06
Nov 11

Metallica Live in India: The Bangalore experience (Photos, videos… and a few words)

October 30th, 2011. Sunday. The big day.

Metallica Bangalore concert tickets DNA

The one band Bangalore had been waiting for over 20 years is finally in town!

We reached Palace Grounds around 2pm and the line even before the gates opened were extending outside the venue for nearly a kilometre!

Palace Grounds TV tower grey cloud Bangalore

Grey clouds did mean it was going to rain

Bangalore crowd Metallica concert

By 3pm, we managed to get in. Erm, some what.

Metallica concert crowd Palace grounds entrance

They were only allowing people in slowly and in batches, so still a lot of waiting until we were anywhere inside the actual concert area

Not that there wasn’t enough ‘entertainment’ around us. Needless to say, some in the crowd were high even before the concert. One guy climbed up a tree to get an idea of what was taking so long, which only drew cheers from the crowd. Then the crowd shouted: “JUMP! JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!”. The look on tree guy’s face was as though he faintly understood what the crowd below were chanting. When the crowd realized he wasn’t going to jump, they then shouted: “PUSSY! PUSSY! PUSSY! PUSSY!” It was freakin’ hilarious! :D

But all order broke loose when we heard a police siren and looked back to see a police vehicle escorting a convoy of high-end SUVs. The crowd made way assuming it was the Metallica themselves making their way to the venue. The cheers gave way to resentment when the license plate of the Range Rover said ‘Member of Parliament’. After that, the mood changed to anger and abuses hurled at the convoy. (The Range Rover was driven by Rajeev Chandrasekhar)

Eventually, the calm that was maintained ended as the convoy had to pass through and the crowd gave up on being patient and just ran past the gates and towards the concert grounds. You can’t blame the organizers when MPs themselves create havoc and only care for their own interest. Not to mention abuse a police escort to come to a concert!

Fortunately, nobody was hurt. I eventually regrouped with my friends and everybody formed another big line leading up to the concert ground.

Bangalore TV tower Palace Grounds Metallica concert

I was okay missing the first two opening acts. I didn’t want to rush or be rushed.

Bangalore Metallica concert day clouds India

As long as I was inside before Biffy Clyro hit the stage

Because it rained, the grounds were muddy and even though DNA (the organizers) covered the grounds with massive green mats (of some sort), the mud was still seeping through, given how many feet were pressing down on it. Past the security check and frisking, we finally entered the grounds by 5:30pm.

The audience was divided in an ‘H’ formation and the section close to the stage was already packed with people. I had no desire to be squished, so we went to the second section and secured a spot in front of the middle screen.

Biffy Clyro opening for Metallica Bangalore

Fortunately, Biffy Clyro hadn’t taken the stage yet

Biffy Clyro opening act Bangalore rock in India

Biffy took to the stage just before 6pm and hit the audience hard with their alternative rock. It also began to rain again, but the lead singer said that it only made things better!

Biffy Clyro Bangalore concert rock in India

Even though I only knew “Mountains,” “Bubbles” and their breakthrough chart single “Many of Horror,” Biffy Clyro still played a very good set

Biffy Clyro playing Bangalore concert

The mostly shirtless Scottish band truly lived up to their reputation as one of UK’s best live acts

My phone began acting up while I recorded “Many of Horror,” and I ended up losing the video. So here’s just a little bit of “Mountains”:

Biffy Clyro left the stage by around 7pm.

Metallica concert Bangalore India crowd

It was now time for the ultimate moment

But not before the crew could sweep water off the stage, set everything up and do the usual checks. During that time, a roadie came on stage, took the mic and requested the people in the front section to go back a bit. He said they had no intentions of repeating what happened in Gurgaon (the concert in New Delhi was called off the day before because apparently the crowds pressed against the barricades too hard, causing it to break).

It took some time, which wasn’t unexpected given how many people wanted to be as close to the stage as possible — and there probably wasn’t any space at the end of the section for people to go back any further. When the roadie kept repeating “You guys aren’t helping,” those around me in my section got agitated and began jeering, with some even chanting “Delhi crowd – go back!” (No offense Northern brethren, it was only for fun)

15 minutes or so later, we were ready. The stage was set. As it neared 8pm, the lights dimmed and “Ecstasy of Gold” played on the speakers! The time had come:

After opening with “Creeping Death” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” James Hetfield got everybody fist-pumping again with “Fuel“. Metallica’s 80’s hits “Ride the Lightning” and “Fade to Black” followed.

