LIVE: Metallica @ House of Vans, London

By Christopher Lee

On the day the thrash metal giants release their first album in almost 8 years, we were lucky enough to be part of 600 people in attendance at the most sought after show in London. Nearly 100,000 people have applied to be here tonight, enough to sell out any venue in the capital. However the band aren’t charging anyone to be here tonight, they have asked everyone attending to make a donation to the Railway Children charity, who help children who are forced to run away from desperate situations across the globe.

There’s an air of anticipation in the venue waiting for the band to come on stage, but if you’ve ever been to House of Vans before you’ll know what a lovely venue it is, with plenty to keep the masses occupied whilst they wait. There’s a display of the bands collaboration with Vans from a few years back, ‘A Hardwired… To Self-destruct’ photo booth, and some pretty cool Metallica light installations set up around the place. It’s also worth noting that tonight’s show is being streamed across the globe for those not lucky enough to be there.


Adorning the stage to a roaring crowd, there’s none of the normal fanfare you might have come to expect from a Metallica set. To the surprise of the crowd, they launch straight into ‘Breadfan’ by Budgie which the band originally covered on their 1998 album, ‘Garage, Inc’. They follow this up with a brutal rendition of ‘The Four Horseman’ before James screams at the crowd, “Are you alive? How does it feel to be alive?” in typical Hetfield manner. Next up is ‘Battery’, which is as loud and fast as ever. There’s not much movement in the venue but at the same time there’s barely room to move at all!

After a storming opening we do get a breather, though, as James explains that tonight is a “Celebration of Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’s birthday, the day it was born and what better way to celebrate than with the Metallica Family”. Up next we get ‘Sad but True’ , followed by an incredible guitar solo by birthday boy, Kirk Hammett, after which James leads the crowd through “Happy Birthday, dear Kirk” which he clearly enjoys looking at the smile plastered across his face.

There’s a slowdown in tempo as the band give us ‘The Unforgiven’ , before James tells us he “likes what we’ve done with the place, it’s a lot like our studio but completely different.” Now it’s time for the reason we’re all here. “It’s time for some new stuff,” James tells us. “Who’s got their album?” as they launch into the first of the new tracks to be played tonight ‘Atlas, Rise!’ they jump back to an old number with ‘Harvester of Sorrow’, which is sandwiched in the middle of another new track, ‘Moth Into Flame’


We then get a corker of a bass solo from Robert before they absolutely slay through four classic tracks. ‘One’, ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’, which sees another wonderful bass intro, ending with ‘Enter Sandman’, which leaves the crowd begging for more during the brief encore break. Coming back on stage, James tells the crowd that they’re “Gonna love this one,” as they begin with a cover of ‘Whiskey in The Jar’ , before powering through title track, ‘Hardwired’

This incredible night is now drawing to a close and James asks for the house lights to come up so that he can see the crowds beautiful faces. It’s been a wonderful night celebrating “The birth of Hardwired… To Self-destruct” in James’s words, and the crowd have absolutely loved it. They close out the evening in typical Metallica fashion powering through ‘Seek and Destroy’ as everyone sings along at the top of their lungs. At the end of the track,  birthday boy Kirk is attacked by the band & crew with cream pies leaving the stage covered. It will be a long time before Metallica play a venue as small as this again, and the night will last a long time in everyone’s memory. Let’s hope we see the band back in the UK very soon.