Thursday, 31 May 2012

Review: Guns N' Roses @ Manchester Arena 29/05/12


In 2006, I went to my first festival which was the Download festival. I didn't know much about festivals then and I now look back at that line-up and kick myself over the stuff I missed. The main draw of the festival for me was the chance to see Metallica for the first time. There were other bands I wanted to see but Metallica was the main draw. The other headliners for that weekend were Tool (on the Friday) and Guns N' Roses (on the Sunday). I'd never heard of Tool at this point but GnR were well known. It was well known that it was only Axl Rose left in the band of the classic line up. What wasn't known was what the performance would be like. Everyone expected Axl Rose to be late but he was actually early. The performance was not good. Axl stomped off stage a number of times and we were left with extended solos and it was just awkward. It might have been better than I remember but I have heard barely anyone say they enjoyed GnR that night. I remember seeing a GnR fan, who said before the set he had waited his whole life to see GnR live, crying and telling his friend how disappointed he was. I walked away from Download that night with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth about how the festival had ended for me. After that night, I vowed that I would not pay to see GnR again.

Fast forward 6 years later and I have gone back on my word. Since 2006, the only bad reviews I've read were of the headline sets at Reading & Leeds, and that was due to the festival organisers not buying into Axl Rose and his tardiness. There was a UK tour in 2010 and every date had really positive reviews. The 2012 tour was announced and I said to myself that if I could get a cheap train and a cheap hotel, I would go. Both of those things happened and so I bought a ticket. The reviews before Manchester have all been favourable (other than from people who have had to leave early - and while I don't agree with its acceptability, if you don't know before going it’s going to be a really late one...well where have you been?!) The gigs have all been starting at random times but they have all been finishing late. Arenas don't have to cut off a band as they have 24 hour licences but they might enforce their own curfews. Manchester Arena has on their website their curfew is 11pm. The above words have been written before the gig and I believe that they have wasted their time saying there is a curfew.

Turns out I was right (it was a safe bet) but I'll talk about GnR in a bit. I intended to arrive at the beginning of Thin Lizzy and I'd heard they were starting their sets at 8.30 and finishing at 9.45pm. That should have been a red flag to those unsure if it would be a late one. I wanted to see Thin Lizzy as I had a ticket for their headline show in Guildford earlier this month but had to leave before they played one song due to a headache. I was fairly tired when I got to Manchester and fell to sleep on the bed of the hotel. Woke up at 8.30 and was like "oh shi...!" Long story boring, I rushed to get ready and bombed to the venue. I arrived as Thin Lizzy was in the middle of playing Whiskey in the Jar. I didn't get to see their whole set (WitJ was probably 1/3rd of the way through) but what I saw I really enjoyed. The set closed with The Boys Are Back in Town", which got a huge reaction. I wondered if they would be good live, especially as there aren't many original members of the band left (probably most notably the lead singer), but they really were. That annoyed me slightly due to having to leave early at Guildford, but at least I saw them.

As the house lights went up, I observed that the gig had not sold out. It was probably as busy, if not slightly quieter, than Alter Bridge who played there last November. The whole upper tier wasn't open and there was enough standing area towards the back to walk around comfortably. There is of course a good chance that people, who knew of the lateness, decided not to come in until later so they weren't waiting as long (and not paying arena prices for drinks etc). It is worth noting as well that there were more than enough people to justify this gig being at the MCR arena as opposed to a smaller venue. Thin Lizzy went off stage at 10pm and the crew have the stage sorted by 10.30pm, ready for GnR's arrival. I tweeted at this point that I predicted a 11.15pm start (although I hoped for an earlier start). I wondered about a bit (including doing vital festival prep by spending £2 on a bottle of water). At 11.10pm, I was in the middle of tweeting something about being wrong about the start time when the house lights just dropped and the Massive Attack song Splitting the Atom started. 



