Tag Archives: Enter Sandman

Metallica at Palace Grounds,Bangalore


It took them 30 years to reach the Indian subcontinent. Most of the people attending the show were not even as old as the wait. The most successful and the most popular heavy metal band of all time, Metallica was going to make its debut on Indian soil on the 28th of October 2011. When the D-day arrived, it wasn’t without its share of hiccups. The much-awaited Gurgaon show was cancelled at the last minute which resulted in a massive riot at the venue, the damage of expensive equipment and most importantly, the disappointment of thousands of fans who hoped to catch a glimpse of their favourite band.

Yet, fans from Bangalore were desperately hoping that there wouldn’t be a similar turn of events in their city. Here was this near-impossible opportunity to watch the band that has influenced so many hard-rock and metal acts in the past 20 years, live. The flood of tweets and status messages prior to the show only reinforced the already hard-to-contain anticipation.

30th of October, 2011 shall go down in history as the day Metallica tore Palace Grounds apart with their first ever show in India. After the Black Friday in Gurgaon, the threat of the concert being cancelled in Bangalore loomed large but thankfully, the stars aligned and the Gods obliged – the stage was set for one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time.

Metallica at Palace Grounds,Bangalore

I did my bit by patiently standing in queue for about forty minutes before realizing there was a separate, significantly less-crowded entrance for media! Once in, the show kicked off earlier than expected. Bangalore’s very own Inner Sanctum kicked off proceedings with ‘Human Disregard’ off their debut EP Provenance. The sizeable crowd inside the venue was matched in number by scores of black-tee-clad-people who were patiently waiting outside in queue to enter the concert area. I stood close to the stage and could feel the thump of the bass drum on the side of my face. Sanctum was THAT loud. Their new song ‘Guardian’ followed the concert-staple ‘Agent of Chaos’ as Sanctum ended their abridged set with vocalist Gaurav throwing t-shirts into the crowd. The new-look Sanctum (Suraj on guitars is relatively new and Narayan was filling in for Michael on bass) had yet again raised the bar for Indian metal bands with their combination of technical skill and energy on stage.

There was a steady stream of people trickling in as Nikhil Chinappa dressed in a faux-rock outfit, appeared on stage to introduce the next opening act – Guillotine. He was warmly greeted with a sea of middle-fingers and “f**k you” chants! Since they also hail from Delhi, it prompted a tongue-in-cheek “Delhi Sucks” chorus from the audience, the Gurgaon no-show still fresh in memory. Sadly, Guillotine sounded very flat on the day. Their own-comps were a pointless mish-mash of many genres and to add to the band’s misery, guitarist Takar broke a string during a song. Inevitable FTN comparisons were made as the patient crowd could only muster a lukewarm applause when the band finally finished their set.

Metallica at Palace Grounds,Bangalore

Once Guillotine wrapped up, the concert crew set to work on readying the stage for the international bands to perform. Scottish alt-rock act Biffy Clyro‘s soundcheck took almost an hour to complete as the crowd stood expectantly in the pouring rain. It was getting increasingly difficult to stand or walk about at the venue owing to the annoying slush. I wasn’t sure what to expect when Biffy finally appeared on stage. The three-piece band hailing from Kilmanrock did have a unique sound but it wasn’t something that would whet one’s appetite for some Metallica. Most of their songs bordered on emo-ish indie rock although they did have some riff-y moments. Admittedly, I phased out for most of Biffy’s set, choosing instead to loudly crack Metallica PJ’s much to the annoyance of everyone around me. At this juncture everybody was on tenterhooks, eagerly awaiting Metallica’s appearance on stage. The slightest hint of  sound emanating from the stage during the subsequent sound check- a stray guitar clang, a low-end bass note or a snare hit were all cheered excitedly by the hungry crowd. Fans even took to singing along with the recorded music that blared through the PA system. The rain had subsided and much to everyone’s annoyance a roadie was giving the patient crowd lessons on safety. But at roughly ten minutes past eight, a thousand hearts unanimously skipped a beat.

The LED screens to the right of the massive stage played a clip from the iconic western – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly whilst Ennio Morricone’s ‘Ecstasy of Gold’ played out in the background. And then…the epic intro riff to ‘Creeping Death’. That was it. The crowd got their first glimpse of their heroes and went absolutely berserk. This was the moment everyone had waited for. Hell, up until the day of the show there was a certain apprehension as to whether the Bangalore gig would even happen. Even during the opening bands’ performances we were informed that the show would only happen if all the safety arrangements were in place. All the apprehension and uneasiness was lifted off our shoulders in an instant as we saw and heard Metallica. Live for the first time in India!

