Place: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas NV
Review by ~ Aniruddh 'Andrew' Bansal
Volbeat, the band from Denmark whom I was really looking forward to see perform, hit the stage at 7 with the opening song 'The Human Instrument' from my favorite album of theirs Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil. I thoroughly enjoyed myself during this song! I had the most fun whenever a band member came over to the mic nearest to us! These guys were sounding heavy and kicking ass tonight! They next did a great rendition of their Johnny Cash cover 'Sad Man's Tongue'. I could feel from the way everyone was clapping along that there wasn't a single person in the arena who wasn't enjoying this band. Then came 'Hallelujah Goat'. I don't remember saying this for an opening band in any of my reviews, but I would say this for Volbeat. There wasn't even a single 'bad' song or dull moment during their 30-minute stay on the stage.
The song I was most waiting for, 'A Moment Forever', was played next. I was wind-milling and head banging to every note in this song and when I thought I couldn't possibly get more excited than this, the front man Michael came to 'our' mic and sung the second chorus in front of us!! In between songs Michael also addressed the crowd and he was hilarious. At one point he said 'It's a pleasure to play here in Vegas and to bring you two pretty good bands with us, a good band called Machine Head and a pretty good upcoming band by the name of Metallica!' On another occasion he said , 'We are almost done but you can stay to watch the other two bands if you like'. He definitely won the crowd over tonight. Next song was 'Pool Of Booze, Booze, Booza'. It was another very enjoyable chorus to sing. They closed the show with 'Angelfuck' and the song with a really funny chorus, 'Still Counting'. They were not done yet! To the delight of many in the crowd, they teased us with the intro riff of Slayer's 'South Of Heaven' and finally Slayer's 'Raining Blood' for a good 30 seconds or so! Needless to say, I went literally crazy during this minute-long thrash metal bliss! Overall, Volbeat provided us with a very unique blend of rockabilly and heavy metal and I simply cannot wait to see them headline on an off-date here in LA on Wednesday.
Here's their complete set list:
1. The Human Instrument
2. Sad Man's Tongue
3. Hallelujah Goat
4. A Moment Forever
5. Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza
7. Still Counting
8. South Of Heaven (Slayer) teaser
9. Raining Blood (Slayer) teaser
Machine Head hit the stage at 7.45 with the spell binding intro riff of 'Imperium'. I like most of Machine Head's songs and I think they are a great band, but this is surely my favorite. Everything about this song, the intro riff, the drum beats, the vocals and the main riffs are all awesome. Machine Head is just about the perfect band for all the head bangers out there, slow, fast and heavy all in a single song!! Robb and his mates had come out on stage with full on aggression and it was time to go crazy with the words 'Hear Me Now, Words I Vow, No Fucking Regrets!' But after the first chorus, the volume on the central vocals went down for some reason, most definitely a technical glitch. Robb kept gesturing to the sound tech's to raise the volume but apparently they couldn't, after which Robb began showing his frustration. Despite this, they continued to give it their best on stage and I for one tried my level best to sing along, head bang and support them. The crowd didn't seem to get involved though, may be because of the low vocals. But still, it was a weak response for a brutal band like Machine Head!
They played 'Ten Ton Hammer' next, followed by a song from the Blackening album 'I Lay Thee Down'. We got a lot of Phil Demmel face time and of course the Machine Head drum kit was right in front of us! I was never able to see a drummer from this angle ever before! It was very interesting to make eye contact with Dave McClain and to observe him playing. Robb Flynn kicked off another recent song 'Beautiful Mourning' with his intro riff and the words 'Fuck You All'. It was a typically heavy Machine Head tune with fast and slow phases. Phil walked over to our side to start the next song 'Halo' with his greatly melodious riff. This song was a nine-minute long combination of aggressive head-banging and melody. Singing along the chorus was one of the high points of their show for me. I was very surprised that almost none of the crowd were responding to Robb when he gestured them to jump up and down and head bang. He even had to shout and tell people to bang their heads. For me, it is completely impossible to not bang my head when Robb tells me to do so! Well I really hope the Anaheim crowd is better than this. I also wished that we could get a Machine Head headline show in LA but sadly that is not going to happen at least this time. They closed out their set with one of their older songs 'Davidian'. As soon as their show got over, Dave turned around and looked straight at me. He threw toward me one of his drum sticks but some drunk fat idiot behind me snatched it right out of my hands, even hurting my face in the process. You know who you are, and if you are reading this, you sir will die a thousand excruciating deaths.