The stage show was fairly cool, with 5 different video screens and raised platforms. 4 of the screens started showing artwork relating to the latest album and the middle screen showed a rotating GnR logo. Behind the drummer popped out of one of the guitarists and took over from the intro tape and the set kicked off with Chinese Democracy. From the off, it was clear the band were in top form and Axl Rose sounded immense. During the song, Rose disappeared off stage and I honestly wondered what had happened. I didn't see anything going wrong. However, he was back as soon as it was time to sing again so then it occurred to me him leaving was not walking off annoyed, but more like how James LaBrie does during long Dream Theater solos. There was pyro and fireworks used (which made appearances at different points throughout the show). The next song was Welcome To The Jungle and the crowd exploded. It was outstanding. There wasn't much in the way of crowd interaction at this point but the performances of the songs were superb. The next songs were It's So Easy, Mr Brownstone, Sorry, Rocket Queen, Estranged and Better. It became apparent during this run of songs that this gig was going to be beyond great. I have absolutely no negative comments to make at this point, which is the complete reverse of where I was at in 2006 watching them. After Better, it was time for the first guitar solo from Richard Fortus. I used this as an excuse to visit the facilities. Now I have a negative comment, Manchester Arena. Your toilets are vile. There is one set of toilets accessible to the standing area, and they were beyond nasty. There's no excuse for that. 3 cubicles and one was flooded and one had a missing door. Just, urgh!

I came back to the standing area just as the solo was ending and Live and Let Die started. This was excellent as was This I Love. Axl then introduced his bassist, Tommy Stinson, and the band played one of his songs with him on vocals. This happened later on in the set but with a Bumblefoot song (with him on vocals). The set was broken up now with a few solos and jams, which I didn't really care for (although Another Brick In The Wall was cool). In-between the solos we got Street of Dreams, You Could Be Mine (which was the only song Axl really made an error on) and Sweet Child of Mine (which was superb). A grand piano emerged and Axl did a piano solo/jam before kicking into November Rain, arguably my favourite GnR song. I was anxious to hear how good or not this would be, as this was one of my main disappointments at Download 2006. It was absolutely superb. The lights went up at the end of this song and wow, a lot of people had left. I can't claim to be surprised now in the cold light of day, but at the time I really was. 



Following November Rain, we got Don't Cry and Civil War before Axl said "the band want to play this song". Expecting to get Knocking on Heaven's Door, we got Shackler's Revenge. This for me was a very good surprise as that is my 2nd favourite song from the Chinese Democracy album. We then got Knocking on Heaven's Door and Nightrain and the main set finished. There was another exodus of people at this point. The encore break didn't last long and the band were back, doing another instrumental jam before Axl came back out and the band kicked into Madagascar and a cover of AC/DC's Whole Lotta Rosie. This was outstanding. There were another couple of jams at this point which again, I could have done without. In-between the jams, we got Patience and to close out the set, we had Paradise City. During the closer, there was a ton of pyro, fireworks and streamers which was really cool. At 2.10am, Frank Sinatra's My Way was playing over the PA and the band said goodbye. 


Download 2006 has not been wiped from my memory as it was my first festival and Guns N' Roses were not good. Last night however, GnR were superb. I am so glad that they were as good as they were. I really like GnR and I hated the fact the only things I could say about the one time that I’d seen them live were bad. I can now turn around to people and say that GnR are well worth your money and time, which they are. I've seen people ask why fans still support Axl Rose and buy into his self-perceived idea of how a "rock star" should behave. I was one of those people. Now I get it. Last night’s show was outstanding. Axl Rose was near 100% in terms of his voice and how good he sounded which was a main concern of mine. Within 2 songs that concern was gone.  I think I mentioned it earlier but there was only one song where I thought his vocals didn’t hold up, and that was during the quick part of You Could Be Mine. One small part of one song from a 3 hour set – oh well. I am now really looking forward to their headline set at Hellfest. All in, it was a superb gig. I still don't like the need for the extended solos (I've no problem with the band members solo songs with them on vocals). I also still don't think starting a gig at 11.10pm is a good thing. I really enjoyed the gig and would pay to go see them again (but again, the clouds would have to align in order for me to be able to do it). I felt like I was gambling on seeing GnR after Download 2006, and I now feel like that gamble paid off. Now, I know that seeing them at their own show is a safe bet for a great night/early morning.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Download Guesswork



