A motherload of Metallica in Helsinki 7.-9.6.2024

Author Ossi Kumpula - 12.6.2024

Metallica, arguably the greatest metal act operating to this day, released their eleventh studio album “72 seasons” in April of last year. Since then, the band has toured the world with the concept of playing on two seperate days in each city they visit, with completely different setlists on each day. Last weekend it was Finland’s turn to experience this extravaganza in the nation’s capital.  Besides the two concerts at the Helsinki Olympic stadium, the Metallica takeover weekend included a film festival as well as cover sets by Apocalyptica and a Finnish Metallica tribute band.

The two stadium shows by Metallica took place on 7th and 9th of June, and I had the exciting opportunity to attend the latter gig. In the wake of Friday’s concert, the yellow press in Finland had screamed their heads off about excessive lines and food shortages in the stadium. Arriving at quarter to 6 p.m, I got into the stadium virtually with minimum time spent in the queue and even less to the loo. Thus I was comfortably in my seat and ready for the evening’s festivities by the time Ice Nine Kills began their set at six p.m.

Despite a very show set of seven songs, Ice Nine Kills made the most of what they were given and put on quite an energetic show. The theatrical horror elements the band is known for were on full display, and the musicians were intent on performing for everyone present by rushing to and fro the circular stage. Already at this point I witnessed a few tentative moshpit attempts, and some of the band’s catchiest tunes sounded right at home in a stadium setting. Ice Nine Kills showed up for a challenging gig with the right attitude, and they evidently earned the audience’s sympathy.

Hot on the heels of Ice Nine Kills, another American heavyweight by the name of Five Finger Death Punch began their set after a short change of gears. My prior knowledge of the band was quite limited, so I got to experience Five Finger Death Punch without many expectations. By this time the Olympic stadium had filled out considerably, and the amount of 5FDP-merch I saw people wear around the venue was also impressive. It didn’t take long to figure out why the band commands such devotion, for the group, lead by vocalist Ivan Moody, delivered their alternative metal fares with captivating intensity. Special props must be handed to Ivan Moody, who raced ’round the stage to make sure no part of the crowd was neglected. At one point he even shot some footage from the stage with a smartphone given to him by a fan, ensuring some very unique concert memories for that one fellow. Musically Five Finger Death Punch failed to impress me, but there’s no denying the commanding force of the band’s live energy.

After Five Finger Death Punch it was close to 75 minutes before the main act took to the stage. The time was spent ruminating on the reasons for the very short set lengths for the supporting acts, for Metallica was absolutely in no hurry to begin their show. Indeed, they missed their scheduled start time of 20:30 by fifteen minutes. Finally the timeless intro “Ecstasy of Gold” filled the stadium, and the band marched forth like gladiators in front of the roaring mass of people some 50 000 strong. The concert’s opening was stronger than I had anticipated, for the first tunes to ignite the atmosphere were “Whiplash“, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Ride the Lightning“. Surprised exclamations rang through the stadium as the opening notes of “Until it Sleeps” pierced the air.

In contrast to the supporting bands, Metallica played the first part of their set clustered in one area of the stage instead of moving around. I wondered at this for a while until, after the first four songs, the band switched to another corner of the stage. This was to be the theme of the evening: the band moving from one corner to the next after a few songs. The idea was interesting and provided each section of the crowd about equal amount of attention, but the intervals were a bit cumbersome and ate up a lot of time from the gig. Interestingly, Lars Ulrich’s drum set didn’t move, but instead he had four separate drum kits in each corner of the stage waiting for him.  

After an extremely promising start, the gig fell into a bit of a slump with back to back tracks from “72 Seasons” and “The Day That Never Comes“, an eight-minute meandering from 2008’s “Death Magnetic”. The concert didn’t really regain its momentum until “The Unforgiven” began the last stretch of the show, and what a stretch it was! The band treated the crowd to a banger after banger the likes of “Wherever I May Roam“, “Battery” and “One“, the latter of which contained some of the few explosives the band deigned to use during the show. Most of the pyrotechnics were reserved for “Moth Into Flame“, compensating a bit for the lackluster song. The evening concluded with “Enter Sandman” which saw the audience showered with a host of giant Metallica themed beach balls. Said balls bouncing around the sold out crowd to the tune of “Enter Sandman” certainly made for an amusing visual. 

After “Enter SandmanMetallica bid farewell to the audience in a lengthy manner, with each band member having a moment with the microphone to blabber generic goodbyes to the fifty-thousand gathered. This was perhaps the most disappointing part of the night, for Metallica could’ve easily performed one more song instead of the sweet nothings they wasted everyone’s time with. Besides fifteen of their own songs, guitarist Kirk Hammet and bassist Robert Trujillo made a short performance out of Pelle Miljoona’s “Olen kaunis“, which was an interesting enough curiosity to break the mold of metal mayhem that is Metallica. The circular stage, innovative as it was, turned out to be somewhat of a net negative, as the band moving around it every few songs was quite time-consuming. The setlist could’ve been more evenly constructed as well, as the beginning and end were killer with a long filler in the middle. With that said, Metallica is always Metallica, and missing out on a chance to hear one of the greatest metal bands of all time play live their timeless classics is a losing bet, more often than not.

Pictures: Tomi Vesaharju

Metallica setlist:

For Whom the Bell Tolls
Ride the Lightning
Until It Sleeps
72 Seasons
If Darkness Had a Son
The Day That Never Comes
Shadows Follow
The Call of Ktulu
The Unforgiven
Wherever I May Roam
Moth Into Flame
Enter Sandman