Metallica James Hetfield screen Bangalore concert

James then asked the audience if anybody bought Metallica’s last studio album ‘Death Magnetic,’ to which a good chunk of the audience responded to with a “yeah!/yes!/yup!/illegally downloaded!/wooh!” (Hey, at least he didn’t bring up ‘St. Anger‘).

“Cyanide” from DM was succeeded by the hugely popular “Memory Remains,” which saw the crowd sing along for quite some time even after the song ended. “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” followed, after which James spoke again before going into one of Metallica’s most popular songs:

All Nightmare Long” was another song from Death Magnetic Metallica played. Then, every fan knew what came next when the lights dimmed and machine gun fire came out the speakers:

After two hugely popular numbers, the band returned to …And Justice for All with “Blackened“.

Metallica Lars Ulrich Bangalore concert

Then came the big two:

The band all waved to the fans and walked off the stage. Everybody knew the show wasn’t over, but still chanted “We want more!”

Metallica returned to the stage for the encore and paid tribute to Diamond  Head with their cover of “Am I Evil?,” from their covers album Garage Inc.

Metallica members on screen Bangalore concert

Metallica Bangalore concert crazy fan India

It was a joy to watch this North Easterner who was head-banging like crazy… and then attempted to crowd surf. Guess how that ended! :)

“Battery” from Master of Puppets was the second last song on the set list. James spoke some more before closing out the night with the final song — “Seek and Destroy” from Kill ‘Em All.

Metallica Bangalore concert India

Aside from our tri-colour flag, Malaysian, Croatian(!) and other flags were being waved about

The band members – James, Kirk, Lars and Rob – all came forward, waved to everybody, spoke on the mic… and then gave away a shit load of guitar picks and drum sticks!

We left the (now even muddier) grounds very satisfied after a 2 hour show.

Metallica Bangalore concert crowd leaving

The ‘Black army’ of well over 25,000 slowly leave Palace Grounds

The show did have its share of minor technical issues (DNA, I mean actual glitches). The speaker in front of us did lose sound for a song and half, and the middle screen flickered occasionally. But all-in-all, I don’t think any of us had any regrets spending Rs. 2750 ($56) to see Metallica. James Hetfield sounded amazing, Kirk Hammett’s guitar solos were jaw-dropping, Rob Trujillo is a beast on bass, and Lars Ulrich really does stand and pound the drums! Seeing all that made it well worth the wait.

Technically, the Bangalore gig wasn’t supposed to be Metallica’s first performance in India. That privilege went to Delhi as part of the inaugural F1 Rocks for the 2011 Indian Grand Prix. Some in attendance went online and stated that it was a ‘racist’ roadie who riled up the audience when the people in front wouldn’t move back from the barricades as it was giving in. Others blame the organizers for the fiasco. Watching this video, in my opinion, what ultimately nailed the coffin on the Gurgaon show were the idiots who went on stage and started trashing it!

I was really shocked on Friday night when I heard, what was to be the ‘Metallica’s first concert in India,’ was cancelled! It was embarrassing. Sure, I can talk about how much “better” the Bangalore crowd is, but at the day, the international news headlines stated “in India” — and it got a lot of international press!

Which is why I was glad the Bangalore concert was a successful one without any major issues. I don’t think anybody attending wanted to risk any chance of cancellation of the only other show in India!

But that sense of satisfaction didn’t last very long. A few days later, news broke of a few who had their belongings stolen from the venue! A Malaysian couple who came all the way just to see Metallica play apparently found out their bags were robbed of their passport and money. I can’t imagine how badly their night ended after how good a time the rest of us had!

In DNA’s defense, it was very clearly mentioned behind the ticket that bags (I’m talking about the backpack variety) are not allowed inside the venue. 99% of crowd came without bags. But the few who came with bags had to leave them at some unsecured spot which was accessible to low-life loiterers from outside who had no clue even what somebody else’s passport is worth! But at the end of the day, those who lost their valuables blamed the organizers. Naturally.

