Metallica and Me: The Memory Remains

Malinthe Samarakoon
10 min readMar 7, 2017
James Hetfield on stage.

Metallica is my favorite band. There is no question about it. I’ve always loved what they do and I love their attitude towards music. They never really stuck to one formula, tried many new things despite much criticism in certain cases and I respect them for that (St. Anger or Lulu for example).

They’ve always been there for me with a plethora of other bands and artists through pretty much everything.

If I remember correctly, the first Metallica song I heard was “Nothing Else Matters”. It was a confusing experience. I was thinking to myself, why is this song so slow? When they said Metallica, I expected it to be rough and heavy but what I heard was something completely different. I don’t think I had internet access those days to explore their discography so that was it. I moved on to Iron Maiden by getting my hands on a A Matter of Life and Death CD and didn’t look back. The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg was my favorite track from that album. So good.

Later on, I properly listened to some Metallica songs when my brother found a DVD of them performing in South Korea. I still felt like the Americans weren’t as good as the Brits, but there was something about the performance that intrigued me. The first track, Creeping Death, sounded so different to Nothing Else Matters! Combined with the high frame rate from the video we got, and the fast paced music, the lights and the extremely enthusiastic crowd — I started getting into it.

After experiencing this insane show, soon I discovered a bunch of their music videos. I found the video for One and I loved it. I started reading about how it was made. I found out that they acquired the rights for a movie to make their video. I then found Johnny Got His Gun and watched it. I started looking for documentaries. Found more albums. Heard about Cliff’s death. Got sad. Heard about the pyrotechnics accident in ’92 during Fade to Black. Winced when we heard the guitar strings melting. Found the video for Unforgiven. Heard about Alcohollica. Saw Until It Sleeps. Thought it was surreal. Heard about S&M. Got a friend to mail me a copy of the S&M DVD. Went nuts over No Leaf Clover and the solo on Nothing Else Matters. Heard about Megadeth. Discovered Kill ’Em All.

I was a fan.

I got my dad to do a sticker cut of the Metallica logo for my PC. I still have it with me.

I remember seeing a video of them performing in Russia in 1991 and I thought it was absolutely insane. It still gets my blood pumping.

At the same time, I never thought I’d be able to see them perform in real life. It just felt like a dream that was never going to become a reality. Growing up in a conservative lower middle class background in Kandy, there was no way that I was going to fly off to some other country to see them perform. I used to have many dreams about seeing Metallica perform live. I distinctly remember one instance where they were performing in the main hall of my school — and I was extremely sad when I woke up to find that it was just a dream.

Couple of years later, I heard that Metallica was performing in India. I was happy and sad at the same time. I didn’t have the means to go there. Even if I did, I would’ve been too scared and anxious to actually go through it. But it was cool that they had come that far. India is right next to Sri Lanka, so maybe I’d have a chance someday? I do remember that they cancelled one of the two shows due to some security concern. But still.

Death Magnetic came out and I liked it. The sound quality was so annoying but I managed to find a version on Guitar Hero, which had relatively better production. It was nice. All Nightmare Long was one of my favorite tracks.

I saw the news when I was at work. I had stumbled onto Facebook to kill some time, and there it was. Metallica was going to perform in Singapore. I think I actually squealed in glee. I couldn’t stand still and I started jumping around. Then the excitement went down a bit. It was going to be expensive. Like, extremely expensive. What was I going to do?

It took a couple of days to make up my mind. I was googling for terms like “should I see my favorite band performing live?” and almost all the responses gave a resounding yes. My girlfriend and my closest friends encouraged and supported me. They told me that I’d regret it if I didn’t go through it. I felt the same way and I knew that I wanted it, despite the cost. The opportunity was presented to me and it was going to be special and I knew I had to take it and hold onto it.

And then I pulled the trigger. Tickets were purchased. The mad search for places to stay at, cheap tickets and plans for the rest of the days. I couldn’t find any friends to go with me due to the high cost of the whole ordeal, so it was going to be a solo trip. I was excited. It was going to be a mad holiday. It was going to be an adventure!

Then came the anxiety.

Anxiety is my oldest friend. Since I was a child, anxiety has been there with me. Through everything. Despite all the things that I’d experienced, it never left me and this time it was punching me even harder. Anxiety was laughing at me with its teeth glistening. Thanks to this little setback, I’d never felt comfortable about anything. I was always afraid that something would go wrong when I least expected it. I had grown to be afraid of hope. I had conditioned myself to not have hope about anything. I was always certain that something would go wrong at the last minute and everything would end up a disaster.

I started having dreams (or rather, nightmares) about going to the show and being late. Dreams about how I went to the show but didn’t remember anything. Dreams about how I was not allowed to enter. It was a bit too much. I know it sounds hilarious when I say it like that, but it really was not hilarious for me. I was thinking about all the things that could go wrong almost all the time. Fortunately, my girlfriend was there to listen to all my nightmares and tell me that it was all going to be okay, and that I’d have a great time. I tried to believe her, and tried to keep calm.

I started properly freaking out when they announced the renovations of the tarmac at BIA. This uneasy feeling was sweeping over me, telling me that my plans were going to get ruined. Thankfully, my flight wasn’t cancelled nor rescheduled so I managed to breathe a bit easily after a while.

