I would genuinely never start a review with, what a clusterfuck, but that is precisely what the METALLICA event organized by LiveNation at Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto in Hämeenlinna felt like. The band was scheduled to play there, after a series of soldout shows at Hartwall Arena, along with special act GHOST and support act BOKASSA.
Because of warnings from other people, and because of the fact that I had an interview scheduled with BOKASSA at 16.30, we arrived over an hour prior to that to Hämeenlinna. We followed the signalization for the METALLICA parking. After seeing the price of the parking there, €20(!), we decided to park the car a couple of blocks closer to the festival area. The lady of the parking had informed us the festival area is not too far away. We ended walking for about an hour, following sporadic signs that gave no indication of how far we actually were from the festival grounds. The vast amount of people made our phones not getting any reception, so Google Maps was also not an option. The closer you came to the festival ground, the more expensive the parking lots became. Parking 1 ending up being a mere €25.
When the site was safely reached, it was time for the next challenge, getting into the festival. This turned out to be a whole mess again, people redirecting us to others, who then directed us back. Eventually, after about 15 minutes of a chaotic mess, we got our accreditation, wristbands and finally could enter the terrain.
But as Monty Python has taught us, always look on the bright side of life, music heals and as soon as the bands were scheduled to play, this clusterfuck turned into something much more beautiful. BOKASSA was scheduled to play at 18.45 and the band started about five minutes late. The festival area had filled up quite neatly, and the band was set to play. If you hadn’t heard of BOKASSA before the METALLICA tour, they’re a stoner punk trio hailing from Norway. Lars Ulrich himself declared the stoner punk band his favorite new band in 2018, and it was thus no surprise he took them on tour. I’m quite intrigued as to how he got to hear about the band because before the tour at least we hadn’t heard from them, but we were pleasantly surprised by their latest studio effort “Crimson Riders” (read the review here).
The trio made sure that everyone in Hämeenlinna wouldn’t leave without having a common interest with Lars Ulrich. Throwing around the crunchy riffs, accompanied by energetically going up and down the catwalk and a lot of energy and funny stage banter, the trio dominated the huge stage and showed the audience what having a good time means. Opening up for bands like GHOST and METALLICA sure isn’t an easy task, but BOKASSA did so in style. With a total of 9 tracks, including a couple of new songs, the bands definitely warmed the audience up.
- Impending Doom
- Last Night (Was a Real Massacre)
- Mouthbreathers Inc.
- Only Gob Can Judge Me
- Captain Cold One
- Immortal Space Pirate (The Stoner Anthem)
- Walker Texas Danger
Wanting to grab a bite, we queued to grab a burger at Burger Beast, the joint sponsored by Poppamies. Now, when you organize an event that holds 55000 people, you’ve got to make sure that you have enough food stalls and drink stalls for the audience to spread out a bit. This wasn’t really the case. It didn’t matter which food stall, the queues were gigantic, probably because there were only a total of 15-20 food trucks on the festival. We waited from the last song of BOKASSA, until the first couple of songs of GHOST. It probably took us about an hour at least until we got our burger – which by the way was totally worth the wait.
Next up on the was the immensely popular Swedish metal act, GHOST. The audience had probably grown twice its size, and those who didn’t come early were stuck at the back of the festival. Cardinal Copia and his Ghouls were set to play their energetic set. From the burger queue, however, there was something really weird going on with the sound. It felt like not all the frequencies of the Cardinal’s voice came through, and somehow the music sounded very light, the sound was exceedingly bass-heavy. Whether this was due to the location, the weather or the design of the festival, I’m not sure. But once we got back in our trusted golden circle section, it sounded a lot better. Despite the sound not being optimal at the back of the audience, the crowd seemed to really enjoy songs such as “Rats”, “Dance Macabre”, “Year Zero” and “Square Hammer”.
- From the Pinnacle to the Pit
- Year Zero
- Mummy Dust
- Dance Macabre
- Square Hammer
I have seen the legendary thrash metal act METALLICA twice prior to Hämeenlinna, both times the setlist was a phenomenal and unique experience. The first time in 2007 being my absolute METALLICA highlight, but the event in 2012 dedicated to the “Black” album, was definitely also one of my all-time favorite shows. I was pretty stoked for this show because it had been such a long time. The stage looked strangely exciting as if there were a lot of surprises coming up during the show, draped in between a gigantic M and A.
A bit later than scheduled, “Ecstasy of Gold” the famous Ennio Morricone track marked the beginning of the show, and continued into “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”, the band exploded on stage, and the audience burst out into big applause. “The Memory Remains” followed straight after. The set continues focusing on both songs from the latest album, and rarely played songs such as “Disposable Heroes”. The band continued there visually impressive show with pyros during “Moth Into Flame”, and great interactions. The first part of the show somehow felt quite calm, and even though energetic, I definitely had come to see the second half of the show.
In the middle of the setlist, we got a nice surprise from Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo. The two guys started playing a POPEDA cover, named “Pitkä Kuuma Kesä”, and seemed to have practiced their Finnish pretty well. I myself couldn’t have done it better (I mean the singing, not the instrumental part). Whenever musicians try to speak Finnish during their shows, the Finnish crowd erupts in large applause, it was no different during the cover, but also when James Hetfield tried to pronounce Hämeenlinna – and to my judgment did pretty well – the audience’s excitement was infectious.
After this fun intermezzo, classics kept on coming. We heard hits like “St. Anger”, “One”, “Master of Puppets”, “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Creeping Death”, and “Seek and Destroy”. Unfortunately, because of the long walk and the fact that 55000 people had to leave the festival grounds, that previously had so much trouble, we decided to leave before the encores were played. This was a good decision, as it turned out that getting off parking, taking buses, taxis, anything that could take you away from the site, was hardly possible. It seemed like the mass was too hard to handle.
Looking back on it, the fact that these three bands were scheduled together, made the trip, however, worth the while!
- Intro: The Ecstasy of Gold (Ennio Morricone song)
- Hardwired Intro
- The Memory Remains (with extended outro)
- Disposable Heroes
- The God that Failed
- The Unforgiven
- Here Comes Revenge
- Moth Into Flame
- Sad but TrueP
- No Leaf Clover (followed by Kirk & Rob’s solos incl. ‘Kuuma Kesä’ by Popeda, ‘ManUNkind’ & ‘Orion’)
- Master of Puppets
- For Whom the Bell Tolls
- Creeping Death
- Seek & Destroy
- Spit Out the Bone
- Nothing Else Matters
- Enter Sandman (with ‘The Frayed Ends of Sanity’ outro)
Article & Photos by Laureline Tilkin
Special thanks to Ginger Vine Management