It is now just over a week until festival season kicks off. I find myself feeling varying levels of excitement and nerves. I feel them every year but this year it is more noticeable. I guess it is because I am doing a new foreign festival by myself this year. I’m sure I’ll be fine, but you never know! Anyway, first up on the festival calendar is Download and I have nerves about this festival because it is the first time going for the weekend since 2007. The festival has changed a lot since then. I am sure I will be fine but because it is essentially a new experience, it is causing me some concern. Doing Wacken in the past has spoiled me as I want running times up earlier than a week before the festival, accepting that they could change at any point. I find myself getting impatient, which is exactly why I am writing this blog. I’m not attacking the festival or its organisers at all; this is just to satisfy my own impatience. This is my latest guess at stage times for Download 2012. These are somewhat based around the times for 2011 with some changes where changes have needed to be made. I have no idea if these are right, but whatever. Kept me entertained for a few hours!

Friday 8th June

Main Stage
21.00 – 22.50 The Prodigy
19.25 – 20.25 Chase and Status
18.00 – 18.50 Machine Head
16.50 – 17.35 Billy Talent
15.40 – 16.25 NoFX
14.40 – 15.15 Fear Factory
13.50 – 14.20 Cancer Bats
13.00 – 13.30 Rise To Remain

Second Stage
21.05 – 22.20 Slash
19.40 – 20.35 Nightwish
18.20 – 19.10 Opeth
17.15 – 17.55 Little Angels
16.10 – 16.50 Europe
15.20 – 15.50 Terrorvision
14.30 – 15.00 The Quireboys
13.45 – 14.10 Red White and Blues
13.00 – 13.25 Six Hour Sundown

Pepsi Max Stage
21.00 – 22.00 Devin Townsend Project
19.55 – 20.35 Axewound
18.50 – 19.30 Soil
17.55 – 18.25 While She Sleeps
17.05 – 17.35 The Defiled
16.15 – 16.45 Lawnmower Deth
15.25 – 15.55 Hounds
14.35 – 15.05 Absolute Power
13.45 – 14.10 Silent Descent
13.00 – 13.25 Impaled Existence

Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage
20.45 – 21.30 Gallows
19.50 – 20.20 The Safety Fire
18.55 – 19.25 Porter Robinson
18.00 – 18.30 Marmozets
17.10 – 17.35 Upon A Burning Body
16.20 – 16.45 Dive Bella Dive
15.30 – 15.55 Reachback
14.40 – 15.05 Dead Harts
13.50 – 14.15 The Jellycats
13.00 – 13.25 Broken

Jägermeister Stage
18.25 – 19.00 Yashin
17.25 – 17.55 Skindred
16.30 – 16.55 Breed 77
15.40 – 16.05 Million Dollar Reload
14.50 – 15.15 Neonfly
14.00 – 14.25 With One Last Breath

Saturday 9th June

Main Stage
20.30 – 22.30 Metallica
18.30 – 19.45 Biffy Clyro
17.00 – 18.00 Tenacious D
15.40 – 16.30 Steel Panther
14.25 – 15.10 Trivium
13.10 – 13.55 Black Veil Brides
12.00 – 12.40 Saxon
11.00 – 11.30 As I Lay Dying

Second Stage
21.00 – 22.15 You Me At Six
19.40 – 20.30 Killswitch Engage
18.35 – 19.15 Skindred
17.30 – 18.10 Kids In Glass Houses
16.35 – 17.05 Theory of a Deadman
15.45 – 16.15 Four Year Strong
14.55 – 15.25 Lower Than Atlantis
14.05 – 14.35 Turbonegro
13.15 – 13.45 Ginger Wildheart
12.30 – 12.55 Halestorm
11.45 – 12.10 Fozzy
11.00 – 11.25 Page 44