Here's their complete set list:
2. Ten Ton Hammer
3. Now I Lay Thee Down
4. Beautiful Mourning
It was time for the incredible crew members to get the stage ready for Metallica. These guys do it at lightning speed and I simply had to make a mention of them in this review. Hats off to them! Waiting for Metallica to come out on stage is never boring because the excitement and adrenaline is always so high. At around 9.15, the lights went out. We heard Ecstasy Of Gold on the PA. After that, the heart beat intro for the first song 'That Was Just Your Life' rang loud and clear around the arena. The emotions from last year started running through me once again. A huge roar went around in the arena as everyone was shouting at the top of their lungs. The people in the higher seats really went crazy as they must have seen the band sneak into the arena and run to the area near the stage. We got a very clear glance at the guys as they were about to step on the stage using the stairs nearer to us! I cannot so justice to the extent to my joy and excitement at that very moment.
The laser patterns appeared on stage as they were just about to hit the stage. Lars, James, Robert and Kirk ran on to the stage and the madness began! James went over to the other side to play the first few riffs then ran over to us when it was time to start singing! There are very few in this music industry who have the kind of stage presence and aura that James Hetfield possesses. It was as great as all the previous times I've seen him, if not better. The lasers were switched off and the house lights came on to indicate the end of this song. 'The End Of The Line' was played next, keeping the crowd's energy level and even raising it further. I really loved singing along to the lines after the interlude. Robert and Kirk came to our side plenty of times during this song and it was a major thrill. This is something that you can experience only from the very first row, the rail. There is an enormous difference in the kind of concert experience even if you move back to the second row!
The title song off of my favorite Metallica album, 'Ride The Lightning' followed. The chorus was sung loud and clear by one and all, with James even letting us fill in a few lines of it by ourselves! This was the fourth time in seven shows that I saw them play this song, and it will surely never get old or repetitive for me! I loved every moment of it. The set so far didn't even allow us to breathe for a single second, but it was time for a little change in tempo with the next one. They brought out 'The Memory Remains'. Its definitely a good live song, and I didn't mind it at all, considering that I needed a little breather from all the head banging I had been doing for the past 20 minutes or so! It was an easy sing along for all of us. I would definitely like the band to continue playing one song from Load or Reload in all their shows! After all, despite the fact that the old school Metallica fans including myself aren't the biggest fans of the 90s Metallica, those albums were their own creation and looking at it from their point of view, why should they ignore those songs? I would have loved to hear Fuel, but may be next time!
They gave a new life and a special touch to the night with the next song 'Fade To Black'. I was waiting to hear this song live since forever and finally I got it!! Of course not only me but everyone else gave out a huge roar of approval as soon as they realized that it was indeed Fade To Black. We sang the twin guitar melodies Latin American style and it was blissful to say the least. So now it was 2 out of 5 for the Ride The Lightning album and I was in dreamland. After this trippy experience James asked his usual question about how many people had seen Metallica before and how many hadn't. Then it was back to the Death Magnetic songs with 'Broken, Beat And Scarred'. I feel that this is a very underrated song in this album. Whatever you think of the studio version, in a live show this is one of the best new songs! 'Show Your Scars' shouted Robert with his solid and powerful backing vocals and we all gave him company. They continued playing from the new album and brought out 'Cyanide'. After another great performance of this song, James asked the crowd, 'Do you want heavy?' The answer from us was obvious. 'Metallica gives you heavy', said James as they belted out the first of their staple tunes 'Sad But True'. I got a chance to do the slow head bang again after Machine Head and a little bit of it in Fade.
