Remarkably, this is Metallica's 10th time hammering into Donington's hallowed turf. It's a history that includes landmark showings like the gloriously ragged 1991 marathon, 2003's hotter-than-hell secret set, the 2004 Lars no-show and those unforgettable 20th anniversary run-throughs of Master Of Puppets and the Black album in 2006 and 2012 respectively. In truth, there's nothing as dramatic as that this evening. Instead, we get a procession of charmingly understated moments, like James puffing a cigar side-by-side with Lars as they power through instrumental epic The Call Of Ktulu, or the drummer inadvertently reducing a small child to tears as soon as she's hoisted onstage (James: "Oh, Lars makes all the girls cry…")
For anyone who's been paying attention this tour, the run-in doesn't surprise. Moth Into Flame is the other trigger to let loose pyro stacks impressive enough to require fire-marshalls lined up side-stage. Battery incites a barrage of bloody-knuckled pits. Their now-trademark cover of Whiskey In The Jar delights the legion of Irish in attendance just slightly more than their Great British compatriots. And One and Enter Sandman? Well, we all know that those uber-classics never disappoint.
We could complain. On the week of the 20th anniversary of the release of St Anger, even its harshest detractors would've hardly begrudged Lars getting out the old bin-lids for a smash (although Papa Het does joke about it as Lars replaces a drum). And dropping only two tracks from Kill ’Em All over both nights – one more than any other tour stop so far, in fairness – still feels unreasonably tight-fisted given 72 Seasons' retro theme.
Ultimately, though, this is a celebration of where Metallica stand in 2023, and their ability to keep mixing it with bands they've inspired, decades their junior. And, as the drumsticks, sweatbands and cups full of plectrums are doled out to an insatiable legion of the Metallica Family, it's obvious that none will be treasured quite as much as the God-tier riffs still ringing in their ears.