Metallica follow up Glastonbury performance with headline slot at Sonisphere
James Hetfield and co played a 'By Request' setlist voted by fans at the Knebworth event
The Californian metallers, who headlined Glastonbury last month, had thrown open their setlist to the public via an online vote. They also announced via video across the Sonisphere site on Sunday afternoon that they had reserved one final song on the setlist for a text vote on the day.
Their performance began around 8.30pm, 15 minutes later than their expected time, with a short video explaining what By Request was, and then another film of a spoof western. When James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo arrived on stage, they kicked straight into 'Battery', the opening track from 1986's 'Master Of Puppets'. The title track from that album and 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' followed, all standards in a Metallica setlist. It was fourth track 'Ride The Lightning' from the 1984 album of the same name that provided some variation.
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Aside from that, and perhaps unreleased song 'Lords Of Summer', there were few surprises, despite being voted for by fans. The band had played more obscure songs when they'd done a similar 'By Request' show in Germany, but it was largely business as usual at Sonisphere.
Hetfield, did, however, invite two fans – or "Family Members", as he referred to them – watching in a group at the side of the stage, to introduce two songs, 'Sad But True' and 'Blackened', and took time to joke with both fans. The fan that introduced the latter, Greg, was immediately booed by the crowd for milking his walk onto the stage.
"Why are you booing your family?" asked Hetfield, before turning to the fan and pulling off his sunglasses. "Is it too bright up here?" he said. "Take them off. They need to look into your eyes to know you're legit."
Hetfield was talkative throughout, often thanking the crowd, and promising to "turn it up a notch" before 'For Whom The Bell Tolls'. 'Enter Sandman' came before the encore, with 'Whiskey In The Jar' making a return to the set for the encore, followed by '…And Justice For All', which had won the on-the-day vote against 'The Four Horsemen' and 'Wherever I May Roam'. Finally, they played 'Seek & Destroy' from debut 'Kill 'Em All'. As they walked off the stage for the last time, Lars Ulrich said: "Between last weekend and this one, we always love being back on your shores and we will be back again very soon."
Earlier in the day, Alice In Chains and Mastodon performed on the main stage, while Airbourne singer Joel O'Keefe paid tribute to the late Rik Mayall, saying "I want you to put a cup or fist in the air. Thank you Rik Mayall. May he make us laugh forever."
Gallows, Bo Ningen and The Bronx performed on the festival's Bohemia Stage, the latter's set found frontman Matt Caughthran rallying against the "1 per cent" and "those rich fuckers" that don't appear to be welcome at Bronx gigs. Trash Talk almost sparked a riot in the Satellite tent with one of the wildest circle pits of the weekend. They also got members of the crowd in costume up on stage to dance, including a horror clown and a juggalo. "What the fuck are you dressed as?" asked singer Lee Spielman, before praising the UK for their support. "We lived in London for a while so England will always be our second home. We love this place."
This year marks the 40th anniversary of concerts in the grounds of Knebworth House. In a press conference, Sonisphere organiser Stuart Galbraith said he and his team were working hard to put on a festival next year after two cancelled events in 2012 and 2013.
"We've thought about next year a great deal," he said. "We've been working hard on it already. I made the mistake of two or three years ago of sitting here and telling people who we were thinking about. I'm not going to make that mistake again. We're working hard on it and we'll hopefully be making announcements as soon as we can."
'Master Of Puppets'
'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)'
'Ride The Lightning'
'Lords Of Summer'
'Sad But True'
'Fade To Black'
'For Whom The Bell Tolls'
'Nothing Else Matters'
'Whiskey In The Jar'
'…And Justice For All'
'Seek & Destroy'