Putting myself in DNA’s shoes, I can imagine the headache of organizing a concert of such scale in India. First, there’s the logistics of it all, but the worst part is dealing with:

a) the worthless public officials from whom the organizers need to get clearances from, and you just know bribes are involved

b) the concert crowd themselves

During the show in Bangalore, there were a few idiots who climbed up the scaffolding in front of us to get a better view. Did the thought that it’s dangerous to do so ever cross their minds? Yes, they were brought down swiftly by a policeman and a DNA staff, but why do they need to be told so? After paying Rs. 2750, did they feel it entitled them to do whatever they felt like, even if it meant compromising the safety of everybody else around them?

Friends of mine (not in my group) who showed up to the venue a bit late told me after the concert how a cop manning the front section told them he wouldn’t allow them in as there were already too many people inside. So how did they manage to get past that? They paid the cop Rs. 500, and he let them get closer to the stage.

Now who are you going to blame? DNA Networks? The Metallica roadie who supposedly hurled abuses at the crowd because there were just too many people pressing up against the barricades? No point blaming the authorities when the people are no better.

There’s a reason why Metallica would be especially concerned over crowd safety. The Gurgaon incident isn’t the first ‘riot’ to ever break out at a Metallica gig. Shit has happened at Metallica gigs before, but it’s not always the band to blame. They still have to play it safe because the next day, it’s their name that makes the headlines.

In some ways, it comes with the territory. Heavy metal fans can get aggressive very easily. Mix alcohol to that, and you just make it even easier. Which is why I was glad DNA chose not to sell alcohol inside the venue despite the concert being sponsored by a vodka brand. Things could have gotten much worse if they had.

Despite the many event promoters entering the Indian gig scene, we still have a long way to go. There are still many world famous bands with a huge fanbase in India who are yet to play here (Green Day, Link Park, Bon Jovi, U2 etc, just to name a few). Sure, we may not have a venue like Madison Square Garden or an O2 Arena, but understand one thing — if we did, the tickets wouldn’t have cost Rs. 2750 ($56). India still pays far less for a ticket compared to developed markets. In some ways, I’m cool with that. I only need the band, good sound and clear screens.

I come for the music — nothing else matters.


13
Apr 11

Coldplayer – Live in Bangalore, India (Coldplay tribute concert)

Date: 03/04/2011

After concerts by Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd tribute acts, it was a time for another tribute concert organized by Gigbox. But this time, it was for a far more recent band — Coldplay.

If you are wondering “why Coldplay?,” well then, you probably aren’t aware of the slew of hits the British Band have produced since 2000. Coldplay (and Linkin Park) are undoubtedly two of the biggest bands to come out of the 2000s, and both are still going strong. Sales in excess of 50 million worldwide and hit singles from four studio albums — that is enough material for a tribute band to play in Coldplay’s honour.

Coldplayer Gigbox concert stage instruments

I wasn’t expecting as many people as there were for the Breathe – The Floyd Sound concert, simply because Coldplay’s fanbase isn’t as big as a legendary band as Pink Floyd. Plus, April 2nd was the Cricket World Cup finals which India won, so most of the city was still reeling in the joy (and hangover) of last night’s match.

But being a massive Coldplay fan, there was no way I was going to miss this show.

The opening act was American solo artist Thom Chackon.

Thom Chackon singer concert Bangalore India

His music was mostly acoustic fare with a country vibe

Here’s a video of some songs he performed:

Thom Chackon performing Bangalore India

Thom Chackon performed a good 6 to 7 songs

Once Thom Chackon left, it wasn’t a long wait before Coldplayer hit the stage.

Coldplayer Gigbox concert sponsors

And they kicked things off with…

After “Politik,” the opening track from A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), next came:

I didn’t record “Violet Hill” in full because I needed to conserve space on my camera memory card.