Metallica at Palace Grounds,Bangalore

They carried forward the energy of ‘Creeping Death’ into ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’. A good chunk of the elated crowd sang along to the chorus and chanted “Die! Die! Die!” with fists raised in the air. Astonishingly, Hetfield’s vocals sounded exactly like the studio versions of the songs. The last few bars of ‘For Whom…‘ gave way to ‘Fuel’ and I’m certain that a few heads exploded thanks to the sheer awesomeness of the moment. The pyrotechnics on stage lit up just as the “Gimme Fuel Gimme Fire” lyrics were heard. People around me were flashing texts on their phones with the probable setlist and were trying to second-guess the next song. Hetfield then asked the crowd if they liked the vintage stuff just as the ‘Ride the Lightning’ opening riff drowned out the crowd’s cheers. The live version managed to capture the sense of maddening paranoia of the studio version even though the tempo seemed a tad slowed down. Lars Ulrich and Rob Trujillo provided the solid rhythm section to Hetfield’s riffing and Hammett’s solos. Hammett teased the crowd with a solo that was the lead-in to ‘Fade to Black’. Hetfield, with only his silhouette seen against the backdrop of the giant LED stood on the upper tier of the stage while the rest of the band thrashed it out below. They then played ‘Cyanide’ from their latest album Death Magnetic (after Hetfield asked the crowd for permission to do so!) before playing the iconic ‘Memory Remains’. You would be hard-pressed to find an audience in the world who would sing the outro for a minute after the song was over but Bangalore did just that. Hetfield and Co. stood at the precipice of the stage and just soaked it all in, conducting everyone to keep it going. 40,000 fans sang in unison even after the music had stopped. The moment cannot possibly be described in words, the closest description I can come up with – perfect.

Metallica at Palace Grounds,Bangalore

Metallica’s newer work has been criticized in some circles but when played live it is a different beast altogether. The eight minute epic ‘All Nightmare Long’, one of their heaviest tracks to date, was played with ease. It didn’t escape my attention that most people weren’t too familiar with the newer tracks and chose to record the spectacle on their phone cameras instead. Helicopter and airplane dubs playing over the PA meant only one thing- the anti-war song (and my personal favourite) ‘One’. My trance-like state was mildly disturbed when everyone around me jumped up and down, devil’s horns held up in the air. ‘Master of Puppets’. That genius, Hetfield even did the evil laugh in the song much to everyone’s delight. People had travelled from far-flung corners of the country to witness this event and it lived up to all of their expectations and more. People clutched their foreheads in disbelief at what they were witnessing. Hetfield, clearly overwhelmed at the fantastic response thanked the audience before launching into ‘Blackened’ after which the lights dimmed for ‘Nothing Else Matters’. Words cannot do justice to how powerful their performance of this anthem was. It might sound repetitive when I mention 40,000 people singing in unison, but I can’t word it differently – it was precisely that! They closed their unbelievably good setlist with ‘Enter Sandman’. Scores of already-hoarse, nostalgic teens and young adults headbanged as fireworks went off above the stage. The stage was obscured by a sea of devil’s horns and whiplashing necks. This was as good as any climax can get.

Metallica at Palace Grounds,Bangalore

Metallica reappeared on stage for their encore and began with a cover of Diamond Head’s ‘Am i Evil’ (Did anyone spot the intro riff to ‘Frayed Ends of Sanity’ just before it?) The pummeling riffs of ‘Battery’ soon followed. For a band that has been around for 30 years there was absolutely no dip in the energy level. Every song was a tour de force that had a vibe that united everyone present there – they were a part of something special. They ended their set with ‘Seek and Destroy’ from their debut album Kill ’em All. The band members individually thanked the people present and Ulrich promised to come back to India for a gig in the future. Plectrums were generously flung into the crowd and so were drumsticks. Heck, even a policeman managed to get one!

While walking out of the packed venue, I heard a few people complain about Hammett flubbing a couple of solos and about the band not being as tight as they should have. Complaints about the organization and the security at the venue also echoed. But the concert had a greater significance in the grand scheme of things for such glitches to matter. For years now, there have been several untrue rumours about the possibility of Metallica touring India and when it finally happened it left an indelible mark on the metal fans of the country who had waited twenty long years (or more) for this opportunity. All the hype surrounding the event was justified as Metallica brought along a killer setlist and oodles of energy and badass-ness to Bangalore. If a future tour does indeed happen, splendid! If it doesn’t, the memory remains.

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Sohan Maheshwar

Jack of all tirades, total shirk-off. Follow Sohan on twitter! @soganmageshwar


Axe-tortion at The Blue Frog, Mumbai



I landed up at the Blue Frog last night anticipating some pure guitar wizardry from some of the best musicians on the rock scene. Tonight was yet another edition of Chandresh Kudwa’s long-running and popular guitar-centric initiative called Axe-tortion, where he, along with two other guitarists played individual sets before finally jamming together. On my way there, I made it a point to listen to a few staple favorites by Joe Satriani and Andy Timmons, just to get into the mood.