Eventually, it was time to leave the country. Despite freaking out internally, the whole thing was rather uneventful. I even met a bunch of friends at the airport whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. The flight was smooth. I slept well. Nothing much to say there. The guy at immigration even giggled about the length of my name! So far so good.

Singapore was hot and humid. I was feeling pretty exhausted and depressed when I got to the hostel. A shower, a croissant, a really good cup of coffee and some sleep was required to get my brain to tick smoothly.

I spent the next couple of days walking around. Eating, drinking and taking pictures. Met up and caught up with some friends. Got my hands on some coffee-making gear. General funstuff.

Before I knew it, the day was upon us and I felt unusually calm. I didn’t feel anxious and I wasn’t freaking out. I put my treasured six-year old Ride The Lightning t-shirt on and I went to the stadium a few hours early, just in case. I walked through the MRT station to a throng of Metallica fans. A sea of black tshirts. Loads of ride the lightning and kill ’em all shirts. It felt oddly satisfying. Everyone seemed excited. The merchandise tent had a really long queue and there was loads of unofficial t-shirt sellers walking about. I bought some peanuts to kill the time and waited for a while.

2011–2017–6 years, riding the lightning.

Eventually I got to the entrance of our block to find a few guys waiting in line. I joined the queue, sat on the floor with them. Waiting. I watched a bit of Grand Tour while I waited, a little anxious. Last minute anxieties? I felt like my ticket would get rejected or they’d find some issue with the powerbank I had. Stupid, I know. But that’s how it usually goes. The queues grew longer and people were fired up. Random shouts and chants. The whole stadium was alive.

Seconds ticked by and it was time to enter. A quick security check, a scan of a barcode and I was in. An usher showed me where I was supposed to be and I ran to the seat I had been assigned and sat down, taking in the view. It was a surprisingly good location. I had a great view of the stage and everything. I was there. I couldn’t believe it. It was actually happening! There were no more barriers.

Everywhere I looked there was so much happiness and excitement. I grabbed a beer and watched people. Loads of selfies, loads of smiles. Some friends were already seated at another area in the stadium so I asked them to wave and jump. I think I spotted them. I saw people running into the standing pit shouting and hopping. I chuckled when I saw a t-shirt that had the words “I am so unforgiven”. A quick sound check was happening. Some techs came and played a few chords and smashed the drums and the sound hit us like a train. People went into a frenzy and I was grinning like a madman. My phone was lighting up with the comments from my friends who were there: “omg woohoo!” “farrrrkkkk”

As AC/DC’s It’s a long way to the top was coming to an end, I knew it was time. Ecstasy of Gold and the deafening roar of the fans.

And they began.


Ecstasy of Gold ended and the first bits of Hardwired started. A few more seconds in, when the giant screens showed this distorted merged face graphic from the album cover, the band members appeared on the stage and everything went berzerk. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, my hands in the air, throwing up horns. I got this really strange feeling in my stomach — I thought I was going to keel over. It was beautiful. I had been waiting for this moment all my life.

Speaking of Hardwired, it also sounded really really good. Faster than usual and much more raw and energetic. I actually like it more than the album version now. The people on the internet were right. You had to see it with your own eyes. You had to be there to take it all in.

I didn’t even have the heart to waste time on the phone taking pics or videos because it was such an amazing moment. (But I did get a few clips for my brother, who’s also a huge fan). I really wanted him to see the crazy bass slapping solo Robert did. I wanted to tell him how amazing and charismatic James was.

Songs from Hardwired went pretty cool and all, but when they played the good old classics. Man. People went absolutely nuts (including me). I was almost in tears when Wherever I May Roam started. Unforgiven, Sad But True, Master of Puppets, Fade to Black! I remembered the days sitting in front of my computer and staring at the monitor in amazement when they started playing One.


I was giggling like a little girl when Seek and Destroy came on.

“We’re scanning the scene in singapore tonight. We’re looking for you to start up a fight!”

…and then I was screaming my lungs off. Everybody was screaming their lungs off.

“Seek and destroy!”

So the train kept going. Song after song, executed to perfection. Loud as fuck — I mean really fucking loud. Dazzling visuals with crazy lighting effects and bucketloads of lasers. I was in awe.


After Seek and Destroy ended people were chanting “we want more” — and — we got more! They were back for an encore. They finished the day off with Fight Fire with Fire, Nothing Else Matters and finally, Enter Sandman.

After that the lights were back on and it was time to say goodbye.

I was happy. It was one of the best days of my whole life.

After the show, I ran to MRT station in the rain because I wasn’t sure when the trains were going to stop for the night. I got into a train that had just arrived and sat down, ears ringing and partially deaf, looking at my reflection on the window opposite me. It was such a beautiful moment that I’m still kicking myself for not taking a picture.

There we were. Five people on the same bench. Five people from various parts of the world. Sitting there after one hell of a show. All of their t-shirts bearing the name Metallica.

If your favorite band is playing somewhere and you have the means to get there and experience it, just fucking do it. You won’t regret it. Trust me.



Malinthe Samarakoon

Software Developer, Amateur Photographer. Loves Tech, Music, Movies, Food and Coffee.