Pepsi Max Stage
21.10 – 22.10 The Mission
20.05 – 20.45 The Union
19.00 – 19.40 Corey Taylor
18.05 – 18.35 Sylosis
17.15 – 17.45 My Passion
16.25 – 16.55 The Treatment
15.35 – 16.05 Anti-Nowhere League
14.45 – 15.15 Gun
14.00 – 14.25 The Yoyos
13.15 – 13.40 Turbowolf
12.30 – 12.50 Don Broco
11.45 – 12.10 Avosetta
11.00 – 11.20 No Americana

Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage
20.45 – 21.15 Cockney Rejects
19.45 – 20.15 Fearless Vampire Killers
18.45 – 19.15 Lostalone
17.45 – 18.15 Mallory Knox
16.45 – 17.15 Butcher Babies
15.55 – 16.20 Acoda
15.05 – 15.30 Never Means Maybe
14.15 – 14.40 I Divide
13.25 – 13.50 Golden Tanks
12.35 – 13.00 4Arm
11.45 – 12.10 Freebase
11.00 – 11.20 Royal Cartel

Jägermeister Stage
18.15 – 18.45 Tyla            
17.15 – 17.40 The Quireboys
16.20 – 16.45 Heavens Basement
15.30 – 15.55 Red White & Blues
14.40 – 15.05 Soil
13.50 – 14.15 Gun
13.00 – 13.25 Six Hour Sundown

Sunday 10th June

Main Stage
21.00 – 22.30 Black Sabbath
19.05 – 20.20 Soundgarden
17.40 – 18.35 Megadeth
16.20 – 17.10 Lamb of God
15.10 – 15.50 Black Label Society
14.00 – 14.40 Anthrax
13.00 – 13.30 Kyuss Lives
12.00 – 12.30 Devildriver
11.00 – 11.30 Stellar Revival

Second Stage
21.00 – 22.15 Rise Against
19.40 – 20.30 Dropkick Murphys
18.30 – 19.10 Refused
17.20 – 18.00 Shinedown
16.20 – 16.50 Ugly Kid Joe
15.20 – 15.50 Sebastian Bach
14.20 – 14.50 Rival Sons
13.30 – 14.00 August Burns Red
12.40 – 13.10 We Are The Ocean
11.50 – 12.20 Black Spiders
11.00 – 11.30 Kobra and the Lotus

Pepsi Max Stage

21.00 – 22.00 Periphery
19.50 – 20.30 Ghost
18.40 – 19.20 Firewind
17.40 – 18.10 Emmure
16.40 – 17.10 La Dispute
15.50 – 16.20 James Cleaver Quintet
15.00 – 15.30 Shadows Fall
14.10 – 14.40 Edguy
13.20 – 13.50 Reckless Love
12.40 – 13.10 Heaven’s Basement
11.50 – 12.20 Feed The Rhino
11.00 – 11.30 Skarlett Riot

Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage
20.45 – 21.15 William Control
19.45 – 20.15 Hawkeyes
18.45 – 19.15 The Dirty Youth
17.45 – 18.15 The Minutes
16.45 – 17.15 With One Last Breath
15.55 – 16.20 Kopek
15.05 – 15.30 You And What Army?
14.15 – 14.40 Strangle Kojak
13.25 – 13.50 Adelaide
12.35 – 13.00 Mechanical Smile
11.45 – 12.10 Pitch Black
11.00 – 11.20 Kamchatka

Jägermeister Stage
18.15 – 18.45 Saint Jude
17.15 – 17.40 Fearless Vampire Killers
16.20 – 16.45 Mordecai
15.30 – 15.55 Daken
14.40 – 15.05 Voodoo Johnson
13.50 – 14.15 Sanguine
13.00 – 13.25 White Powder Gold

Assuming that these times are correct, or close to correct, my Download Festival 2012 on paper looks something like this.

