Metallica bring lasers, gunfire and balloons on their return to Reading Festival

Metal veterans deliver two hour set on their return to Richfield Avenue

Metallica returned to Reading Festival on Saturday night (August 29) to deliver a two-hour headline set which featured a stage full of fans, pyrotechnics and a setlist packed with their best known songs.

Arriving onstage shortly after 9.30pm to footage from a Morricone western, James Hetfield declared “we are Metallica and this is what we do,” before launching into a ferocious ‘Fuel’ in front of screens full of flames and a huge pen where around 40 fans danced throughout.

It was the first time Metallica have performed at Reading Festival since 2008, when they played alongside Rage Against The Machine and The Killers.


“Metallica is with you, are you with us?” the frontman asked as they ploughed into ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’, setting a formidable pace maintained by the frenzied ‘Battery’. “Reading, are you alive? Tell me how does it feel to be alive?” Hetfield bawled in a break midway through the song.

The set continued relentlessly until the multi-section ‘Ride The Lightning’, which fed into a Hammett solo before downbeat epic ‘The Day That Never Comes’. “I’ve been hearing you sing all day long,” Hetfield said before ‘The Memory Remains’, “are you losing your voices already?”

The two-hour show swerved into country rock territory with ‘The Unforgiven’ and ‘Turn The Page’ before a sitar interlude gave way to the ponderous ‘Wherever I May Roam’. The band then left the stage as lasers, gunfire sound effects and footage of soldiers in silhouette gave way to anti-war anthem ‘One’ from 1988’s ‘…And Justice For All’. The main set closed with ‘Master Of Puppets’, complete with an extended Hammett solo, ‘Fade To Black’ and a lively ‘Seek And Destroy’, before which Hetfield said, “If you don’t know this song then you’re gonna learn it right now because there’s plenty of Metallica family here to teach you”.

“Are you still here?” the singer asked as they returned for a crowd-pleasing encore, dedicating their cover of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ to late member Cliff Burton and leading into their biggest tracks ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and ‘Enter Sandman’, accompanied by fireworks and the release of black balloons across the site.

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
Wherever I May Roam
Master Of Puppets
Fade To Black
Seek And Destroy
Whiskey In The Jar
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman


Saturday night was headlined by Mumford & Sons in Leeds Festival.