Metallica return to roots at biggest Soundwave ever

It was already Australia’s biggest showcase of the heaviest music genres, but in 2013 Soundwave was taken to another level.

The previous event area at Sydney’s Olympic Park was large – incorporating the same stages used by the Big Day Out – but this year the ­borders swelled to include ANZ Stadium. 

Despite an attendance of more than 70,000 people, Soundwave was an unexpectedly comfortable experience.

While younger fans were compelled to expose their health to the violent crush of the moshpits, older metal and punk fans could take a seat in one of the large grandstands – a cold beer in hand – and simply take in the spectacle.

And a spectacle it was.

Thrash metal legends Anthrax and Mike Patton’s experimental metal group Tomahawk drew early crowds to ANZ.

In the other main arena, Celtic punk rockers Flogging Molly performed in acoustic mode after the truck carrying their equipment was hampered by the mayhem of Queensland’s floods.

In fact the natural disaster wreaked havoc with the timetable, as the equipment for many bands arrived late from Brisbane's Soundwave due to blocked roads.

Electro-rockers Garbage were forced to cancel altogether.

Pop-punk group Sum 41 closed with their hit Fat Lip and legendary Californian hip-hop group Cypress Hill had a massive crowd leaping into the air with classics like How I Could Just Kill A Man.

Blink 182, minus their famous drummer Travis Barker, played a hit-laden set that had the crowd screaming every word.

Songs like Josie, What’s My Age Again?, I Miss You, Dammit and All The Small Things met a rapturous reception.

It was a treat to see Kyuss Lives!, a partial version of the influential stoner rock band Kyuss.

John Garcia’s vocals were an overpowering wail and Brant Bjork’s drumming was primal and thunderous.

Stoner Sour, the side project of Slipknot singer Corey Taylor, played crowd favourites like Made of Scars and previewed some new tracks from the soon-to-be-released second part of their House of Gold & Bones album. 

Punk legends The Offspring jam-packed their set with classics – Come Out and Play, Americana, Pretty Fly (For A White Guy), All I Want, Gone Away and the big closer, Self Esteem.

A Pefect Circle, led by Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan, crafted rises and falls of shifting rhythmic ­dynamics.

Their songs rolled with brooding beauty between occasional explosions of simmering power and included their sorrowful rendition of John Lennon's Imagine.

A Perfect Circle required more concentration than other bands of the day, and they rewarded those who did.

Linkin Park played their heavier material, with Chester Bennington’s manic mix of screams and soaring high notes stealing the show from ­fellow vocalist Mike Shinoda.

When Bennington is in full flight, you feel inclined to wrap him in a straight jacket.

Admirably, the singer stopped mid-song when he spotted an injured fan in the mostpit.

Linkin Park calmly waited until ambulance officers were able to get the man over the barricade and on to a stretcher.

Metallica, who were undoubtedly the main drawcard of the day, made their fans wait half an hour past the allotted set time.

But when drummer Lars Ulrich eventually appeared and unleashed a heavy beat on his drumkit, the ­frustration of their lateness instantly disappeared.

The iconic four-piece demonstrated why they’re one of the biggest bands in music history, effortless gripping the mass of onlookers in the palm of their hand.

Metallica made a big statement when they opened with Hit The Lights, the first song on their 1983 debut record Kill ’Em All.

This was going to be an old-school Metallica gig.

They then launched into a string of older material – Holier Than Thou, Harvester of Sorrow, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Ride the Lightning, One, For Whom The Bell Tolls and Blackened.

From their self-titled record they performed Sad But True, Enter Sandman and Nothing Else Matters

Guitarist Kirk Hammett’s face-melting guitar solos were scintillating and awe-inspiring, and Ulrich maintained a wickedly gleeful expression that indicated his continued love of the music.

The show also marked the 10th anniversary of bassist Robert Trujillo’s joining of the group.

Metallica’s two-hour set finished with an encore of Creeping Death, Fight Fire with Fire and Seek & Destroy.

To the endless metal bands at Soundwave, who perhaps aspire to the enduring greatness of Metallica, it must have been humbling to see these four guys easily lay waste to an expansive horde of music lovers.

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