Coldplayer band performing Bangalore

The band were dressed similar to how Coldplay dressed for the Viva La Vida tour

One of Coldpay’s greatest songs – “Clocks”

More songs from A Rush of Blood to the Head (“In My Place” & “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face”)

Coldplayer Seth Reuben lead vocalist Bangalore concert

Lead vocalist Seth Reuben, who does a really good Chris Martin

“Trouble” and “Strawberry Swing”

(“Strawberry Swing” was performed two tracks later actually)

Coldplayer Gareth Whiteside guitarist Craig Johnson bassist Bangalore India concert

Gareth Whiteside on guitars; bassist Craig Johnson

Coldplayer drummer Jacob King Bangalore India concert UB city

Jacob King

Moving on to my favourite Coldplay album, X & Y (2005)…

Coldplayer Gigbox concert band membersColdplayer Bangalore India concert UB City

Coldplay’s epic “Fix You” (followed by “Talk”)

Coldplayer Seth Reuben Chris Martin lookalike lead vocalist hand

Coldplayer Seth Reuben lead vocalist Chris Martin wink

Seth doing his best Thom Yorke impression

Coldplayer Seth Reuben doppelganger look alikeColdplayer Gigbox concert Bangalore UB City concert

And then, the song everybody knew (most of) the words to…

My card got full halfway through the song and had to swap the second one in, thus the break in recording. No worries… as you’ll see down below :)

The band then left the stage after “Yellow,” which didn’t imply the show was over. There was no way a Coldplay tribute act was going to end a show in 2011 without playing “Viva La Vida“.

Come back on stage they did. Now, it was time for a break in pace and some acoustic fare.
Coldplayer acoustic performance Bangalore

Besides “Don’t Panic,” they also sang “Green Eyes” and one other song which I wasn’t too familiar with.

Coldplayer Seth Reuben lead vocalist Chris Martin look alike

“The Hardest Part/Postcards from Far Away” and that song which is now a Coldplay anthem…

Coldplayer stage light fog machine BangaloreColdplayer Mam agencyFrom Vida or Death and All His Friends, they played “Lost,” “Strawberry Swing” and this:

Coldplayer Gigbox concert inspection

Hmmmm...

Coldplayer Gareth guitarist Craig bassist concert performanceColdplayer Gareth Craig Seth performance Bangalore concertColdplayer band singing Bangalore concert IndiaColdplayer then performed the final song in their setlist…

 

But since the awesome crowd asked for more…

Coldplayer Gigbox concert band members talking

The band decide which tracks to perform (either that or they wondered what was for dinner)

“Life in Technicolor II” (from the Prospekt’s March EP)

“Shivers” (from Parachutes)

For the final song of the night, since the reception this song got the first time was so good, Coldplayer ended their gig with an encore performance of Coldplay’s first hit single:

With that, Coldplayer bowed to the audience and finally left the stage — this time for real.

Coldplayer Bangalore India concert endColdplayer band bowing concert end

Coldplayer band Gigbox concert leaving stage

Seth: "Smell my armpit before you go, will ya mate?"

Gigbox’s third concert was yet another stellar show. Sure, the UB City amphitheatre wasn’t as packed as it was for Breathe – The Floyd Sound, but you really can’t compare the fanbase Pink Floyd has in the city to Coldplay. The crowd was a lot younger this time and as you heard from the videos, they were very receptive.

Coldplayer concert crowd Nithin Divakaran

My brother (extreme right) and his friends surely enjoyed it

Coldplayer concert Gigbox crew

The folks at Gigbox who put on the show

So after tribute acts for Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Coldplay… who is next?

Ireland’s biggest musical export — U2, played tribute by U2UK. May 7th, see you there :)


03
Mar 11

Breathe – The Floyd Sound, (Pink Floyd tribute concert) Live in Bangalore (India)

Date: 26/01/2011

After the introductory gig by Led Zepplica held by Gigbox at UB City last month, next up was a tribute to another legendary band in the world of music — Pink Floyd.

The band doing the honours was British act Breathe – The Floyd Sound. Apparently, this wasn’t their first time in India. Looking at their past gigs, Breathe – The Floyd Sound has toured India every year since 2008 — mostly doing college festivals and clubs. Hey, you got to start somewhere right?

The concert venue was the same,  the UB City Amphitheatre.

Breathe the Floyd Sound Bangalore concert crowds

There was quite a crowd (Photograph by Loiyumba)

Breathe Pink Floyd concert flying pig Bangalore

I love that they had this pig up in the sky (Check out the album cover of 'Animals' if you don't get the referance)

Breathe the Floyd Sound UB city amphitheatre crowds

Given the popularity of Pink Floyd in India, I wasn't surprised to see a lot more people turn up for this gig (Photograph by Loiyumba)

Gigbox concert Ducati bikes display

Ducati were one of the sponsors (Photograph by Loiyumba)

Dark Side of the Moon laptop wallpaper

The sound engineer was in the right frame of mind

UB City Bangalore towerPrestige UB City tree plant

Breathe Pink Floyd concert backdrop UB city

With the sun set, it was time to set the stage & check the lights

Breathe Pink Floyd Dark Side concert backdrop

The show began with the opening act — rajeev’s Wolfpack.

