rock-o-the-northAre you an all rounder or do you like it in your face? Do you like your gigs with a hard centre or a focal point?

Does a stage in the middle fail to hit the heights? Or is it time rock and metal bands came full circle?

Metallica’s decision to play ‘in the round’ has divided opinion on the visually stunning Death Magnetic tour but what’s not to like?

Is it the great view for every paying customer? Remember standing at the back at Green Day or the Foos and watching everything unfold on a giant screen as the dots that were the musos shuffled from side to side?

Is it the laser and light show which surrounded the band, lit up the audience and picked out every corner of the Metro Radio Arena? How many gigs have you been to where the lights disappeared backstage, never stretched beyond the first 10 rows or simply lacked the space to truly sparkle?

Or is it the fact that nobody is allowed to hide and every band member is forced to up his energy levels and his game with critics watching from every possible angle every minute of the show? We can all recount tales of end-on stages giving lazy musos the opportunity for a sharp exit and a convenient sanctuary from the baying crowd.

But what was best about Tuesday night’s Newcastle show was the fact that Metallica transformed the Metro Radio Arena into an intimate club setting where every punter felt part of the action and every fan could claim full value.

So there weren’t the giant mosh pits which developed in front of Slipknot’s end-on stage before Christmas during their set and that of support act Machine Head.

The Head still managed to create some mini pits on Tuesday but the fact that so few materialised during Metallica’s set was more down to the fact that this was a crowd which desperately wanted to see the show – more than they wanted to lose themselves in a sea of rabid emotion,.

But that’s Ok by me. And it was seemingly Ok with the majority of fans who simply stood back and enjoyed the opportunity to get up close and personal with a world-class act in an arena environment.

I remember watching Metallica in the round at Newcastle 13 years ago and I’d seen Def Leppard do the same at Sheffield Arena around about the time of the Adrenalize tour.

Back then I thought such shows would become the norm. Why they haven’t taken off inside the world’s enormodomes is anyone’s guess.

We all see plenty of shows in Academy-size venues where the band play on a front-facing stage and the sets go down a storm. But why stick to that formulaic tradition in venues which afford the opportunity for so much more?

It’s easy to do what everyone else does. But then that’s never been Metallica’s way and hopefully it never will be.