Metallica bring flag-waving battalion of fans to represent ‘heavy music’ in Glastonbury debut

Band released black beachballs into crowd at climax of headline set

Metallica declared war on Glastonbury festival tonight (June 29), lining the Pyramid Stage with a small battalion of fans waving Metallica flags and T-shirts reading ‘Peace, Love & Metal’. It was a set in which frontman James Hetfield told the crowd “We’re very proud to be here and represent the heavier side of music.”

Though the crowd was sparser than for Arcade Fire the previous night, the band nevertheless proved a big draw. The booking has caused much debate among the band’s peers and Glastonbury-goers, and Metallica referenced some of the controversy, both in the merchandise sold on site, which quoted comments on their booking from Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and Jarvis Cocker, and in a Julien Temple-directed video screened before their arrival – watch the film below.

PHOTOS: Metallica’s headline slot at Glastonbury 2014

An anticipation-building 15 minutes after the band’s printed stage time, a clip appeared on the big screens which switched from a spaghetti western scene starring the actor Eli Wallach, who died on June 24, to a retro-looking film of a British fox hunt – a reference to the recent controversy over James Hetfield narrating a documentary about bear hunting, which led to a petition to have the band removed from the Glastonbury bill. A mash-up of ‘What Does The Fox Say’ and ‘Fox On The Run’ by the Sweet played as, in the clip, four bears wielding rifles shot the hunters, to huge cheers from the crowd. The bear masks were removed to reveal the four members of Metallica. The screen then displayed a message: “Are you ready for Glastallica?’, and the band appeared onstage, launching straight into ‘Creeping Death’. Frontman James Hetfield dropped ‘Glasto’ into the lyrics and asked the crowd to sing along. “I want you singing – I need your help,” he said.

‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ followed, then ‘Wherever I May Roam’ which saw bassist Robert Trujillo, wearing a Metallica vest, prowling the far reaches of the stage.

After, Hetfield addressed the crowd properly: “Metallica is grateful to be invited to such an event called Glastonbury,” he said. “We’re very proud to be here and represent the heavier side of music. I know it’s all represented here so why not heavy? This is dedicated not only to the crowd but to all the British heavy metal bands that have been dreaming and still dream of playing this stage here and uttering the words, Do you want heavy? Do you want heavy? Metallica gives you heavy!”

BLOG: Metallica totally just had the last laugh at Glastonbury

‘Sad But True’ followed, then ‘Fade To Black’, which ended in a climactic solo. Hetfield then asked questions of the crowd, revealing a side of himself that’s in tune with Glastonbury’s hippy aesthetic. He asked the audience to “raise your hand if you want this earth to be a better place,” then asked if they lived by a code of “honesty and integrity to your own morals”. He asked if they wish to be “accepted by your brothers and sisters as you are right now” and finally, “if music moves your soul.” ‘Cyanide’, from ‘Death Magnetic’ followed, with its lyrics including the line, “It’s peace at last.

“It’s going to get louder,” warned Hetfield before a pounding ‘The Memory Remains’, again asking the crowd to sing along. They duly obliged at the climax, when the band exited the stage.

They returned flanked by animations of World War One soldiers and played big-hitters ‘One’ and ‘Master Of Puppets’, which saw epic guitar solos from Kirk Hammett and visuals recalling the sleeve of the well-received 1986 album on the screen. ‘Nothing Else Matters’, which began with Hammett playing solo, continued the run of fan-favourite songs, and a rapturously received ‘Enter Sandman’ closed the main set.

Returning for the encore, Hetfield told the crowd: “Well, looks like we gotta do more. Do you like this stuff? Guess I’m not the only one…” They then played their cover of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’. Hetfield introduced the final track – ‘Seek And Destroy’ – by telling the crowd, “If you’re a fan or not a fan, it’s a song you can get into.” As they played the track, from their 1983 album ‘Kill ‘Em All’, dozens of black beach balls bearing the Metallica logo were released into the crowd as Trujillo spun around with his bass.

Taking their bows at the end, drummer Lars Ulrich told the crowd: “I came down here last night and I’ve walked every corner of this festival, and let me tell you, there is no place like this on this fucking earth. Thank you Michael, thank you Emily, thank you Nick. Metallica loves you and we hope to see you another fucking time!”

Metallica played:

Creeping Death
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Wherever I May Roam
Sad But True
Fade To Black
The Unforgiven
The Memory Remains
Master Of Puppets
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Whiskey In The Jar
Seek And Destroy