Rajeev's Wolfpack rock band Bangalore

The lead singer is Rajeev... so I guess that makes the rest his Wolfpack

Rajeev's Wolfpack opening act Bangalore

They performed at the Led Zepplica gig as well. Doing mostly covers of U2 songs.

Rajeev's Wolfpack UB City Bangalore concert

They did play a few of their own compositions this time though

Rajeevs Wolfpack UB city Bangalore

Before ending their set with The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 miles)"

As it neared 8pm,  Breathe – The Floyd Sound finally hit the stage.

Breathe the Floyd Sound Bangalore concert entering stage

And they kicked off with...

Then followed it up with:
“Time”

“Money”

I didn’t record every song in full and I don’t remember the exact sequence, but here are some of the songs myself & Loiyumba did record:

“Hey You”

Breathe the Floyd Sound tree night visual backdrop

“Brain Damage”

“Breathe”

After going through classics from ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ they performed tracks from the Syd Barrett-era.

Syd Barrett Bangalore Pink Floyd tribute concert backdrop

The late Syd Barrett, former front man of Pink Floyd

Breathe the Floyd Sound Syd Barrett tribute

They even performed "Arnold Layne," Pink Floyd's very first single

“Sorrow” (the only song they played from Momentary Lapse of Reason)

Breathe the Floyd Sound Bangalore concert Dave Gee

On drums, Dave Gee

Breathe the Floyd Sound band members

Keyboards: Joel Anderson

“Shine On You Crazy Diamond”

Breathe the Floyd Sound Bangalore concert lead vocalist

Lead vocals & guitar: Chris Barnes

“One of These Days”

Breathe the Floyd Sound Bangalore concert bassist

Bassist Peter Worley

The one song every Bangalorean was waiting to sing along to…

Breathe the Floyd Sound Bangalore concert lead guitarist

On lead guitars, Andy Fenton. He did an impeccable job recreating Pink Floyd's guitar sounds!

Band introductions and ‘thank you’s… and “Wish You Were Here”

“Run Like Hell”

Breathe the Floyd Sound ended the night with one of the greatest rock songs ever…

Unfortunately, my camera battery signalled that it was about to die. Which is why I ended up recording the final performance of the night on my phone.

Breathe the Floyd Sound Bangalore concert end

With that, the Pink Floyd tribute concert came to an end

As was the case with the Led Zepplica gig last month, I’ll never get to see the real Pink Floyd play live. Apart from old age, the relationship between David Gilmour and Roger Waters is still a strained one. Heck, and I’m a guy who can just do with David Gilmour! (Sorry Roger Waters fans, he sounds terrible now — and I rate David Gilmour to be the better guitarist)

None the less, this was another great tribute concert from Gigbox. The crowd was better — except for the idiots who expected everyone to sit down for a rock concert — and there were no sound issues this time around. I wonder who they plan on bringing next.

Might I make a recommendation?

Steel Panther rock band

These guys!

If you haven’t heard of Steel Panther, you should! They’re freakin’ AWESOME and bloody hilarious! Just read their bios! :)

If you haven’t figured out from the spandex and hair,  Steel Panther plays tribute to 80’s rock.  From Bon Jovi, Poison, Van Halen, Def Leppard (mine & the lead vocalist’s favourite band) to Journey, Whitesnake, Guns ‘n’ Roses, and… Backstreet Boys?

Not only so they do awesome covers, in 2009 they released their own album called Feel the Steel. This was their first single off the album:

Other good songs are “Community Property” and my favourite, “Party All Day“. I’d love to see them live in Bangalore performing 80’s greatest rock hits! But I’m not sure their humour will appeal to everybody (conservative women, parents who thought it was a smart idea to bring their kids to a rock concert, guys who don’t get sarcasm, etc.)

These guys have balls… they went to Tokyo and performed a song called “Asian Hooker“!

 

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