Gelredome, Arnhem; The Netherlands; 12/06/03

Reviewed by Edwin Van Hoof

Godsmack might be shooting stars in the USA, but on European soil they are hardly known yet. The opening slot on the European leg of the Metallica tour is therefore a momentum to seize, and the band proves to be on the winning hand this night. 
Opening with the marvelous and driving "Alive," they will prove their excellent live qualities, and the massive crowd is soon jumping along to their driving set of classics like (Grammy-nominated) "Straight Out of Line," a mega heavy performance of "I Stand Alone," and "Whatever." Although they are 'only' supporting today's biggest metal band, it is astonishing to see the stage setting, packed with lasers, large projection screens and two rotating drumkits. The duel on drums between Larkin and vocalist Erna (formerly drumming in Stripmind himself) is marvelous and inspiring. "Bad Religion" wraps it all up in an energetic and thrilling way! This is the way to open for Metallica and present yourself, but it is the driven performance that really makes new friends. 

Everything has been said that can be said about the latest Metallica release, "St. Anger," but the fact is that the fans really don't care, proven by the large turn out of well over 32.500 raging fans on this night. Yes, Metallica is back and Europe is celebrating. 

Kicking off with the intro of "Ecstasy of Gold" from "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" soundtrack, the band bursts into "Battery" full shred. The sound is extremely heavy and loud, every once in a while even too much to bear. But Hetfield and his men leave no room to argue and the set list is packed with classic metal all over. Only "Frantic," the disappointing and weak new single "Unnamed Feeling" and the title track are delivered from "St. Anger." "Frantic" sounds more energetic live and a whole lot heavier than the terrible studio version, as does "St. Anger." The crowd doesn't seem to care at all and is going insane from the very front row all the way to the back of the large soccer-arena. "Fuel," "Seek and Destroy," "Fade to Black," "Creeping Death" and "The Thing that Should Not Be" are being sung along to word by word. With "Sad But True" the roof virtually blows off. When the intro tape and numerous onstage explosives and pyros announce their Dutch hit single "One," Gelredome turns into a madhouse for over ten minutes.

When the band leaves the stage after "Blackened," the crowd goes wild and is not willing to cope with the early departure of their heroes. It is Kirk who returns with Lars for a funny second, swapping their instruments and throwing a smile into the audience. But please, don't overdo it! No less than seven encores will follow including their biggest classics "Master of Puppets" (Raging!, thanks to the immaculate ending), "Harvester of Sorrow," and the slow and highly anticipated "Nothing Else Matters." The fury however is unleashed in the very end of the show with the loud and roaring version of "Enter Sandman" and the speed metal classics "So What?!" and "Whiplash." The unleashed 'newbie' Trujillo really turns into a madman and the crowd is anticipating and moshing front to back. 

True, I have seen the band more inspiring and tighter, but the atmosphere and the enthusiasm really heated it up so much tonight that the little mistakes are forgiven. Might have been a case of jetlag, for as far as I'm concerned. Leaving under loud and ongoing applause, they announce their return for a summer tour, sending out the best warning to all: BE THERE!

Seek and Destroy
Fade to black
The thing that should not be
Creeping death
Unnamed felling
Sad but true

Harvester of sorrow
Nothing else matters
Master of puppets
St. Anger
Enter Sandman
So What?!

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.