A dream come true for any serious minded metal fan, yet tonight's gig was kept such a secret that punters remained milling around the Charing Cross Road thinking that only headliners METAL CHURCH would be worth seeing.
The roar that greeted guitarist Kirk Hammett's arrival on-stage was almost deafening as a still only half-full Marquee realised exactly who it was that was playing the support slot, only to be drowned out by the band themselves as they struck the opening chords of Creeping Death.
The sound was appalling and much of Hetfield's vocals were lost in the mix, but that didn't seem to bother anyone watching. In all honesty METALLICA could have been bloody awful and no one would have cared. Here they were at the Marquee and that was all that mattered.
But METALLICA being the band they are were truly magnificent. The sound sorted itself out by the time For Whom The Bell Tolls came rumbling out of the speakers and the crowd revelled in the likes of Sanitarium, Harvester of Sorrow, No Remorse, Four Horsemen, and The Shortest Straw.
Lars Ulrich's powerful drumming proved to be the highlight, his massive kit (adorned with the Danish flag) dwarfing that of his METAL CHURCH counterpart. But one of the major surprises was the band's apparent maturity. No longer an untamed thrash band but a mighty heavy metal band with so much to offer.
Even tonight, with the chance for a bit of larking about, METALLICA were nothing short of awesome. Not so po-faced either. They were really enjoying it up there. Indeed, I don't think I've ever seen Hetfield smile so much, but no one was smiling as much as the delighted audience who had the time of their lives.
Quite how METAL CHURCH could have followed this I don't know, but it's a credit to a band of METALLICA's stature that they're prepared to play a gig like this. METALLICA are masters of an at times overblown genre, but they keep it at street level where it thrives best. Without a doubt they are as important to heavy metal in 1990 as MOTORHEAD were in 1980, and tonight's gig was evidence enough of that.