Lars' drum kit turned 90 degrees clockwise. The sound of the firing guns and choppers hit our ears as we knew the next song would be 'One'. Blasts of pyro lifted up all around the stage and everyone in the first few rows felt a sudden surge of warmth, letting out a roar of excitement as well. The band lifted the tempo of the show quite a few notches from the previous song, and the song numbers 9 to 13 were simply brutal, specially on my neck and arm muscles as I banged away at full tilt while raising my fists as high as I could, extending my arms out almost in an effort to touch those legends on stage. This phase started with 'One' and the pyro's came shooting out in the middle of the stage to the rhythm of the machine-gun guitar solo! The pyro technicians did a wonderful job as well by keeping up with the band the whole time. Two more new songs 'All Nightmare Long' and 'The Day That Never Comes' followed. Kirk also played his first solo in between these songs. As always, All Nightmare Long was a great sing-along, what with the number counting and everything, it was nothing short of legendary. Day That Never Comes has to be the most progressive Metallica song since One. There is a gradual increase in speed and energy level associated with this song as it goes by. It makes for a perfect live song for sure. The last couple of minutes of it were completely insane. The third staple song, 'Master Of Puppets' was next. I need not say anything about this song other than the fact that its one of the best songs ever written and that the band does complete justice to it with the live performance.
The fastest song of the set is often song number 13, and it was the case this time too. I used every drop of energy left in me to rock out to 'Fight Fire With Fire'. This made the show the best Metallica gig I've ever seen, with as many as three songs from a certain album released in 1984. Kirk's second solo followed this. I am so thankful to the band for keeping 'Nothing Else Matters' as the number 14 song because it is a complete contrast to the previous song and gives all of us a well-deserved breather! Having said that, I do enjoy softly singing along to the easy lyrics of NEM too. 'Enter Sandman' was kicked off with another blast of pyro's and it ended the main set tonight. They came back out for the encore with the Misfits cover 'Die, Die My Darling'. Now the next song pretty much sealed the deal as far as this set being the most perfect Metallica set I have ever been a part of. 'Whiplash' is the song I am talking about. Its amazing how the band can still do this song despite the fact that it was released back in 1983 when they were teenagers and sounded so different, specially James's voice. After the Kill 'Em All dose, James asked us to give them our 110 per cent for the last song of the show as the huge black Death Magnetic beach balls came tumbling down from the ceiling on to the stage and the band started 'Seek And Destroy'. I am pretty sure that somebody stationed on the ceiling had made a mistake, because some balls were falling directly on Lars' head and drum kit! His expression as he ran away from his seat and tried to play drums standing, was absolutely priceless! My friend managed to grab a deflated ball for himself! I really don't get the point of trying to hold on to those huge balls. It beats the very logic behind them. I think they are meant to be bounced around among the whole crowd, and not for individuals to spoil it by holding on to them! Anyway, the show ended after this and the band members walked all around the stage, thanking each and every one of us while throwing a whole bunch of guitar picks and drum sticks. I managed to get two guitar picks that will become souvenirs in addition to the unforgettable moments I would remember forever.
Overall, it was the best Metallica experience I have ever had, and I hope to see them again in Anaheim this coming Thursday. Metallica loves Las Vegas and we all love Metallica!!
Here's their complete set list:
1. That Was Just Your Life
2. The End Of The Line
3. Ride The Lightning
4. The Memory Remains
5. Fade To Black
6. Broken, Beat And Scarred
8. Sad But True
10. All Nightmare Long
11. Kirk solo #1
12. The Day That Never Comes
13. Master Of Puppets
14. Fight Fire With Fire
15. Kirk solo #2
16. Nothing Else Matters
17. Enter Sandman
18. Die, Die My Darling
20. Seek And Destroy
Interview with Andrew of FULL METAL ROCK and Phil of MACHINE HEAD
Andrew: Phil, how are you doing man?
Phil: Doing good man!
Andrew: You are on tour with Metallica, and when you don't play with Metallica you play with Megadeth. Life must be good?
Phil: Yeah! Its been either Metallica, Megadeth, Lamb Of God, Slayer, Slipknot or Heaven And Hell. So you know we've had the best tours and its been really really good.
Andrew: A few months back in Europe James Hetfield joined you guys on stage. Can you tell us how that felt?
Phil: It was one of the highlights of my musical career having him approach us. He originally came into our dressing room and played it on the drums first and then he was like ok may be I'll play this one with you live or something like that. So he came up and did it twice and it was awesome, very amazing and very surreal.
Andrew: What is the reason for not doing a proper headline tour of the US? Is it just because of your schedule and not being able to fit it in with the support treks?
Phil: We wanted to, but then the Megadeth thing came up. How can you deny doing Slayer and Megadeth? And then the Megadeth tour, and then the Metallica shows came up. We headlined so much in the states. So it was better off doing this. We're doing a proper headlining of Europe, which are more deserving in my eyes.
Andrew: We in the states deserve it too, don't we?
