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Nya Ullevi; Gothenburg, 22 August 2015

I am not that interested in heavy rock, no matter if it's back or blue, dark or lighter shades of grey. My heavy period pretty much ended around 1977, incidentally at the same time as the puberty period came to an end, after several tormented years, it seemed. My girlfriend is more inclined to that sort of excesses and when she and her niece wanted to go to yet one more Metallica concert, I eventually decided to come along, for my first time. I had never been more than half an hour around the streets of Gothenburg earlier, so that might be a reason in itself to give it a go. We arrived in the city centre in the afternoon. Nice, warm and sunny and lots and lots of young and not so young suspicious individuals with black t-shirts with names and symbols of heavy bands, tattoos and alarmingly many with long grey hair... And music by Metallica could be heard from restaurants, bars, even in the lobby of the straight suburban hotel where we stayed the night. This was surely a happening that dominated the entire town.

Metallica After a meal and a few beers we entered the huge sports arena Nya Ullevi. We had tickets for the grandstand, it turned out to be seats high above the pitch and some 250 meters from the stage, I guess. Not the perfect position, but we could sit down, the sun was shining and even the Swedish folköl (common beer for the common Swedish people with less alcohol than ordinary lager beer) didn't taste too bad. The Swedish support act Meshuggah came on soon after we had arrived. They were hard and heavy and sounded like shit as is the rule with support acts at big arena gigs. Always an ungrateful job. But the guys were very satisfied and proud to be there. After they left, the sun went down and we had to wait and wait and... Quite a few white clad young choir boys, I thought at first, entered the stage and just stood there, occasionally clapping hands to warm up the congregation. They turned out to be a bit older. Die-hard fans that made up the choir of the evening, I suspect, but they were hardly audible to us, it turned out. And nothing really happened for a long time...

Finally, around nine thirty the video screens at each side of the stage were turned on and we got a short excerpt from The Good The Bad And The Ugly, the Sergio Leone film from 1966 starring Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef with the characteristic music by Ennio Morricone. A highlight of the evening if you ask me, while our men entered the stage. We could hardly see them in the distance, the video screens helped a bit, but they were not big compared to the arena. The band fuelled up with "Fuel" and the tough ones got going. I'm no expert, far from it, but think they only played one song from the present millennium ("The Day That Never Comes"), the rest of the set-list was equally divided by songs from the 1980s and 1990s. I noticed "Battery", not my favourite, "The Unforgiven", a few from the Master Of Puppets album including the title track. And the fans had learned their home-work and sang along, especially on the latter. But the sound was pretty poor, at least where we sat, and I don't think the playing was as precise as it ought to be with this kind of music. It seemed to be just another day at work for Hetfield & co. To be honest, it was pretty boring mid-way, and some of the people around me muttered something about me falling asleep... "Sad But True" was a highlight, though, and it turned a bit better towards the end. "Seek And Destroy" was the last one before the encore. Fair enough, though I prefer Iggy & The Stooge's "Search And Destroy". Then back with a muddled "Whiskey In The Jar" (well, I prefer the versions by The Dubliners and Thin Lizzy), I think this was the one with a little "In The Hall Of The Mountain King"-interlude (they had played in Bergen two days prior, that used to be the home town of its composer Edvard Grieg), "Nothing Else Matters" and "Enter Sandman". All right, give the people what they want! Even if the concert lasted less than two hours in all.

I don't think I will be one of those in the front row by the stage next time Metallica comes to town. But it was quite fascinating to watch the hordes - around 66 000 all together - waving their arms in the air in time with Lars Ulrich's beats from a bird's perspective. And all those young and not so young suspicious individuals present turned as peaceful again when the show was over as they had been early in the afternoon.

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