Apr 29, 2023

Metallica: Johan Cruijff ArenA - Night Two

To think, as Rob Trujillo and I drove in for the gig this afternoon, we were listening to a bit of Massive Attack v The Mad Professor’s No Protection. Bless him, his eyes were closed, and he was chilling-ling…


It was akin to what I imagine a RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE feels like.

Every fiber in my “seen-this-lot-for-decades” body is reverberating with energy, and my ears are singing (rather loudly). I said SINGING!

As was I earlier, yes, I was singing, bouncing, had my air guitar out, screaming, roaring, and feeling in my bones what I believe to be one of the heaviest, most special sets I have witnessed in a long, long time. Maybe ever? Who knows. We all have our hyperbolic peaks and choices, but TONIGHT, tonight’s roaring, rumbling thunder-fuck of a set sent me into a near state of delirium.

James & Kirk on Stage in Amsterdam

Photo Credit: Ross Halfin

Before I get going here, a word about the two shows within this M72 configuration. I’m still wrapping my head around the full scale and scope of this gargantuan and limit-breaking production. Here’s tonight’s observation… think of it like watching a football match live. If you sit low, you get the instant hit of seeing the band up close and personal. If you sit high, you get the overview of this crazy, swirling sea of crowds, pits, towers, and band, aka ‘the overview.’

Now! Onto this insane gig. First of all, I don’t know what’s going on, but Lars, James, Kirk, and Rob are all performing like it’s mid-tour, and they’re at the top of their touring speed. Every riff carries road-ready energy, every step is confident, and Lars sits in the pocket with more live comfort than I’d ever expected at the start of a tour.

Secondly…these setlists! After tonight’s show, Rob told me that the true experience of this tour is to see both sets because you get the universal feel of Metallica, and he’s absolutely right. These M72 No Repeat Weekend shows are like one giant show with a day between, a part one and a part two, a ginormous, holistic overview of who and what Metallica is, right down to these set-list arrangements. How do you top opening with “Orion” on night one? No worries. Throw down “The Call of Ktulu” for night two as a relatively rare opener (Jeff told me it was only the 8th time as an opener), and in the process, lay down another tremendous marker for the sort of set people were going to get. Has nearly a full two hours of heavy, pain, suffering, darkness and sadness ever sounded and felt so fucking glorious? I don’t think so.

Robert on Stage in Amsterdam

Photo Credit: Ross Halfin

“Creeping Death,” paired with a “Leper Messiah,” grabbed the Cruijff Arena air with its filthy, rotten hands and throttled the life out of it. Foreboding waves of raw pain thrown like boulders at your head. I mean, Christ, two songs back-to-back with “dies” and “lies” spat extra-tersely by James. Look, you’ll all have seen the setlist, or if you were lucky, you experienced this, so I’ll spare you the track by track because tonight felt like one enormous wave of “heavy.” I mean, the jauntiest song performed was “Whiskey in the Jar,” and it’s about thievery and betrayal, so it’s not exactly “hey ho, the sun is shining for a fucking picnic!”

“72 Seasons” got a road debut, and again that setlist balance allowed it to slide in perfectly, just like an old favorite. And as for “If Darkness Had a Son?” I can see the “temp-TATION” bark being heard long and loud at Metallica gigs for years to come. “Sanitarium” into “You Must Burn!” was another sure fit. And how cool it was to see Rob riding the harmonic vocal part in “You Must Burn!” with James before the pair of them converged with Kirk to ride the riff together. Even “…Roam” felt grittier and dirtier, not as much a celebration of the road than a grizzled admission that the road is their lives and, whatever has been thrown their way, it will always be.

“Harvester of Sorrow” was a like a sonic weapon. The tragedy-saturated grudge-fuck riff reverberated around the stadium with mighty heft, and “Moth Into Flame” (by no means a light song) felt like a refresher. When “Fight Fire with Fire” started, the sheer level of attack deployed by James left me fearing a wrist injury as the band well and truly arrived at white-hot incandescence, and when I tell you that closing with “Enter Sandman” after “One” was tonight’s equivalent of some familiar, classic light-relief, you’ll understand that this set was all about Metallica in “do you want HEAVY?” mode to the max.

Lars on Stage in Amsterdam

Photo Credit: Ross Halfin

As I said earlier, saying “That was their best show since blah blah…” is all subjective, and in this family, everyone has their own personal favorites.

I’m telling you that tonight, in MY opinion, was one of the best Metallica shows (and setlists) I’ve seen in forever and a day. I’m still coming down from the glorious juxtaposition of such heavy, heavy sound and lyrics making me feel so wonderfully, gloriously ALIVE?! I’d wager there are tens of thousands in the streets of Amsterdam feeling the same.

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