After the customary ‘ingest-as-much-alcohol-outside-before-entering-an-expensive-place’ was out of the way, a couple of friends and I entered my favorite venue. The first act was already up and featured the new shredder on the local scene, Lokesh Bakshi on stage. He was flanked by Arjun Dhanraj of NerveRek on rhythm guitars, Dusty Ryan on bass, and rocksteady drummer Hamza on well, the drums. The song they were playing had dual solos, double bass, and was certainly very loud. Not to forget Dusty’s Steve Harris pose which would make one wonder if we were indeed at an Iron Maiden tribute gig!

The next song they jumped into had a nice drum intro that moved into a 6/8 groove with Ryan and Lokesh doing a Sheehan/Gilbert trading of licks. It ended with a furious 2/4 beat which would probably have got a mini mosh pit going at a venue like B69. Nothing of the sort happened here, but whatever we saw so far led us to forebode the upcoming ‘jam’ towards the end of the gig. Special mention here for Lokesh’s fingers, that seem to fly faster than Thor’s hammer, and that he extracted a nice cackling tone out of the Fender Strat that he was using.

Paresh Kamath, who was up next, is one talented and good looking dude, which my girlfriend never fails to point out to me. Well I have to agree, with the talented part at least. His guitar shot out a giant fat warm tone, with a minimum layering of effects. Hamza was still on drums and nobody minded his casual switch to an almost progressive funk style. Joining them on stage was the veteran and super attack fingers Crosby Fernandes on bass, although for some reason the bass guitar was sounding a little too wet for my taste.

I was busy marveling at Paresh’s Satch influences and his legato runs when I realized that he was using a Gibson Les Paul. It suddenly struck me that the last jam was going to be an all-out guitar war featuring the Strat, Les Paul and Ibanez!

They next jumped into a song called ‘Nitty Gritty’, which had a very funk staccato intro. Crosby’s bass playing was now shining through and he was a treat to listen to as he seemed to effortlessly complement Hamza’s grooves. Paresh has a great melodic sense in his style of playing. I also loved the way he holds back on shredding all over and makes the high pitch bends the big moments in his solos. He also showed off some very imaginative loop licks in his awesome display of tone and feel.

Chandresh Kudwa is like a freak of nature. I mean what else do you call someone who plays the Ukulele and Guitar, ambidextrously and simultaneously? I guess we could call him a genius too, and although the word is thrown around a lot, it does makes a lot of sense here.

The first song, called ‘G-uke’ was a killer and pretty popular, which goes to show the following this unique project already enjoys. ‘Floating feelings of a rare kind’ followed which pulled the crowd to the front. Good bands always manage to do that. A Samba sounding song called ‘The White Door’ followed, with some tasteful whammy bar playing by Chandresh (Also a great way to show off your giant flashy looking Ben 10 watch!). ‘All I do is this’ had an excellent heavy riff although the song was a little bit boring. The band was still the same with Crosby and Hamza pulling their weight interspeeding great phrasing and tightness! Chandresh’s tone was as usual perfect. Bright yet smooth and his legato shredding never sounded better.

Chandresh then invited the other two ESHs – Paresh and Lokesh back on for the last jam. They attempted one of my favorite songs of all time ‘Little Wing’ which was kind of a let down, with too much flash on a feel song especially when the best known versions are by Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Then came the surprise for the night. The band launched into ‘The Trooper’ with a giant crushing 3-part harmony intro by the guitarists. This had to have been Lokesh’s suggestion going by his incredible shredding and the way he managed to transfix his face with this delirious expression, evidence of how much fun he was having. And if that wasn’t surprise enough, the last song they launched into was by Metallica; A thundering version of ‘Enter Sandman’ wreaked havoc on stage with each guitar player trading solos all over the place. At one point Chandresh and Lokesh were playing lap guitars and it was a really funny moment to watch Paresh smoke out a cool cat lick in reply to the twin tornadoes of notes.

A special mention for Hamza and Crosby. Hamza was tireless and hardly ever faulty in his playing and Crosby was like Batman at this gig. He didn’t have any super powers but he still kicked butt. The entire experience was thoroughly enjoyable and I would highly recommend anyone to go watch them the next time they are playing. Axe-tortion is a well conceptualized property that will eventually end up featuring every type of guitar player out there. I cant wait for the next edition.

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Howard Pereira

Howard is a guitarist with Mumbai based bands, Dischordian and Overhung. His other interests include drinking, comic books and occasional writing.