Barely a festival season goes by where MetallicA don’t pop up and perform in this country, so it was quite nice when after they played “The Black Album” in its entirety at Download 2012 they fucked off for a while, personally (and I say this as a huge fan) I would have preferred another summer off just to really have a chance to miss them, but they at least attempted to do something different with this performance.

For those not in the know, “MetallicA By Request” enabled ticket holders to input a code onto a website that enabled you to vote for 16 songs, then the most popular tracks would make up the set for that particular show, which is pretty much the greatest idea any band has come up with ever.

Until we saw the results…

You would think that having played over here so often, pretty much everyone had seen them by now, probably more than once and not only that but would acknowledge what a great opportunity this was to have the four horsemen play some of those lesser played album tracks and instrumentals. Alas, this was not to be and amid loud accusations of the band fixing the results we received pretty much the same set as we get every summer, with the addition of a cover of ‘Whiskey in the Jar’. A song which I am pretty sure the entire metal community bitched about them covering on 1998’s Garage Inc.

That isn’t to say though that the metal titans didn’t play well, giving the previous night’s headliners Iron Maiden a run for their money and opening with an almighty triumvirate of ‘Battery’, ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘Ride The Lightning’, it’s just a shame that was then followed with ‘The Unforgiven’, but hey, someone must have voted for it, right?

The random reintroduction of the Snakepit (a section of stage jutting out into the crowd for the band to walk along, with a big hole in the middle of it for a select few fans to get really close) was great for anyone that was able to get in it or didn’t get to catch it being used at the aforementioned Download performance, but was new was the addition of several fans into the show. Not one, but TWO fans got to introduce songs (‘Sad But True’ and ‘Blackened’), although I am at a complete loss as to why or how this happened and then the band stole their own Glastonbury idea and organised some kind of army of MetallicA Warriors armed with flags to stand on stage during ‘Creeping Death’.

Just as it was beginning to get a little too pretentious the banter took hold with James Hetfield saying “I need a pick, can someone throw one back?”, to which Lars Ulrich responded by offering him a drumstick.

The one song in the set that was dividing opinion between those who hadn’t heard it and those who just didn’t like it was new track ‘Lords of Summer’, but by Christ did that shred Knebworths’ collective faces off. Whilst the lyrics may not be Hetfield’s finest hour, the music is a mix of groove and thrash showing the band have definitely got the bluesy alt-rock out of their system and whether or not this is on the next album it is doubtful to disappoint.

As the set began to wind down with the predictable ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and ‘Enter Sandman’ the crowd began to get very excited as the “Vote of the Day” (a choice of 3 songs that periodically showed on the screens through the day that you could text and vote for) had an outright winner of ‘…And Justice for All’, which was played flawlessly.

As the bouncing balls and house lights that signalled final song ‘Seek & Destroy’ revealed themselves, there was no doubt that whilst that was set that could have been so much more, it was still pretty bloody good and despite the naysayers the sheer number of fists, voices and sore necks evident throughout are testament to the bands popularity and relevance today.

Metallica – Facebook page

Sonisphere – Official Website