I’ve never seen an event with so many fans wearing black shirts as when Metallica performed in Singapore last August 24, 2013. Forty thousand fans filled the Changi Exhibition Center, the newest and largest concert venue in Singapore.
A few days earlier the band played in Kuala Lumpur. A few hardcore fans from KL still showed up in Singapore for their second fix of the band. The whole of Southeast Asia had waited 20 years for the guys to show up and fans weren’t just going to miss their chance, they were going to milk it for all they’ve got.
The band, who flew in from KL on the day of the concert, went straight to the pre-concert press conference.
Seeing them in normal clothes was a surprise. I was so used to the dark image they they presented all these years. That afternoon, singer James Hetfield wore a normal white shirt, long shorts and sneakers; guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo were in surfwear since they said they had just come from a recent surfing stint in Bali. All of them had wide grins, their disposition light.
Drummer Lars Ulrich threw easy jokes. “The band is divided into two groups: there’s the old and 50 club,” he said, pointing to Hammett and Hetfield, “and there’s the young and full of spunk,” which he implied included himself and Trujillo.
You could feel the nervousness in the room when the band walked in. After all, this was the biggest metal band in the world. But Metallica’s warmth quickly put everyone at ease and the band made the effort to entertain and accommodate everyone’s questions.
Half-Pinoy Hammett gets Greyhoundz shirt
To aspiring bands, James Hetfield advised: “Be honest with yourself, be honest with your music. Write music that YOU like, as simple as that. And if you show honesty then the people will come, and then it’s easier to be yourself.”
When the press con ended, I squeezed my way to the group and handed a shirt to half-Filipino guitarist Kirk Hammett. I told him I was from the Philippines and he replied with a surprised, “Oh!” I said that one of the biggest Filipino metal bands, Greyhoundz, wanted him to have it.
I don’t know if he heard what I said in between the bouncers trying to pull me away from him. But, as long as he heard the word “Philippines,” I was fine with that!
Hammett was kind enough to say, “Well thank you so much,” as he was whisked awy by the security.
If Metallica wasn’t enough of an act, one of the evening’s surprises was the opening act: legendary Canadian band Anvil who is the subject of the excellent documentary “The Story of Anvil.”
The main act began with a video, with the licks of “Unforgiven” as the background music. It was the closest thing to live because they didn’t play it that night.
But their 2-hour set was loaded with most of their classics and the audience sang along to the tunes when Hetfield asked the crowd to help him remember some of the lyrics.
‘You only waited 20 years’
It was a delight to hear “Master of Puppets,” “Enter Sandman,” “Memory Remains,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Nothing Else Matters” and “Creeping Death.”
Hetfield teased the crowd before the last two songs that he wasn’t going to play any more songs and waved goodbye, with audiences roaring whenever he’d pretend to put on his guitar again and would take it out and would try it on repeatedly to his and the crowd’s amusement.
He then played “Battery” saying, “Well you only waited 20 years…,” as large, black Metallica balloons bounced over the thousands who were jumping up and down to reach them.
Lightning strikes twice
The show ended with “Seek and Destroy” as the band said they should be leaving room for some more songs for when they come back to Singapore.
They waved goodbye as they held the Singaporean flag on stage and gave away Metallica official picks and drumsticks to the delight of those who waited in line early enough to get to the front row.
We thought that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but for this event fans were able to “Ride the Lightning” again.
Thanks to LAMC Productions, Rockstar Touring, Universal Music Singapore, Yahoo Singapore and MCA Universal Philippines.