The Thrash metal pioneers took to the Donington Park stage for the ninth time last night (June 8), for what was the first of their two headline slots at the 2023 instalment of the heavy metal festival.
As previously promised, the two sets will contain material from across their four-decade-long discography, and no two songs will be repeated on either night — making room for some lesser-played tracks to come out of the woodwork.
This was proven with their performance last night, which included their most famous tracks including ‘Sad But True’, ‘Seek & Destroy’ and ‘Leper Messiah’, as well as material from their latest studio album ‘72 Seasons’, such as ‘Lux Æterna’, ‘Screaming Suicide’ and ‘Sleepwalk My Life Away’.
With some of their mammoth hits like ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘One’ and ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ left off their set — and undoubtedly set to appear tomorrow night (June 10) — James Hetfield and co. instead made space for lesser-played tracks. This included the band kicking off the 16-song setlist with sorely-underplayed 1984 track ‘Creeping Death’, as well as the emotive 2008 ballad ‘The Day That Never Comes’.
Other highlights included the fan-favourite instrumental track ‘Orion’, and the blistering thrash hit ‘Fuel’. They also closed the show with ‘Master Of Puppets’ — a track that has recently seen a mainstream resurgence thanks to its feature on hit Netflix series Stranger Things. Check out footage of the show below, as well as the full setlist.
Metallica’s setlist was:
1. ‘Creeping Death’
2. ‘Harvester of Sorrow’
3. ‘Leper Messiah’
4. ‘King Nothing’
5. ‘Lux Æterna’
6. ‘Screaming Suicide’
7. ‘Fade to Black’
8. ‘Sleepwalk My Life Away’
10. ‘Nothing Else Matters’
11. ‘Sad but True’
12. ‘The Day That Never Comes’
15. ‘Seek & Destroy’
16. ‘Master of Puppets’
Other artists set to headline this year’s Download festival include Bring Me The Horizon, who are set to perform tonight (June 9), and Slipknot, who will close the event with their set on Sunday (June 11).
The 2023 edition also marks 20 years of the festival and, in celebration of the milestone, it was announced that the festival would last four days, instead of the usual three.
In November, over 50 artists were announced as appearing as part of the lineup, including the likes of Ghost, Evanescence, The Distillers, Placebo and Architects. More acts were later announced in February, including Halestorm, Alter Bridge, Neck Deep, Bob Vylan, Carcass, Five Finger Death Punch, Jinjer, Coheed and Cambria, Electric Callboy and Hot Milk and The Amity Affliction.
Speaking to NME last year about the festival’s diverse line-up this year – particularly with the number of female artists – Download Festival boss Andy Copping said: “All festivals need to look at how diverse they are. It’s something we’ve tried to do over the years, and we’ve still got a long way to go but it’s encouraging there’s so many great, female artists out there.
“Hopefully we can help give them a platform. We’re a long way down the line from where we were, but there’s still room to improve and we want to do that year on year.” You can read NME’s review of Download 2022 here.
In a four-star review of the opening show, NME hailed the band as “still the greatest heavy metal band around”.
“James Hetfield’s grin couldn’t be wider as he launches into the first blistering solo, while Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo manage to create a two-person circle pit on the opposite side of the stage. If there are any first-night nerves, the band aren’t showing it,” it read.
“Metallica have always been a gateway band for heavy music, but there’s a renewed excitement around them now. Tonight’s surprising, ambitious and giddy gig matches that energy at every turn.”