Friday
13.00 – 13.25 – Six Hour Sundown (2nd Stage)
13.50 – 14.20 – Cancer Bats (Main Stage)
14.40 – 15.15 – Fear Factory (Main Stage)
15.40 – 16.25 – NoFX (Main Stage)
16.30 – 16.50 – Europe (2nd Stage)
16.55 – 17.35 – Billy Talent (Main Stage)
18.00 – 19.00 – Machine Head (Main Stage)
19.40 – 20.35 – Nightwish (2nd Stage)
21.00 – 23.00 – Prodigy (Main Stage)

Nice opening day to a festival I’d say. Gutted about missing Axewound but I reckon they’ll be back at some point. Would have liked to be able to see Gallows on Red Bull Stage as well as an acoustic set from Skindred. This is where I hope my times are wrong somewhat.

Saturday

11.00 – 11.30 – As I Lay Dying (Main)
11.45 – 12.10 – Fozzy (2nd)
*Depending on how tired I am at this point – I may wonder over and listen to a bit of Saxon)
12.30 – 12.55 – Halestorm (2nd)
13.15 – 13.45 – Ginger Wildheart (2nd)
14.25 – 15.10 – Trivium (Main)
15.45 – 16.15 – Four Year Strong (2nd)
16.25 – 16.55 – The Treatment (3rd)
17.00 – 18.00 – Tenacious D (Main)
18.35 – 19.15 – Skindred (2nd)
19.20 – 19.45 – Biffy Clyro (Main)
20.30 – 22.30 – Metallica (Main)

Not really missing anyone here I am really gutted about missing. Wouldn’t have minded seeing Black Veil Brides but they lose to Ginger. I am really quite pleased about possibly getting to see The Treatment again.

Sunday

11.00 – 11.30 – Kobra & The Lotus (2nd)
11.50 – 12.00 – Black Spiders (2nd)
12.00 – 12.30 – Devildriver (Main)
12.40 – 12.55 – Heaven’s Basement (3rd)
13.00 – 13.30 – Kyuss Lives (Main)
13.35 – 13.50 – Reckless Love (3rd)
14.10 – 14.40 – Edguy (3rd)
15.00 – 15.15 – Shadows Fall (3rd)
15.20 – 15.50 – Sebastian Bach (2nd)
16.20 – 17.10 – Lamb of God (Main)
17.20 – 18.00 – Shinedown (2nd)
18.30 – 19.10 – Refused (2nd)
19.15 – 20.20 – Soundgarden (Main)
21.00 – 22.30 – Black Sabbath (Main)

I’m not too sad about missing Megadeth over the course of the weekend as I’ll see them headlining Hellfest the week after. Much the same with Dropkick Murphys I think. However that one is still up in the air. If I can’t be bothered to see Soundgarden for whatever reason, then I’ll see Dropkicks (or Hawkeyes). As for Black Spiders and Devildriver clash, I’m leaning as of this writing towards Devildriver but I fully suspect to see all of Spiders. Mostly because Devildriver are at Hellfest but if I have the energy after Download then I’ll go see them headline in Soton.

Anyway that is all I have on the Download front for now. I will likely post my actual running order when the times are released Friday (and try and do a comparison between my guess and the reality). As for future blogs? Well there will be a GnR review up sometime after Wednesday (might even type it on the way home) and a Ginger Wildheart review as well. Download and Hellfest reviews will likely be towards the end of June.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Soundtrack of my life #0008


Metallica - Metallica (The BlackAlbum).

This is the album that got me into Metallica. I then worked backwards before working forwards. It was the best way.

Hearing this album in full in France was superb. It will also be superb at Download.

