by / August 4th, 2009 /

Metallica – Marlay Park, Dublin

The summer is coming to a close for Irish hard rock fans, but not before metal giants Metallica returned to Dublin’s Marlay Park for the second year running, with a medley of impressive support acts in tow. Despite Lamb of God and Thin Lizzy dropping off the bill, this promised to be an essential live event for those with a penchant for rock. Unfortunately, these things don’t always go to plan. The day had promised to start well for Irish rockers Glyder, in what was undoubtedly the highest point of their career here to date. After slogging it on the live circuit over the last number of years, Glyder deserved this high profile slot but unfortunately, sound problems plagued their set and continued to blight much of the performances to follow.

While Mastodon can be a baffling prospect on record, the thought of seeing them do their prog metal thing live is still appealing. Regrettably the sound problems from Glyder’s set continued unabated and much of their set amalgamated into one indistinguishable medley of feedback, roars from frontman Troy Sanders and a much too loud bass overload. Although the likes of ‘Blood & Thunder’ allowed minor sparks of guitar-led brilliance to shine through the cracks, overall it was far from a memorable performance. Even though the band delved into their back catalogue and played a selection of tunes off each album, with non-existent crowd interaction and nothing to get the fans going, Mastodon just weren’t on top of their game.

In their second Irish stint on a tour with Metallica in recent years, Alice In Chains played a triumphant mix of greatest hits with tasters of their upcoming album Black Gives Way To Blue. Opening with a trippy ‘Rain When I Die’, the sun shone down on a set which relied heavily on Dirt-era material, including a note-perfect ‘Them Bones’ and a rocking rendition of ‘Dam That River’. New single ‘A Looking In View’ and the first ever live outing of ‘Check My Brain’ stayed true to the AIC legacy and easily meshed with the well-worn back catalogue, heightening anticipation that the new record (the first in over a decade) will be well worth the wait. Working the stage and interacting with the throng, new vocalist Will DuVall more than proved his competency in filling Layne Staley’s shoes, particularly as he split harmonies with Jerry Cantrell on ‘Would?’ and ‘Angry Chair’. Clad in all black, sporting an MC5 t-shirt and leather jacket, DuVall was the definition of nonchalant rock star cool. Finishing off with a beautiful version of ‘Rooster’ it became clear that – musically anyway – Alice In Chains should’ve been the headliners.

To have Avenged Sevenfold up next was a ridiculous case of bad scheduling. Heavily tattooed and offering a barrage of expletives between every song from frontman M Shadows, Avenged Sevenfold came across as though they had hardly rehearsed, amounting to an overlong, style-over-substance set which lacked any genuine passion. Despite the obvious flaws in this band’s artillery, their minor team of support on the day clearly got what they came for with the pit going wild during ‘Eternal Rest’ and throughout the endlessly screechy ‘Scream’. Highlight of the hour-long set came when a young Irish lad was plucked onstage to perform the first verse of Pantera’s ‘Walk’. Instead of cowering at the back as expected, he managed to upstage the band by giving it his all regardless of the 45,000 spectators and did a better job of the Pantera classic than Avenged Sevenfold in 2006.

After an endless soundcheck which failed to improve the sound situation, Metallica bounded onstage and launched into a storming ‘Blackened’. Playing the inevitable ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ just a few songs in managed to stop the endless chants for it as witnessed in years gone by and the band kept older fans sweet by hitting them with less likely material like ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ and ‘Harvester of Sorrow’. So far so good.

Death Magnetic may have redeemed Metallica in the eyes of many after the diabolical St Anger and nondescript Load/Reload, but in the live setting tracks from this record were simply lost under the weight of Metallica’s seminal output from the 80s. Despite James Hetfield’s energy, the trio of ‘Broken, Beat & Scarred’, ‘All Nightmare Long’ and ‘Cyanide’ plodded along in typical middle of the road fashion, simply adding fuel to the fire that this band’s best days are well and truly behind them. As always, the Black Album was revisited with the obligatory ‘Enter Sandman’ along with the far superior ‘Sad But True’ in a setlist that was just too similar to last year’s and the gig in 2006 before that. In essence, this could have been any one of the band’s previous gigs in this country in the last five years.

Criticism aside, it’s hard to fault Metallica’s onstage prowess – the sheer professionalism and presence of the band has made them an act that fans return to time and time again, regardless of increasingly inflated ticket prices. For newcomers to Metallica, this was an incredible showcase of a metal powerhouse at work; particularly at moments like the explosive live staple ‘One’, complete with fireworks display. Unfortunately, as displayed by the endless stream of gig-goers leaving the site surprisingly early into the set, Metallica have suffered from overkill due to the frequency of their coming to these shores in recent years. What could have been a spectacular platform for a new record and a celebration of their innovative history amounted to a strong case of undeniable deja vu.

