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PukkelPop Festival, Hasselt, Belgium 22nd August 1997

 

 

PukkelPop Festival, Hasselt, Belgium 22nd August 1997

 

When I read a small advert in Kerrang! Regarding an excursion to Germany to see Metallica at the Blind Mans Ball, I signed up straight away.  The fixture was soon changed by the trip organisers when Metallica were confirmed as the headliners for the last night of the Reading Festival.  This would give hardcore fans the chance to see Met in Belgium on the Friday night (as opposed to Saturday in Germany) and travel back in time to see the last day of Reading.

The group making the trip were a mixture of hardcore Met fans as well as some intent on consuming copious amounts of drink, drugs and hitting the Red Lights of Brussels.  Horses for courses I guess. I was nervous as I was about to lose my Euro-Fest virginity.

The trip was well organised as it gave us patrons the chance of a free night in nearby Brussels where we were staying before hitting the opening day of PukkelPop.

The main arena was flanked by a tent stage as well as a 2nd Dance tent headlined by the Chemical Bros tonight.   It was also very flat, square and bi-sected by rows of trees – pretty bland really.  This was also where I had my very first Chips n Mayo.  An artery thickening delicacy only available on the continent.  One thing that’s a nice touch at Euro fests is they reward you for picking up litter!  For every 20 or so discarded beer cups you pick up and hand in, you get a free drink!  (Kids swarming about scouring the floor looking for litter  - an idea that should be adopted at Donington to put an end to the annual bottle fight?!?! Well, maybe not!)

On the main stage today was the likes of 3 Colours Red, Dog Eat Dog, Bush & Marilyn Manson (pretty similar to the Reading line-up).  I hung around with a few of the hardcore UK fans before heading deep into fold of the crowd.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a mom and daughter combo at the front barrier which I knew would make easy, natural wastage once things got dark.  Sure enough, once The God Of Fuck hit the stage they were gone like shit off the proverbial shovel. Touch.

I managed to get a great position on the rail, right in front of Kirk.  The whole experience was overwhelming as this was the closest I’d ever been to the band.  Seeing them play in a different country was better than I thought it would be.  Knowing that I would be heading into Reading armed with this experience was going to be hardcore.

The set was a blur.  I can remember So What as the opener after a No Remorse jam and then a volley of newbies – King Nothing, Fuel (preview), Hero Of The Day and Ain’t My Bitch.  The usual suspects were in there too along with a surprise Stone Cold Crazy.  The crowd were loud but fairly calm (as I’ve found out since, the Belgians and Dutch are mad but in a friendly way and very polite!) with not too many crowd surfers.  I think Fuel was one of the high lights of this opening night.  In a way comparable to hearing 2x4 at Donington 2 years earlier.  The Memory Remains jam was also a nice touch after coming on for the encore. Not that we knew what what The Memory Remains was. Reload was still a few months away from being released.  I only realised what they played after watching the Blind Mans Ball video later that year!

When Battery fading into the night, I panicked as I wasn’t sure what time the coach was leaving to take us directly back to Calais for the ferry home. I didn’t want to leave in case we were going to be treated to another song but I’d be fucked if it went without me! I tore my self away from the main crowd and went on the search for our shuttle.

With everyone in tow, we left Belgium & PukkelPop ’97….next stop Reading Festival, UK.  The August Bank holiday was taking shape very nicely indeed.

What a way to lose your “Metallica On Tour In Europe” cherry!

 

Set

No Remorse (Jam)
So What!
Master Of Puppets
King Nothing
Sad But True
Fuel (preview)
Hero Of The Day
Ain’t My Bitch
One
Until It Sleeps
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Wherever I May Roam
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Stone Cold Crazy
Creeping Death

Battery

Cads (Good memory) 2004

 

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