Review: Metallica @ Stade De France. 12/05/12

Nearly two weeks ago, I nipped over the channel to go and see Metallica play the Stade De France. This was the 9th time of me seeing Metallica and the first time I’ll see them on this tour which is celebrating the Black Album by playing it in its entirety. I am also due to see them again in just over two weeks at Download. I’ve mentioned it occasionally on this blog. I went to this gig with Dave. I don’t know if he’s written a review but if so, it’ll appear on the blog linked on the side of this one. This review will cover the gig, and all the things which happened before and after.

This trip marked the first time I was going to use the Eurostar to get across to Paris. I’ve heard mixed things about it as a mode of travel but my experience of it was fine. We weren’t delayed at all. The only gripe with it I would have is there are a lot of little tunnels. Obviously, the Channel Tunnel excluded, the little tunnels were a nuisance because they were loud and played havoc with my ears (they popped, a lot). That aside, the journey was smooth. I did almost crack my ribs when using the toilet but that’s a risk anyone takes using a train toilet when the train is moving right? Right? Anyway...

The original plan was to stay in the Gare Du Nord train station over night after the gig and just wait and get the train home in the morning. Logic won out though and a hotel was booked. The hotel was literally across the road from the station which made life so much easier. The hotel was booked via a 3rd party website so I was a bit concerned about the whole thing but it turned out fine and we checked in without an issue. Before going to the hotel though, we went to the metro lines and bought a ticket which would get us to one of the stations near the Stade De France. The machine gave us one option for a ticket which seemed somewhat odd, but it was a metro ticket machine so the assumption was made at the time we would be fine. As it transpires, we weren’t. We got to one of the stations and were faced with barriers that were rejecting the ticket. Looking perplexed, we continued to try to no avail. Eventually, a member of staff came over to us and started speaking really quite fast in French (in France...who knew!) to which we looked confused and said “sorry, English?” The member of staff then said “aah....English!” and carried on speaking French. That was not helpful in the slightest. I believe there is a Blackadder joke about the most pointless book in the world being “How to Learn French” after it was translated into French. That’s how I felt in that moment. We got beeped through the gate after I’m guessing the member of staff either got bored of us or realised we didn’t intentionally defraud the country of France.

The station we went to was a fair step from the stadium and I couldn’t help but feel like we were walking to Rock AM Ring when we ended up walking along the motorway. I would say the walk from the station we ended up at was about the same, if not slightly longer than the walk from Twickenham station to the stadium (if you’ve never done that walk, then that analogy was redundant). Anyway, the stadium was really easy to find. Granted, the crowd of people all heading in the same direction helped quite a bit. One thing which had me panicked on the walk to the stadium was the number of touts who were selling tickets which did not look like the ones I had. I came to the conclusion that either they had fakes, or I did. I used the website Metallica linked to though, so in hindsight, that was a stupid thing to be worried about, but I was somewhat out of my comfort zone. I confidently predicted we would have to walk halfway round the stadium to enter the gig and I was 100% right. Being right sucks sometimes kids! As we walked up to the stadium, we could hear the end of Gojira’s set. It was a real shame missing them. I had it in my head that they would be main support as we were in France but as it transpires, I was wrong. We kicked around, outside the actual bowl as neither of us had any interest at all in seeing The Kills play. That was a long support slot, or it certainly felt like it. Granted we were outside the stadium but they sounded bad. They got a huge cheer at the end so what do I know? As soon as they went off stage, we had what we thought would be a final smoke and headed into the bowl. It turned out not to be the final smoke as France’s rules on smoking in public places differs from the UK’s and smoking inside the stadium was permitted. If I’d know that ahead of time...I still would have stood outside smoking while The Kills were on! One thing which was really entertaining was all the Mexican waves which took place around the stadium. Superb.