Photos: James Goulden

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  • Joe

    I disagree wholey. Metallica’s performance last year was poor full of mistakes, unlike the excellent Puppets anniversary gig, which was easily matched by this gig. Broken, Beat and Scared is arguably their best song. Metallica ARE back, engaging and alive.

  • Anna

    It was my first Metallica concert and the most amazing night of my life! I came from Poland just to see them and I never imagined I would be that close to them (I was at the pit). I loved Whiskey in the jar and all of the other songs. I can’t wait to see them again either in Dublin or in Poland.

  • mark

    very poor this time around,Alice in Chains stoll the show!

  • mark

    I ment Stole of course!

  • Ciaran

    don’t agree with the reviewers comments about the setlist being too similar to previous years…Motorbreath, Fight fire with fire, Blackened, Harvester of sorrow, All nightmare long, Day that never comes, Broken beat and Scarred, Turn the page and killing time were not played last year……that’s 9 out of 18 songs…..and the death magnetic material was received brilliantly buy the audience where i was standing….

  • This was my 14th time seeing Metallica and I found it a lacklustre, uninspired, run of the mill show. Metallica were a band I (like many) never flinched about buying overpriced tickets for but after the last two shows here,particularly with the increasingly jokeworthy support acts, I won’t be going to see them again for a long time.

    @Ciaran – the writer makes it clear the show was similar to years gone by (which it was)collectively speaking, not just similar to last year’s show as you point out “too similar to last year’s and the gig in 2006 before that. In essence, this could have been any one of the band’s previous gigs in this country in the last five years”.

    I would also ask who exactly the audience around you were you enjoyed the Death Magnetic material…were they teenagers who also clearly only heard Whisky & Sandman live for the first time this year & would’ve enjoyed anything that night? Where I was standing there were unanimous chants of “NO! It’s shit!” etc when Hetfield asked if we liked DM.

  • To John above, how any self confessed Metallica fan can say Death Magnetic is shit is simply laughable.You obviously just think it makes you somehow a cooler, “old-school die-hard” type of fan. Grow up!! For God’s sake. I have been into Metallica since Ride the lightning and in my opinion DM is right up there with their best, classic style stuff. It may even be my personal favourite. And to ridicule somebody because they were teenagers seeing Metallica for the first time shows what a retarded old c**t you must be. DM is a genuine return to form, for people prepared to give it a try and not stuck in the 80’s like some brain-dead retard.You probably have the same jacket and the same spots you had. Even worse, you’re probably actually proud of the fact.

  • To dsweeney, are you a moron? Where exactly do I say I think DM is shit? I said the crowd around me were chanting it is shit, I actually like the album myself but if you re-read my comment, I didn’t give my own opinion of it in the comment.

    I was merely agreeing that the material (3 songs in a row if I remember correctly) stalled the flow on the day and didn’t help the already nondescript performance as pointed out in the review and I was disagreeing with Ciaran who said it was received brilliantly by the crowd.

    Does that make it any clearer for you or will I put it in bullet points?

  • Diarmuid

    John, i dunno what kinda people were hanging around near you but where i was the Death Magnetic songs went down very very well and i didnt hear a single person call them shit.

  • CASSO

    I downloaded the gig from Metallica’s live website and i have
    to say it just re-affirmed my opinion that it was a great
    performance by Metallica. Hetfield sounded in great voice.
    As for the DM songs, fropm were i was everyone seemed to really like them. Also in my own opinion DM is a great album and is deffo up there with their earlier albums.
    As for the review of the gig. I dont think much of it,the reviewer does not state how much energy Metallica gave. It was much better than last years performance and the sound (from were i was standing) was much better than last year. I think the weather helped alot as it wasn’t as breezy as last year.

  • What’s the link for the download? I think that’ll be of interest to a lot of people.

  • @Diarmuid – I can’t speak for the whole of Marlay Park now can I, was just pointing out what I witnessed where I was stood.

    @Casso – it wasn’t that the gig was atrocious per se like the band were top notch as usual but there was just something a bit meh about the whole thing, or maybe I’ve seen them too much at this stage, either way it just wasn’t as great IMO as it could’ve been

  • CASSO

    @phil udell – You can buy it from their http://www.livemetallica.com website, in mp3 or FLAC quality.

