Metallica: Glastonbury experience was 'sensational'

By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter

media captionThere have been mixed reactions to headline act Metallica at the Glastonbury Festival, as Lizo Mzimba reports

Heavy metal band Metallica won over new fans as they headlined on Glastonbury's famous Pyramid Stage on Saturday.

The band played for 90 minutes, with highlights including One, Cyanide and an extended version of Master Of Puppets.

The quartet are the first metal act to headline the festival since its inception in 1970.

Drummer Lars Ulrich said: "That was sensational. I don't remember much of it... the energy was fantastic."

Speaking to the BBC's Jo Whiley backstage after their set, Ulrich said he had been at Glastonbury since Friday and wanted to immerse himself in the experience.

"We have one shot, you never know if you'll be invited back," he said.

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image captionMetallica opened their Glastonbury set with Creeping Death

"I want to soak up every second of this thing. We would love to come back."

He added that he was looking forward to Sunday's acts, including Dolly Parton and Kasabian.

"I'll be the last one (here)... the one walking round with a garbage bag on Tuesday."

Asked to describe his Glastonbury experience in one sentence, Ulrich simply said: "Other-worldly."

Even the band's detractors would have been hard-pushed to deny their musicianship.

Fans and supporters lined the back of the stage as they ended the main set with Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman.

"Metallica. Glastonbury. Together at last," declared songwriter James Hetfield. "That felt good."

Returning for an encore of Whiskey in the Jar and Seek and Destroy, the band launched dozens of black Metallica-branded weather balloons into the audience, triggering a giant game of dodgeball between the audience and security guards.

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image captionLars Ulrich told the BBC that headlining the festival was "the biggest honour"
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image captionThe band played an encore of Whiskey in the Jar and Seek and Destroy

"Metallica loves you, Glastonbury," said Hetfield as the band took their final bow.

"You made us feel so good. Thank you for having us."

Taking the microphone, Ulrich added: "There's no place on this earth like this beautiful Glastonbury Festival. Thank you for letting us be part of your experience and we hope to see you one more time."

Formed 33 years ago, the group's best-known songs include Enter Sandman, Nothing Else Matters and Master of Puppets.

Prior to their arrival on the Pyramid Stage, the band played a clip of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, in tribute to actor Eli Wallach, who died this week.

Ennio Morricone's Ecstasy of Gold, which features in the classic Western, has been Metallica's introduction music for many years.

The band also addressed criticism of Hetfield's involvement with pro-hunting groups head-on, showing an extended clip of an English fox hunt, soundtracked by Sweet's glam rock classic Fox on the Run.

At the climax of the hunt, four men in bear costumes shot the riders from their horses.

The bear's heads were removed to reveal the four grinning members of Metallica.

In the field

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Metallica rocked Glastonbury with a strange mix of arrogance and humility.

Speaking to the crowd 15 minutes into the set, Hetfield said: "Glasto - Metallica is grateful to be invited to such an event.

They knew they had something to prove - but they were also representing a genre of music that, they feel, has been unfairly maligned.

"We're very proud to be representing the heavier side of music," said Hetfield, dedicating a song to "all the UK bands dreaming of playing this stage and uttering the cry: 'Do you want heavy?'"

The answer was a definitive "yes".

The band didn't hold back, delivering a sensory assault of punchy power riffs from the outset.

But it wasn't just, as one critic suggested "loud one, loud one, loud one, encore" - with moments of acoustic reflection and supple musicianship amidst the double kick drums.

In the end, Metallica did what they came to do - win over new fans.

And for metalheads, the show will have been much more resonant than the Rolling Stones' headline set was for their audience last year.

Jack White, who played the Pyramid Stage immediately before Metallica, jammed on the riff to Enter Sandman during his set, prompting a surge towards the stage.

The musician ran through two dozen hits - including Hotel Yorba and Seven Nation Army - each delivered with the urgency of a band playing their encore.

But the effect was dampened slightly when, leaving the stage, he fell over his drum kit.

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The audience had endured heavy showers throughout Saturday, and large swathes of the 900-acre site have become a swamp - but there was no sign of the thunder and lightning that had been forecast.

Sunday is due to be dry.

Famous faces spotted at the festival include Stella McCartney, Downton Abbey actresses Laura Carmichael and Lily James, film star Bradley Cooper and new Culture Secretary Sajid Javid.

As of midday on Saturday 138,152 ticket-holders were on site - a few thousand below capacity, suggesting some had been put off by the weather.

Singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey opened proceedings on the main Pyramid Stage, telling fans: "I know you're going to have the best day of your lives."

The musician, whose hits include Cucurrucu and Meet Me There, later confessed he only had "10 minutes to get things together, because Metallica were soundchecking right up until our stage time."

But his uplifting acoustic-pop was perfect for the early morning revellers, who swayed and bobbed in time to the music.

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image captionJack White played the famous Pyramid Stage
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image captionThe Manic Street Preachers performed as part of Saturday's line-up
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image captionLana Del Ray was also a highlight of the second day of the festival

Mulvey later played at a special event curated by folk-pop band Mumford and Sons in the Avalon Field, on the very outskirts of the site.

Rock group Haim also joined the low-key show, playing Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well and the Rolling Stones' Honky Tonk Woman with Marcus Mumford and his band, who headlined the festival last year.

Lana Del Rey drew an adoring crowd to the Pyramid Stage, making a dramatic appearance in kohl-smudged eyes and a tie-dye dress.

Her louche, darkly romantic hits National Anthem, Video Game and West Coast were suitably dramatic as the sun played hide-and-seek in a stormy sky, but some fans felt the singer lacked charisma and drifted away towards the end of her set.

Thousands turned up to watch rock newcomers Royal Blood at the smaller John Peel tent, spilling out into the fields and nearby campsites.

"We couldn't see any grass, it was all just hair and eyes," said frontman Mike Kerr after the show.

"We always felt [Glastonbury] was going to be a bit of a milestone for us, but that show blew us out of the water. The response still hasn't registered."

Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant played one of the most musically diverse sets of the day, with hits like Black Dog given drastic West African and South East Asian overhauls.

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image captionRobert Plant played a set inspired by folk songs and world music
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image captionKelis was performing at her third Glastonbury
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image captionCrowds endured heavy showers throughout Saturday with parts of Worthy Farm becoming a swamp

Preceding him on the Pyramid Stage, R&B star Kelis also re-tooled some of her most famous songs, giving a jazzy big-band treatment to tracks like Milkshake and A Capella.

Dressed in a neon pink dress, the US star spread positive vibes in the midday sun, signing off saying: "Live well. Treat each other well. Cheers!"

"I feel like I'm on a winning streak," she told the BBC backstage.

"This is my third Glastonbury and it's been sunny every time. I'm very happy about that."

Over on the Other Stage, Jake Bugg played a headline set, above more experienced acts like Manic Street Preachers and The Pixies.

The 20-year-old admitted that topping the bill had given him a case of the nerves.

"I get apprehensive, certainly," he told the BBC. "It's a big deal for me.

"If people are going to come and spend their evening watching my set, I've got to make sure I perform well and play the songs they want."

The festival continues on Sunday with Dolly Parton, Ed Sheeran and Kasabian on the bill.

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