Phil: Of course. I didn't say the states didn't deserve it. But I mean if we had to pick one it would be Europe. Europe has been really faithful to us whenever we've been there doing out the whole thing, so more deserving in my eyes.
Andrew: This tour [with Metallica] is your last in the touring cycle for the Blackening album. After this you have a UK tour. Tell us a little bit about that.
Phil: It will be UK, Europe and then its also going to be Japan and Australia. So it's the Black Procession tour with us, Hatebreed, Bleeding Through and All Shall Perish, and then in Europe, and I think we have Emmure opening in Japan and Australia. So we are looking to do a full set, an hour and forty minutes, may be more, stuff that we haven't played and just get out there and play our own set and tour the way that we want to.
Andrew: Your Blackening album was released back in 2007 and you're coming to the end of its touring cycle. So when are you planning to go back in the studio and write some new material?
Phil: We'll write in the spring when we get home from the tour. We'll be home in April, so I would imagine late April we will reconvene in the studio and start writing the follow-up. So I don't know when it will be ready and when we are going to record. We are not setting any time. When its ready then we'll go in.
Andrew: You first album with the band was 'Through The Ashes Of Empires'. It was released in Europe in 2003 but was initially turned down by labels here. Talk us a little bit through that period.
Phil: We were really close to signing with another American independent label. Roadrunner international came in at the eleventh hour and decided to pick up the record. We had four songs recorded and we asked Roadrunner America but they passed on it. So then it comes out in Europe and blows up, does really well and then they said ok now we want to put it out. So that's why there was a six month interval between the releases. It hurt us as far as not having a simultaneous release, but looking back now its all water under the bridge. Its kind of like, it helped build us. It provided us with the Blackening if anything. We had the record out, we saw the disrespect and the lack of respect helped us put out the Blackening. So I would say it helped.
Andrew: You have toured with numerous great bands recently. Is there any band that comes to your mind right now which you haven't toured with, and would love to?
Phil: We did four shows with Slayer and that was called a tour. But I would like to do an extended run with Slayer. They are the reason why I am playing heavy music and I would love to tour with them.
Andrew: Slayer have so many fans so they will bring in the crowd for you.
Phil: I think we can handle ourselves in front of the Slayer fans. We have proven that we can. We love Slayer, but we can hold our own with them.
Andrew: You have a heart condition because of which you tend to black out. How much progress have you made with that and recently have you been confident enough that it won't happen on stage?
Phil: I can never be sure that it won't happen because three out of the four times I was pretty surprised that it did. Healthwise its been better. Its more a head space thing than anything else you know, so it has a lot to do with depression and has a lot to do with stress. Ever since my father died two years ago, tomorrow is the anniversary, its been tough man. So its hard to gather all those emotions and keep things in check. So I can't be sure. But I feel better these days for sure.
Andrew: How were the gigs that you did in places like India, Israel and Dubai last year?
Phil: That whole run was amazing. We'd played Dubai before. So we played there first and that was the last time I've been really sick. That was almost two years ago. I was deathly ill, I had pink eye and my equilibrium was really fucked up. So I couldn't go and see all the cool things that everybody was doing, but the show in Dubai was amazing. Awesome festival, and then from there we went into Israel and crazy kids just aching for metal and it was so good. Then we went to India to play this festival with Megadeth. We were staying in this plantation like hotel with amazing amenities and it was really cool. Then 40,000 kids show up screaming and having a great time. So really exotic places and each one of them was really cool. In India, we remember walking in on this red carpet and they had this procession of people dancing and drums and everything. When we stopped, they stopped. They were kinda following us and gave us a coconut. It was so cool.
Andrew: What's been your favorite moment or memory of 2009, now that we're coming to the end of the year?
Phil: So many cool things have happened to this band. There's been so many benchmarks made and achieved, bigger things and bigger venues. It would have to be playing the festival weekend. We headlined Wacken and there were like 85,000 people there. It was one of the best shows in Machine Head's history, if not the best show, and then hurried off to a private plane that was booked for us to fly to Sonisphere UK to play with Metallica, then to wake up and have this really cool hotel. That whole weekend was the highlight of 2009 for me. Then the Kerrang awards on the next night and something like that. It was a really cool weekend.
Andrew: Thanks for your time Phil. Have a great show and tour!
Phil: Thank you very much.