    @john – I kinda know what you mean, to be honest i am getting a bit peeved off at the outdoor shows. I think people would see and hear a better metallica if they played indoors.
    But since they are Number 1 in my books then in my biased opinion i cannot fault them that much for 2009 gig. :0)

  • John, if you actually re-read your post you will clearly see where you say “from where I was standing there were UNANIMOUS chants of “no, it’s shit”. What the hell else are we to take from that ? How could I tell from that you actually quite like DM?

  • Mama

    Kupa

  • ozzfan1989

    I thought Metallica were amazing!
    I haven’t seen them before but i’ve downloaded a lot of live shows and I think this was the best 1 since 2003 RDS.
    the reviewer was comletely wrong bout metallica they clearly deserved to be headlining.

    Did any1 hear the f**k up in one at the end?? lmao it was gr8!

  • Young metal attack

    Hey all, I was at the concert and thought it was a huge improvement on 2008, the atmosphere, the sound i dunno it was just better in a lot of ways, and was an amazing gig.

    This review is absolute rubbish really, clearly written by what seems more of a grunge fan with his fawning to AIC whom i really like btw. I would love to know how he could see “streams” of people leaving from where he took those pics? Pretty obvious its yet another guy with a chip on his shoulder with regard to MetallicA, but is doing his best to hide with fake comments of praise. to say it was like the last show is just ill informed and makes you look stupid really as they played Turn the page fight fire with fire all the DM stuff motorbreath blackened killing time all diff to last time out! Know your facts b4 writing rubbish!! I just dunno why people like this get to write reviews, reminds me of another tool, Ian Doherty i think his sname is, anyway sorry for rambling.

    But as you could see MetallicA were in great shape for this and showed when Hetfield was literally bouncing on the stage for Seek and Destroy!! and went in to the crowd too was great energy and party like atmosphere there really enjoyed it!!

    Stand-out points were Harevester, Fight fire with fire, all the DM stuff was great Turn the page was unreal, as was blackened for the opener!

    TO JOHN: I dunno what part of the crowd you were in, but Death Magnetic got a great response from the crowd around me, i understand that they will not get the response as say master of puppets would get, but it’s peoples 1st time seeing these songs live and for me i wanna stand and watch and try and take it in as much as possible and listen to the new stuff for the 1st time and im sure a lot of people are the same.

  • Two points. Lisa knows her stuff and argues her opinion well. And she is not a guy of any sort, not least one with a chip on her shoulder.

  • Young metal attack

    oooppps misread that, thought the name at the end was the person who wrote it!

    It’s still a very poor attempt at reviewing a concert! no real insight to how the crowd were reacting (very very very well) the bands great interation as always with the crowd, and the unreal energy of MetallicA on the night!!! and also full of false “fact” with regard to playing same set as last time, very lazy really

  • Cheers Phil, first time I was called a guy anyway!

    Young metal attack – considering you were unable to distinguish between the credits for a (female) writer and (male) photographer, I think it’s you who needs to “know your facts” before leaving anymore lazy and pointless comments.

  • dsweeney

    I think he has a valid point about this year’s set-list being different Lisa and you should acknowledge the error on your part. Any review is only one person’s opinion (yours in this case ) but stating something as a fact when it’s incorrect will be rightly shot down.

  • Patrick Conboy

    Having read through the article, I don’t see any reference to Metallica having played a set identical to their other recent Irish performances. What I did read was this:

    “…in a setlist that was just too similar to last year’s and the gig in 2006 before that…”

    Last time I checked the Oxford Dictionary, the words ‘same’ and ‘similar’ had two different definitions.

    I’ve been to a few Metallica gigs in my time and their setlists do tend to be repetitive. I didn’t get to attend this time around but the general consensus from anyone I’ve spoken to who did go was that this was the case once again – give or take the odd tune. Having said that, though, they generally do put on a good show.

    And finally, as an aside, Alice in Chains are not – repeat NOT – a grunge band!

  • dsweeney

    I think young metal attack named more than enough tracks played this time around for it to be a sufficiently different set-list from previous years.

  • TAMAMAN

    After reading this,I definetely think that ‘Lisa’ was one of those people standing there like a vegetable, with extremely high expectations.Just let go and enjoy the energy.Dont stand there marking off songs that they previously played.The gig,from where I was was just unbelievably immense,although I do agree with(not fully but to a certain extent)what she said about the DM songs.

    From where I was(In the middle of the pit),the DM songs certainly didnt get as good a reaction from the crowd as the older tunes.They seemed to drag on just a small bit.I loved them but around me people were sort of waiting for the next song if you know what I mean.But compared to the tripe of Avenged Sevenfold,they feckin rocked.

    Harvester was AMAZING!!!!!