After what seemed like Disturbed’s entire back catalogue over the PA (without their cover of Land of Confusion, may I add), we got some build up songs indicating it was Metallica time soon. As the final beats of “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want To Rock and Roll)” faded, the familiar roar of the crowd occurred. No words I type can sum up the level of excitement which runs through me as soon as The Ecstasy of Gold starts. 9th time be damned, in that environment, it gives me Goosebumps every time! The famous video finished and the song died down and out on stage were Metallica! I could go now and talk through each song but I will talk about some personal highlights. I love the opening combo of Hit the Lights and Master of Puppets. They are songs you wouldn’t expect to open the set with but it just works. It was the same opening to Sonisphere last year and it’s excellent. On the other European dates before this one, the 3rd song was due to be The Shortest Straw (same as Sonisphere again) which I was fine with. Dave isn’t a fan of the song (but that’s because he is a bad person). However, as the final notes of Puppets finished, Hetfield came to the microphone again and said “Paris....NO REMORSE!” which was immense as I hadn’t seen that song live since 2008. For Whom the Bell Tolls is always awesome live. The 5th song had been changing up throughout the tour but it seemed to be one of Blackened, Battery or Fight Fire with Fire. I was hoping for Battery but we got something completely unexpected. “From Beyond Magnetic...this is Hell and Back!” I was blown away as I didn’t think I’d ever see a Beyond Magnetic song live but also because I love Hell and Back!

There was a video introducing The Black Album with some facts about the album and some old clips. The whole performance of it was solid. Sandman, as always was superb. It was great hearing stuff off the album I’d never heard live before like The God That Failed, The Struggle Within and Through the Never (specifically). It was great hearing The Unforgiven and Wherever I May Roam as I’d not heard those live in over 5 years. All in all, the Black Album live was stunning.

It was then time for the “encore” which was a minute before a very familiar backing tape started up. After a lot of looks around the crowd to see if everyone could hear what I was hearing, it turned out I wasn’t going mad, and Metallica were about to kick off the encore with Battery! It was absolutely....yeah! I have no words for just how good it was. The band then disappeared and the trademark fireworks went off to signify that One was about to be played. What happened while One played though will stay with me for a long time. There was an absolutely stunning laser show. No, I mean absolutely stunning. I can’t find a good video of it from Paris, so here is one from Belgrade. Just mind-blowing. The set finished with the old favourite Seek and Destroy and we all went home a happy bunch of people. See, I said earlier I wasn’t going to talk about every song and I didn’t. I just talked about my highlights. There were a lot of them.

Following the gig, we walked back to a different train station to the one we arrived at and bought the right ticket! The queue to get on the platform was crazy but well managed. We got onto a train fairly quickly and got back to the Gare Du Nord within minutes. One thing which was entertaining was a lot of people were discussing the gig in French (again, this is normal as we were in Paris) and me and Dave were discussing it in English. We then just started saying random things and talking shit. I declared that it was ok as “no-one understood a word I was saying” and it would seem that no-one did. Result! We got back to the station fine and ventured over to McDonalds for late night dinner. After messing about with a faulty fast order machine, we went up to the counter. I was dreading placing my order as I was going to be the typical Johnny Foreigner who couldn’t speak French. What made matters worse is my throat was sore and voice was going following the gig. I asked for what I wanted and to my complete surprise, the server was fluent in English. Now, if only that could be criteria for the McDonalds staff in this country. Anyway, went back to the hotel and after some TV, crashed out for a few precious hours of sleep.

After what felt like 35mins of awful sleep (I continually woke up), it was time to get ready to leave the hotel. With the station being as close as it was, we still decided to get there relatively early just to be on the safe side. With some loose coins rattling round my pocket, I decided to grab a couple of beverages for the journey back. I noticed a 1 euro waffle in the vending machine which was also purchased. Along with a croissant, that was a quality makeshift breakfast! Got through check in fine and got to the platform whereby we boarded the Eurostar and left France. The trip was so worth it and I would probably do it again for the right band (although I can’t see me doing it for anyone other than Metallica, honestly). The 9th time I saw Metallica was outstanding. They never fail to bore me live. Roll on Download for number 10 (and possibly the first time I will see them play a setlist completely comprised of songs I’ve seen them play before. Prove me wrong Metallica and play Frantic or King Nothing!)