Hetfield went to the upper stage, raised up the mike and sang the 'master, master' chorus with the crowd, the excitement had reached a crescendo. Many (including yours truly) had tears in their eyes, having fulfilled a dream of 20 years.  And, then he gave us that evil laugh too! Could this have got any better?

 
Kirk Hammett with Trujillo in the background

‘Nothing else matters’ was another highly anticipated song and as with every other song, the whole crowd sang to it. With ‘Enter sandman’ ending in fireworks ending in fireworks lighting up the sky, the band bid the customary ‘goodbye before the encore’. With the crowd crying out for more, they were back before long with the cover song ‘Am I evil?’ The song ‘battery’ was one unexpected inclusion in the set list. ‘Seek & destroy’ provided a perfect end to the best concert that I have watched till date. The crowd of almost 50,000 clearly surpassed the previous attendance levels in international concerts in India. Lars Ulrich soon announced that they will surely be back in India soon. So, all is not lost for those of you who missed it this time.  They hung around on the stage for more than 10 minutes after they finished playing, distributing more and more plectrums and drum sticks. It looked like they just couldn’t get enough of the Indian crowd. As we walked back through the heavy slush, I mentally struck off that name from the top of my band wish list. Now, left on top is one more from the Big four, Slayer and AC/DC.
                                     
Hetfield and Trujillo

Metallica is more than just a band to many of us. It is an emotion that binds a million black tee sporting people worldwide. They gave us the first taste of metal music, when we did not know any such thing existed. Over the years, we have listened to a thousand more bands. But Metallica remained the eternal favorite. And, after watching classic concert DVDs like the 'Monsters of Rock' in Moscow, I wanted to be one among those screaming madmen, forced against the front barricade.  In the past decade, Metallica released some albums which many felt they shouldn't have. From being a bunch of four guys who were angry at the system, they flaunted their elevation to bourgeois class by cracking down on kids downloading their music. They shifted from the raw fast paced pure thrash of the 80s to the mellower mainstream tone of the 90s. But still for those first five albums, for those evergreen riffs and for those five discs of immense expression of anger, we love them. Maybe, worship them. This concert was a slap on the face for those posers who said that ‘Metallica is passé’.
                                     
Lars Ulrich

Setlist:
The Ecstasy of Gold (Ennio Morricone's theme song from 'The good, the bad and the ugly')
Creeping Death
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Fuel
Ride the Lightning
Fade to Black
Cyanide
The Memory Remains
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Sad But True
All Nightmare Long
One
Master of Puppets
Blackened
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman

Encore:
Am I Evil? (Diamond Head cover)
Battery
Seek & Destroy


All pictures courtesy- Metallica.com

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 03, 2011 at Thursday, November 03, 2011 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

3 comments

Must have been quite an experience.

10:39 AM

You transported me to the concert through your write-up and the pictures.As always , I loved your writing !

10:40 PM

Thanks for this review. I felt as if I was there among the crowd.

5:05 PM

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