METALLICA: 100,000 + experience "No Repeat Weekend" in Helsinki, Finland

Jun 23, 2024

Review, pictures and videos courtesy of Mikko Nissinen, a Finnish freelancer music journalist 

Massive Metallica-trek arrived at Helsinki, Finland in the very beginning of June 2024. A long tailback of black trucks with neon-yellow Metallica logos on the sides appeared to the Helsinki city street picture a week before the shows. Army of 'tallica roadies and local crew had some days time to build the stage, grounds and all the facilities ready for the now-legendary 'No Repeat Weekend'. The number one of the 'Big 4' thrash metal bands played sold-out shows at Helsinki Olympic Stadium on Friday 7:th and Sunday 9:th of June. The venue stadium was originally built for 1952 Summer Olympic Games, but was renovated throughoutly just half a year before the 'No Repeat Weekend'.

So the facilities were supposed to be better than ever for the gigantic concert weekend. Though, the venue itself was no new to Metallica, which played there also on 'St. Anger European Tour' in 2003 and on 'Escape From The Studio' -tour in 2007. The last time before this weekend Metallica had played in Finland in 2019 on "Hardwired..." World Tour, so it had been somewhat a long time since the last Finnish Met-family experience before this one. My previous Metallica live experience to this was in summer of 2012. It was a show at Kalasatama, Helsinki on 'Black Album''s 20:th Anniversary Tour.

 Night #1. Friday 7:th June:

The attendance at both nights were around 53 000 people per night, which packed the stadium full twice. Wolfgang Van Halen's Mammoth and Architects played well and did decent job as openers, and the sound quality of both the opening bands was surprisingly good compared to the average Metallica opening slots I've witnessed throughout the years.

After intro tapes "It's a Long Way To The Top If you Wanna Rock 'n Roll" by AC/DC and good old "Ecstacy of Gold" by Ennio Morricone. James, Kirk and Rob hit the stage by the thunderous sound of old school thrash metal. Simultaneously Lars and his drum kit was elevated up on the side of the circle-shaped stage. Right from the beginning they're just kill it. Opening with classics like "Creeping Death", "Harvester of Sorrow", "Leper Messiah", couldn't be a stronger start. From then on the song selection started to repeat the mid-tempo pace and even slowed down from there on. Only the double kick drum heavy-rocker, 'Diamond Head'-pastiche, "Lux Æterna" revived the crowd up a little bit before entering back into songs driven by Lars's lazy standard rock beat.


Metallica bashed through songs like blues-oriented "King Nothing", a brilliant post-grungish new tunes, "Too Far Gone?" and "Inamorata". They also played slower classics like "Fade to Black" and "Orion" (dedicated to late Cliff Burton) followed by big hit "Nothing Else Matters" (yawn!) And another heavy standard, "Sad But True". Hopelessly uninspired bonus jam by Kirk and Rob named "Helsinki Chocolate" dropped the Ball and ended up being just waste of time. Even if they showed the quality of songs and skills of a great band and even if there was no lack of heaviness either, there wasn't enough action to keep up the intensity throughout the live set. All this mainly occurred because the setlist included way too many subsequent mid-tempo songs.

Finally the 12:th song in the set, speed-thrash-rager "Blackened" and even it's follower, a mediocre groovy rocker "Fuel" came out as a salvation for the sleepy and bored ones in the audience. The songs came out refreshing like a water drop on tongue of the thirsty, but sadly a bit too late. Even if the yellow and black-coloured Metallica -ɓeach balls bounced above the hands of the audience on the stadium floor, something in the band's performance was missing. During the last masterpieces of the set "Seek And Destroy" and "Master of Puppets" it crystallized clearly to me: No speed, no versatility, no dynamics – No Metallica.

 Too bad I happened to have upper level seats right under the roof edge of the stadium, so the sound quality of the multi-point-PA-system and louder-than-life Metallica live-sound ended up sounding quite blurry up there. Mainly all this was the result of the echoing that bounced all around the stadium walls and finally up to the canopy roof.


Just days before the first show of the 'No Repeat Weekend' I got myself a floor ticket to the second show. On Saturday and Sunday Helsinki was filled with Metallica related events like Finnish cello-metal-band Apocalyptica plays Metallica -concert, Ross Halfin's and Rob's interview at Metallica -photography exhibition in the City Centre movie theatre, Metallica karaoke club and M72-tour pop-up merchandise store in the Katajanokka harbour storeroom, which I gladly visited. Even in the street corner kids played "Unforgiven" with their trumpets. Basically, no one could avoid bumping into Metallica -in way or another in Helsinki during the weekend.

As I entered the stadium, I missed the first opening band Ice Nine Kills as I was queuing for a band shirt at the merch store behind the venue. Five Finger Death Punch was the next opener. Basically, I have nothing negative to say about their performance. It just lacked the rawness, the originality and...well.. balls, to be honest.

All this made perfect sense, as Metallica sped up their day #2 -set with fierce opener, "Whiplash", which wiped away all the doubts of Metallica slowing down as a tight speed thrash band. Following atmospheric "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and "Ride The Lightning" from their early days and "Until It Sleeps" as one of their best works in the "Load" -era. Up-tempo rockers like "72 Seasons", "If Darkness Had A Son" and "Shadows Follow" proved that band's brand new material works damn well and even better live on stage than on album. "A Day That Never Comes" didn't spoil the feeling either. Today Rob and Kirk hit the right spot. They picked and jammed the Finnish punk rock classic "Olen kaunis" ("I'm Beautiful") by Pelle Miljoona OY from year 1980.

James seemed to have won all his fears and insecurities as a front man of World's biggest metal band. He greeted the Finnish audience with wide smile on his face. Lars was energetic as usual, but this time he had been seriously focussing on his drumming skills way more than before. Even if Friday wasn't the best day for Kirk as a guitarist, he served his fans well with his playing. The rest of the live set included rarely heard old instrumental, "The Call of Ktulu" including Rob's deep wah-wah effected bass intro and classics from 'Black Album like "Wherever I May Roam" and "The Unforgiven". The final four songs of the M72-weekend left nothing to prove to anyone. Well aged Metallica did decent job in playing speed thrash -anthem, "Battery", a distinguished newer heavy rocker, "Moth Into A Flame", amazingly emotional "One" and their biggest rock radio hit, "Enter Sandman."


Metallica is nowadays an institution. Maybe they are not the same wild bunch of young thrashers how they used to be during their first decades. However, they have aged with style and played well enough to keep even their most critical fans somewhat satisfied. What makes me appreciate Metallica the most is that they donated 80 000€ of their concert incomes to charity for organization that fund poor, lower class Finnish families to help their children to achive hobbies. Metallica also donated another 80 000€ to the Finnish Foundation of Safe Homes that work to prevent domestic violence and help the victims. Metallica were my heros over 30 years ago. They made me want to pick up and play electric guitar. Now in 2024, after both the concerts, they mean even more to me.




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