Metallica begin Glastonbury headline set with bear-hunting parody video

The US metal band topped the bill on the Pyramid Stage

Metallica made their debut Glastonbury performance by referencing the bear-hunting controversy which marred the band’s preparation for the headline performance.

Five minutes before the California rockers’ start time, a group of people waving Metallica flags on long poles entered the stage, mirroring the flags in the crowd.

An anticipation-building 15 minutes later, a video appeared on the big screens, which crashed from a tribute to the recently deceased actor Eli Wallach to a video of a British fox hunt – a thinly veiled reference to the recent controversy over James Hetfield’s 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; James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo. 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. The monitors side of stage screening the performance dripped with fake blood and zoomed in on the tattoo on Hetfield’s hand which spells ‘RIFF’ across his knuckles. Meanwhile, a separate camera attached to Lars Ulrich’s drum kit showed close ups of his face as he played.

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

Shortly before the band played ‘Sad But True’, 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!”

Check back later for a full Metallica report.

Other headliners tonight include Jake Bugg, who tops the bill on the Other Stage, Bryan Ferry on the West Holts Stage, Mogwai on the Park Stage and MGMT on the John Peel stage.

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