kirk.jpg

Major props to tireless photographer Jenny Jimenez for this and a slew of other excellent shots from the show.

By my best estimate, I've seen

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Live Review: Metallica at Key Arena

kirk.jpg

Major props to tireless photographer Jenny Jimenez for this and a slew of other excellent shots from the show.

By my best estimate, I've seen Metallica about half a dozen times. However, I hadn't seen them in 20 years, so it felt pretty surreal going to Monday's show with my friend Andrew, who hadn't been to Metallica show even once.

As much as I wanted to see the Sword, the thought of sitting around Key Arena for 4 hours was not appealing, so we killed our pre-show time first at the Funhouse (where they were playing bluegrass versions of Metallica songs on the house system), and then at the Mecca. I'm sure the Mecca was a nightmare early in the evening, but while second opening act Lamb of God was on, the place was sparsely populated (though I did run into local promoter Kwab Copeland bellied up to the bar).

I'm beginning to think I strongly prefer two polar opposite settings for shows: either I want to be at a small, chaotic punk show or house party, or at an arena rock show. You really can't deny the delicious tension (and periodic hilarity) that comes just before the lights go down in a large venue. Invariable, some guitar tech dashes across the stage and creates a false alarm of shrieks and roars in the crowd. People actually cue up their joints, just so that they can light them the exact moment the band hits the stage. And most significantly, it just feels fucking exhilarating waiting for the moment they (ahem) hit the lights and these larger-than-life characters stride on stage.

As is apparently their custom, the band started the set off with

the first two tracks from their new album, surrounded by a gorgeous,

stuttering laser display so multi-faceted and complex, I found myself

wondering how they could even see what the hell they were doing or

avoid nightly seizures. Andrew was convinced that "Creeping Death"

wasn't going to be in the set, but he was happily proven wrong when

they launched into those classic chords immediately after "The End of

the Line."


It

must be nice to have a production budget where you can ask your

lighting designers to build gigantic custom rigs in the shape of coffins.

Such are the benefits of selling out a basketball arena to the tune of

$80 a pop. There was no skimping in the pyro department either; the

machine gunfire that opens "One" echoed around the stage as staggered

flashes of flame replicated the feeling of an exploding minefield.

Utterly awesome shit--though it was a bit disconcerting to see

stagehands running on stage with extinguishers when it became clear

things were combusting beyond their designated parameters.


Frontman

James Hetfield has always talked about how much his family means to

him, and it's pretty obvious that he's a big softy when it comes to

kids. He made a point of talking to one "little man" in the crowd,

asking him how old he was and remarking on how indisputably cool his

parents were, which was very sweet. Lars Ulrich, on the other hand, is still alternately dorky and dickish,

spitting like a cobra with overactive salivary glands and

pointing spastically at the audience after nearly every single song. He

also began dropping beats (no, not in a good way) as the show

progressed. He certainly wasn't terrible and the first half a dozen

songs were impressively tight, but dude just doesn't have the endurance

to pull off things like "Blackened" towards the end of a two-hour set.

It's understandable, but distracting if you're a fan who knows the

catalog really well.


Bassist Robert

Trujillo is solid (if strangely obsessed with keeping his bass mere

centimeters from the floor) and they are lucky to have him, but he

almost gave me a heart attack a few times when he threatened to start

soloing. Luckily, he left the late Mr. Burton's legacy untarnished. However, the big, shining star of the whole thing was hands down guitarist Kirk Hammett.

The dude is apparently frozen in time and eternally in possession of

letter-perfect technique. By the time they were wrapping things up with

"Seek and Destroy" (accessorized with a cascade of multi-sized black

balloons), I was pretty much in awe of the guy. Well done,

Metallicats--you made a lot of people obscenely happy last night.


My pen died on me part way through the set, so I might have missed something, but I think this is damn close:

That Was Just Your Life
The End of the Line
Creeping Death
Harvester of Sorrow
One
Broken, Beaten & Scarred
Sad But True
Sanitarium
Wherever I Roam
The Day That Never Comes
Master of Puppets
Blackened
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Die Die Die My Darling
Motorbreath
Seek and Destroy
 
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