Metallica praise their fans and say they are ‘truly blessed’ as they close Leeds Festival 2015

Band returned to Yorkshire festival for first time since 2008 to play Main Stage set

After a seven year absence from the festival, Metallica returned to close the final night of Leeds Festival 2015 – with a bumper two-hours plus set that saw the band thank the “Metallica family” for their loyalty.

The veteran metal band entered onstage at 8.50pm to Ennio Morricone’s western soundtrack ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’, while screens showed footage from western movie The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Frontman James Hetfield opened with a joke: “Before we start, I have an announcement,” he growled. “Someone has left the light on their limo….Wait that’s me.” Kicking off with the crowd-pleasing triptych of ‘Fuel’, ‘To Whom The Bell Tolls’ and ‘Battery’, in front of a Greek Chorus of around 50 die-hard fans situated onstage.

Heralded by purple dry ice and an extended guitar solo by lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, the band performed with unblinking sincerity. ‘King Of Nothing’ elicited raised devil fists and the bludgeoning riffs of ‘Battery’ kept up the pace. Hetfield seemed in a loquacious mood, asking two audience members “Are you twins? Which one’s happier right now?”, before launching into ‘The Memory Remains’, from 1997 album ‘ReLoad’.

NMEAndy Hughes/NME

Unlike the frisson of controversy that accompanied their appearance at Glastonbury in 2014, the band were on safe territory in Leeds and made the most of the crowd’s considerable goodwill, playing mammouth-sized versions of tracks covering the breadth of their 34-year career:

“Has it been a good weekend?,” asked Hetfield. “What are some of your favourites? Metalllica? Me too. But they’re a bit heavy. Do you like it heavy? Do you want Metallica heavy?” Judging by the reaction that met the pummelling ‘Sad But True’, the question was rhetorical. Images of soldiers marching to their inevitable doom accompanied their sombre 1998 anti-war song ‘One’, before the main set hurtled to the end with ‘Master Of Puppets’, where Hammett forced his axe into the hands of a fan onstage, helping him to play, ‘Fade To Black’ and ‘Seek And Destroy’.

For the encore, Metallica dedicated a raucous ‘Whisly In A Jar” to “a fallen soldier” – late member Cliff Burton, whose life was cut short by a bus accident in 1986. “This is going to make you bounce,” pledged Hetfield. The set ended with ‘Enter Sandman’, amid a frenzy of lasers and fireworks, with black inflatable balls are hurled into the crowd.

Balloons bearing the group’s name were released into the air but had the incorrect date of the gig printed on them (August 29).

Afterwards, the band remained onstage with Hetfield giving a heartfelt speech about how “We are truly blessed. Thank you Metallica family”

Metallica played:

‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’
‘King Nothing’
‘Ride The Lightning’
‘The Day That Never Comes’
‘The Memory Remain’
‘The Unforgiven’
‘Sad But True’
‘Turn The Page’
‘Frayed Ends Of Sanity’
‘Master Of Puppets’
‘Fade To Black’
‘Seek And Destroy’
‘Whiskey In The Jar’
‘Nothing Else Matters’
‘Enter Sandman’