Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A Metallica Moment

Metallica are very much in the news again at present, thanks to a brand new album and tour. It got me thinking about the time I was invited backstage with the band at their 1992 Wembley show - and how the experience has definitely shortened my life by at least a few minutes...
The thing was, I was doing my journalist thing, interviewing Kirk Hammett and had agreed to turn up at the band's hotel in central London before the evening's gig. So I turned up and sat chatting with Kirk for around half an hour when a record company type poked her head around the door and said that there might be a problem with transport for the gig. Apparently there was a major rugby match on at Wembley Stadium that afternoon and the band were originally scheduled to turn up for the soundcheck around the time the match finished. Sensing traffic chaos, the record company had decided that the band should leave for the gig much earlier than planned, leaving me - and my interview - a little high and dry. 
Sensing my plight, they asked me if I would like to come along and finish my interview backstage at Wembley. I had a Fast Show moment and thought, 'Me? Turning up at Wembley with Metallica in a large black limo, with my reputation? What can they be thinking?' And agreed.
So off we went. In the end I didn't travel with the band, but still got treated to a chauffeur-driven limo... and I got to talk to Kirk for a further 30 minutes or so backstage. Job done.
Next question - would I like to stay and watch the gig? Hmmm... OK. Would I like to go into the infamous Mosh Pit? (Metallica fans will know this as possibly the most extreme courtesy a journalist can be offered by the band). Err... No, side of stage will be fine, thanks very much. My moshing days were well and truly over.
So I stood by the side of the stage, near the back and watched the band led onto the darkened platform one by one. Kirk struck up the intro riff to Enter Sandman and the crowd went wild. Great atmosphere... Hey, rock'n'roll!
But... Nobody warned me that on the first beat of the bar where the band all start playing the riff together after the intro, there would be a bloody great bang and flames would shoot 50 feet into the air - right next to where I was standing.
You imagine it - a bang loud enough to be heard over Metallica letting rip isn't going to be anything other than ear drum shattering and I was a few feet away. I think I jumped almost as high as the flames...
To give you some idea about what I experienced, there's a film on You Tube here that will give you the gist. The bang is about 1 min 50 sec in...
Despite the heart palpitations and serious shock, I have to say that it was possibly one of my better backstage experiences, all the same!

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