Metallica, live in Belgrade, Serbia (2012)
30,000 metal fans filled the Ušće park in Belgrade on 8th of May for Metallica’s 2012 European tour. One would think that this was the first time the American metal giants were playing in Serbia. Considering they performed once already, back in 2004, the sight of so many fans this time round is a testament to the band’s enduring music and fanatic following they have not only in Serbia, but all over the world.
Supporting Metallica were French metal band Gojira and fellow Americans Machine Head whose performances warmed up the almost-capacity crowd on a relatively warm, cloudless night in Belgrade. The massive stage loomed over the crowd and as the guitars and drums were tuned one last time, fans from all over the region eagerly awaited their metal icons. At 21:15 on the dot the lights dimmed, the crowd roared and Ennio Morricone’s “Ecstasy of Gold” began playing while the two large video beams showed scenes from the classic movie “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. The band came on stage, the crowd raised fists in the air and the spectacle kicked off with the classic Metallica hit “Hit the Lights”!
“Good evening Belgrade”, roared singer James Hetfield before the band thrashed through a couple more classic head-banging songs (among them “Master of Puppets” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls“) which the crowd sang along to as loudly as they could. To mark the 20-year anniversary of the best-selling „Black Album“, on this tour Metallica will play the entire album live, something they had never done before. And so, as the last riff of „Battery“ faded away the large screens beamed a short film about the making, recording and promoting of the album back in 1991. As the film ended and the crowd cheered, the band kicked off with the last track from the album, „The Struggle Within“ which caused 30,000 metal fans to jump up and down and sing along, almost drowning out the band themselves. They played the entire Black album, but backwards, from the last song to the first. Crowd favourites were „My Friend of Misery“, „Wherever I May Roam“, „The Unforgiven“, „Sad But True“ and of course „Nothing Else Matters“ which the crowd sang at the top of their voices from start to finish. The homage to the Black album ended with the smash hit (and first track from the album) „Enter Sandman“, the band thanked the crowd, the lights dimmed and they vanished into darkness.
„We want more, we want more“ roared from the audience and sure enough, a few minutes later James came back on stage, followed by his bandmates; guitarist Kirk Hammet, bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Lars Ulirch, and with the short introduction of „Belgrade, I want you to gimme…“ they broke into the energetic, adrenalin-pumping „Fuel“, during which flame throwers, strategically placed along the front and side of the stage, shot huge flames out into the night sky. Once the flames subsided and darkness came over Ušće park, muffled explosions could be heard in the distance, accompanied by bright flashes of light shooting from all angles. The explosions got louder and penetrating gunfire burst out of the speakers as the flashes of light emulated bomb explosions and voices of screaming soldiers echoed across the park. The crowd roared in anticipation and as the green, red and yellow lasers pierced the smoke and darkness the opening notes to the metal-anthem „One“ brought chills over everyone present, young and old. What followed were 8 minutes of a spectacular light show (lasers, flames and fireworks) accompanied by loud riffs, guitar solos and Hetfield’s voice booming out of the pitch black stage. When the „war“ finally ended, the crowd cheered and clapped loudly, wanting more from the heavy metal soldiers. The band weren’t quite done yet. James shouted out „Seek…“ and the crowd responded „…and Destroy!“ and the band launched into the cult classic from their first album, a song which has become the closer to their shows since 2003.
The last notes were played almost two and a half hours after the first ones began, and as large, black balloons fell from the sky, the crowd cheered hysterically and clapped in appreciation of a monster-metal show that shook the foundations of the estuary where the Danube and Sava river meet on the edge of Belgrade. Lars grabbed the microphone and asked if he’s the only one who thinks that Metallica shouldn’t wait another eight years before they come to Belgrade again? 30.000 loud voices and pairs of hands raised in the air agreed with him.