8.6.2024 Apocalyptica @ Helsingin Jäähalli, Helsinki

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It’s almost as if a music executive noticed an opportunity… World-renowned thrash metal act METALLICA visited Finland during what was dubbed METALLICA-weekend, spanning from Friday, June 7th, to Friday, June 9th, 2024. Right in the midst of this, there was space for even more METALLICA tunes. So, someone came up with the brilliant idea to have APOCALYPTICA headline a show at Helsingin Jäähalli on June 8th, 2024, just one day after releasing their “Plays Metallica Vol. 2“—during, you guessed it, METALLICA weekend! Since we weren’t allowed to cover the METALLICA shows, this was a great opportunity to see the equally great APOCALYPTICA perform some of the world’s biggest metal hits.

The show kicked off like any proper METALLICA concert, with the famous intro track “The Ecstasy of Gold” by Ennio Morricone, filling the air with anticipation. “Ride the Lightning” was the first song to kick off the evening, and it was a thrill to finally see the band play some of their new METALLICA interpretations live. The new “Plays Metallica” album is far more experimental than the first, allowing the show’s production to be nothing short of spectacular. APOCALYPTICA isn’t really known for stage gimmicks, but they have definitely upped their lighting game in recent years. This time around, the lighting was simply beautiful, enhancing the music in a truly remarkable way.

This was my first show without drummer Mikko Sirén, and while the session drummer, Mikko Kaakkuriniemi, did a great job, Mikko‘s presence was definitely missed. His drum kit had always felt like a huge part of the production and atmosphere. Although it seems like there won’t be a new permanent APOCALYPTICA drummer, it was great to see the band continue with someone else. It’ll be interesting to see who they bring on tour next.

“Enter Sandman” followed, hyping up the audience to the max. Personally, I would have preferred this song to be saved for later in the set, but it definitely helped warm up the crowd. It’s always amazing to see the whole band, despite not singing, mouthing along the words and probably singing loudly while playing complex music on their cellos. The band made sure to include as much of their METALLICA repertoire as possible, featuring some of their biggest hits. Seeing these songs played in a different way was a really fun highlight of the METALLICA-centered weekend.

One missed opportunity was the lack of “special guest” appearances. It would have been the absolute coolest thing to see Rob Trujillo play bass on a song or two, as he did on the album. Later on, I learned he was actually at the venue, but nothing came of it. Logistical issues, perhaps? Additionally, while some of the APOCALYPTICA members clearly attended METALLICA‘s Helsinki shows, they never made an appearance on stage. This felt like a missed opportunity, but we’re not complaining—the show was top-notch even without guest appearances.

During the last two songs, cellist Eicca Toppinen visibly struggled with an injury. During “Nothing Else Matters,” it seemed like he hurt his hand. He pushed through the pain, showing true showmanship, but the band had to take a brief intermission to see if they could continue. Originally set to play “Master of Puppets” next – I saw this at least on a setlist floating around on some fan account -, they decided to skip it and end on a high note with a more manageable song, “One.” They opted for the newly released version featuring James Hetfield, although he was not present. It was odd to see APOCALYPTICA play to a backing track with James Hetfield on tape, but it worked. I’d love to see the version with an actual orchestra one day, but one can only dream.

Altogether, having this event and kick-off for their upcoming Plays Metallica Vol 2 tour during METALLICA weekend was a brilliant move. On any other occasion, they might have filled the venue even more, but given that people were a bit tired from the day before and the day to come, attendance was slightly lower than expected. Perhaps a discount for those attending two days of the METALLICA weekend would have been appropriate. Nonetheless, the atmosphere was great, the setlist dynamic, and the show entertained METALLICA fans thoroughly. I didn’t see anyone not singing along, and despite some challenges for the band, it was a fantastic evening; hopefully, Eicca‘s hand is fully healed before they head on their tour!

Text and photos by Laureline Tilkin

Setlist

  1. Ride the Lightning (Metallica cover)
  2. Enter Sandman (Metallica cover)
  3. Creeping Death (Metallica cover)
  4. For Whom the Bell Tolls (Metallica cover)
  5. Battery (Metallica cover)
  6. Until It Sleeps (Metallica cover)
  7. The Unforgiven II (Metallica cover) (Live premiere)
  8. The Call of Ktulu (Metallica cover) (Live premiere)
  9. Drum battle (With Riki Murto)
  10. Sad but True (Metallica cover)
  11. St. Anger (Metallica cover) (Live premiere)
  12. Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (Metallica cover)
  13. The Four Horsemen (Metallica cover) (Live premiere)
  14. Blackened (Metallica cover) (Live premiere)
  15. Fight Fire With Fire (Metallica cover)
  16. Seek & Destroy (Metallica cover) (with “…And Justice For All” outro)
  17. Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover) (Encore)
  18. One (Encore)