HEAVY METAL MUSIC | Metallica’s first concert in Spain: a powerful outpouring of energy that was preceded by a great tragedy

HEAVY METAL MUSIC | Metallica’s first concert in Spain: a powerful outpouring of energy that was preceded by a great tragedy
HEAVY METAL MUSIC | Metallica’s first concert in Spain: a powerful outpouring of energy that was preceded by a great tragedy

In 1986, with the appearance of their third album, Master of Puppets, With sales quickly taking off, especially in the United States, the thrash metal band Metallica decided to embark on a tour of the United States, which would later continue on European soil. But things began to go wrong very soon in the summer of that year: the group’s vocalist and guitarist, James Hetfield suffered a wrist injury practicing skateboarding, which forced the cancellation of some of the planned performances. The emergency solution that the group found consisted of hiring John Marshall, the technician who took care of the instruments of the other guitarist of the band, Kirk Hammett, as a temporary replacement with the instrument until Hetfield recovered. Marshall was also the guitarist of Metal Church, the group that would act as the opening act in Metallica’s debut in Spain some time later.

In September Metallica began its series of concerts in the Old Continent in search of consolidating its image and establishing itself among young European fans of that subgenre of metal that was characterized by riffs powerful, fast-paced drums, constant rhythm changes and dark, critical lyricsOn the 26th of that month, after completing their performance in Stockholm, the band members boarded the bus to begin their journey to the next destination, Copenhagen. Just before, Kirk Hammett and bassist Cliff Burton played cards to decide who would rest in the bed that the vehicle had.

The tour was proving exhausting for the San Francisco quartet due to the lack of amenities, so having the opportunity to lie down for a few hours was one of the greatest pleasures possible for musicians after a concert. Burton pulled out the trump card and took that precious spot. However, the combination of words “the die is cast” proved ironically and mercilessly tragic in the early hours of September 27. The bus carrying Metallica suffered an accident in Kronoberg (Sweden), began to spin, Burton was thrown from the vehicle and the car fell on top of him, killing him. He was only 24 years old.

That hard blow caused Hetfield and Ulrich to even consider ending the band. The tour was suspended, and with it the concerts scheduled for October 8 and 9 in Barcelona and San Sebastian, respectively, in which the band Anthrax was to accompany them as a support act.

It was not until 1987 that Metallica’s first performance in Spain took place.The city chosen was Barcelona, ​​the date, January 17, and the venue, the Municipal Sports Palace. Fans from many towns and provinces near Barcelona traveled to the venue. The next day the American group would perform in Madrid. Many rock fans came to the event to check out the show. on site the performance of one of the top representatives of the thrash metalthe subgenre of heavy which was gaining followers in Spain year after year.

In the vicinity of the venue there were some fights between gang members and a young man was seriously injured by a knife. There were also some police charges. Security measures were considerably high. Some attendees said that during the search at the doors of the Palace, the characteristic spiked wristbands that defined the aesthetic of many of them were removed. heavys in those years. Once inside the space where the concert was to take place, there were no significant incidents beyond the typical pushing and somewhat abrupt movements of a good part of the audience that was crowded in the first rows under the stage. The reality is that although the Palace was well attended, it was not filled.

After the performance of the opening act Metal Church, the music began to play The Ectasy of Golda song composed by Ennio Morricone for the film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and which has accompanied the group for decades as a prelude to their performances. The four members of Metallica burst onto the stage: James Hetfield (guitar and vocals), Kirk Hammett (lead guitar), Jason Newsted (bass, after Burton’s death) and Lars Ulrich (drums). The song Battery It sounded like a forceful opening, with the faithful metalheads raising their fists in the air and enjoying that new devastating style that accelerated the pulse to the sound of a frenetic drum.

Barcelona native Daniel Cardó was there. He was 19 years old at the time. “It’s been 37 years, but I remember that concert very well. “It was a tour we had been waiting for for a long time. That arena was very iconic. We saw bands like Iron Maiden and Wasp there a month earlier, for example. To see Metallica I went with my lifelong friends, who also had a small music group. The first song was already tremendous.”

Then it was the turn of Master of Puppetsone of the songs that was best received in the American group’s live performances. “The band was in one of its best moments. Master of Puppets It meant a before and after in the heavy metal “in terms of sound,” says Cardó. “It was a time when the thrash metal was practically emerging, and Metallica’s attitude that day was not like it is now, when they are more ‘friendly’. They had to be very tough, that’s what they were playing for. thrash metal, but they looked very good, especially James Hetfield, who was having a great time, and also Kirk Hammett, who has always been seen very close to him,” he says.

They sounded next For Whom the Bells Tolls, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Ride the Lightning, Whiplash y The Thing that Should Not Bewith a bass solo from Jason Newsted in between. And then, with the interpretation of Fade to Black A kind of collective ecstasy was generatedIt was a song that had been received with some suspicion among some of the band’s followers, but the Barcelona audience reacted by trying to emulate the energy that the group projected on stage. Seek and Destroy y Creeping Death They closed the first part of the concert, before the band played the encores: The Four Horsemen, Am I Evil and finally, Damage, Inc.

“The image that always comes to my mind is that of the stage with the crosses, like the ones that appeared on the cover of the album Master of Puppets. Here in Spain, bands at that time always came with stage cuts. You saw spectacular tours in other countries, and they came here and you said ‘what’s wrong, they’ve fooled us’, but that stage, Metallica being a relatively new band for the Spanish market, stayed with me”, recalls Cardó. For this Metallica fan, the quality of the sound was also remarkable that night: “That arena didn’t usually have very good acoustics. We had seen the Ramones there and we didn’t understand half of what they sang. With Motörhead, the same. But with Metallica there was a classic sound with Metallica’s guitars like those of today, although they have already lowered the piston a bit. It was a sensation of great strength”.

The chronicle of the concert that appeared in the newspaper The vanguard Two days later he described the quartet as “powerful” and mentioned that “each member of the group knows how to play his or her respective instrument very well and they all play them, effectively, with a truly overwhelming efficiency.” The columnist also referred to the “great energetic potential of the group” and considered: “it is perhaps an indeterminate and uncontrolled energy

but very powerful”.

The magazine’s criticism would be even more devastating. Heavy Rock with Metallica’s performance the following day in the Spanish capital. The columnist stated in it that “Metallica continued making noise without any attraction” and continued to affirm that “they did the corresponding encores, an extension of the torpor with which they had inundated me during most of their repertoire.” “I don’t think that Metallica are or represent the new era of heavy metal. The genre would have a bad outcome, it would be a dead end,” he predicted.

“You were going to see a group that had made Master of Puppetswhich reached us inside, but “none of us thought Metallica was going to get where it was going to get” Cardó admits that almost four decades later he still retains in his memory that first performance of the San Francisco band in Spain, and keeps that entry in a photo album as a precious treasure of his personal life museum.

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