Metallica live in Amsterdam: still the greatest heavy metal band around

Kicking off their ambitious ‘M72’ world tour, the four-piece celebrate the communal power of their music

“EVERYONE is welcome in the Metallica Family. Whether you’ve been a fan for 40 hours or 40 years, we all share a bond through music.”

That’s the statement the metal titans issued last summer, shortly after that guitar-wailing scene towards the end of Stranger Things season four. As well as causing a surge in streams, that epic ‘Master Of Puppets’ moment introduced a new generation to the sheer emotional power of heavy music. Between that and 2021’s eclectic, encompassing celebration of their seminal classic ‘The Black Album’, it’s little wonder that Metallica’s recent album ‘72 Seasons’ feels like a love letter to the genre, as well as the community it’s still inspiring.

Continuing that all-in family vibe, Metallica’s ‘M72’ world tour is more a travelling heavy metal circus than your typical stadium run. As well as playing two unique live sets across two nights in every city on the tour, the band have also organised pop-up shops, book signings, meet-ups and side-gigs to really complete their takeover.

Tonight (April 27) that global, two-year tour kicks off at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruijff ArenA, with Metallica at the very heart of the action. The band play on a giant ring in the middle of the stadium, meaning they are surrounded by fans on all sides for the duration of the two-hour show while Lars Ulrich’s drum kit manages to pop up in four different locations, revolving on the spot after every track. It’s a set-up designed to maximise crowd interaction and makes the gig feel surprisingly cosy, despite taking place in a 71,000-capacity stadium.


That sense of intimacy starts before the show even begins, with a video montage of fan photos being displayed on the seven gigantic video towers that circle the pit as AC/DC’s ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)’ provides the first of tonight’s many scream-a-longs. Metallica then walk through the crowd to take to the stage before diving straight into a pair of fan-favourite tracks: ‘Orion’ and ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’. James Hetfield’s grin couldn’t be wider as he launches into the first blistering solo, while Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo manage to create a two-person circle pit on the opposite side of the stage. If there are any first-night nerves, the band aren’t showing it.

“I’m glad you all came here to celebrate heavy music with your friends in Metallica,” Hetfield says before a shuddering ‘King Nothing’. “Because we are Metallica, and so are you.”

Metallica performing at Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam 27/4/23 (Picture: Ross Halfin)

The decision to deliver two unique sets across each double-header on the tour gives Metallica space tonight to delve into their extensive back catalogue and mix things up. Live staples like ‘One’ and ‘Enter Sandman’ are replaced by the rarely played ‘The Day That Never Comes’, a complete ‘Battery’ and plenty of material from the brilliant ‘72 Seasons’. Who knows what night two on Saturday (April 29) will bring?

Alongside a brutal run-through of ‘Lux Æterna’, the thundering menace of ‘Screaming Suicide’ and ‘Sleepwalk My Life Away’’s heavy funk are both given their live debuts. The “energetic and playful” spirit of ‘72 Seasons’ is perfect for joyous occasions like these. “We’re in love with this album,” admits Hetfield at one point, and, judging by the reaction from their fans, Metallica aren’t alone in feeling that.

Apart from a scorching display of flames during ‘Fuel’ and a smattering of fireworks at the end of the night, there are none of the usual stadium rock gimmicks. This entire show is instead built around the four members of Metallica, their bond with the crowd and one another. After spending the whole gig apart, the band finally come together to address the audience at the very end of the show, before giving away fistfuls of plectrums and drum sticks – a kid no older than nine years old is personally handed Hetfield’s orange bandana.

“Just about 39 years ago, Metallica rolled into the Netherlands,” says Ulrich. “Tonight, we’re back stronger and feeling better than ever, thanks to you.” Hetfield adds: “We don’t take that for granted.”

Metallica have always been a gateway band for heavy music, but there’s a renewed excitement around them now. Tonight’s surprising, ambitious and giddy gig matches that energy at every turn. Their closing crossover track ‘Master Of Puppets’ naturally goes off, but then so do all of the songs on the setlist. From the gorgeous ‘Nothing Else Matters’ through to the unifying ‘Seek & Destroy’, the majesty of heavy music is on full display throughout the gig as Metallica prove why they’re clearly still the greatest metal band around.

Metallica played:


‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’
‘Holier Than Thou’
‘King Nothing’
‘Lux Æterna’
‘Screaming Suicide’
‘Fade To Black’
‘Sleepwalk My Life Away’
‘Nothing Else Matters’
‘Sad But True’
‘The Day That Never Comes’
‘Ride The Lightning’
‘Seek & Destroy’
‘Master of Puppets’


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