Sunday, November 15, 2009

Live Review - Metallica @ MSG

It has been 11 years since Metallica has headlined a concert at Madison Square Garden. In that span of over a decade they have released two studio records, lost Jason Newsted on bass, gained Rob Trujillo on bass, fought Napster, fought themselves, fought addiction, had a few kids, released an amazing documentary, fired Bob Rock, re-hired Bob Rock, fired Bob Rock again, hired Rick Rubin, and got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With all of this change, they still remained constant to the one thing that has pulled them along for three decades, the commitment to their fans and to making music. Just two weeks after playing a special Rock and Roll Hall of Fame showcase at MSG, the San Fransisco heavyweights returned for back to back sold out concerts at the world's most famous arena.
Opening with "That Was Just Your Life," from the band's latest Death Magnetic, the energy exerted from the crowd and onto Metallica and vice-versa never let up all night. The pit around the stage looked like a California Earthquake on how the crowd was erupting to see their hero's. The stage which was a rectangle set in the center of the arena, had mic's around the perimeter and drummer Lars Ulrich perched in the center. Ulrich would become my favorite part of the show, watching him jump from his drum riser and spit into the audience, throwing his arms in the air, he looked like Russel Crowe in Gladiator, instead of throwing swords it was his drumsticks, I was just waiting for him to scream "Are You Not Entertained?" at the top of his lungs. With singer James Hetfield running around from mic to mic, guitarist Kirk Hammet shredding his axe like a wolverine and Trujillo creepy-crawling on stage like a rabid gorilla, Metallica made their performance interactive and engaging. Backed by a laser light show that would rival most European discotheques and a lighting grid made from caskets reminiscent of the cover of Death Magnetic, Metallica were not just putting on a concert and performance, they were ready for a spectacle. Not to mention the pyro that famously wounded Hetfield in the early 90's was all there, setting the stage ablaze and creating a full on war zone. Seeing the band twice before at Giants Stadium, last night was the most engaging and fun I have seen the metal vets have. It was an interesting set list, playing a majority of songs from Death Magnetic, which many like "The Day That Never Comes," "All Nightmare Long," and "The End of the Line," sound much better live. While the show concentrated mainly on the new, the songs fit in well with the classics's, songs like "One," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," and "Master of Puppets," were show stopping favorites. What was noticeably absent was modern classics like "Fuel," "Memory Remains," and I have to say, it would have been kind of fun to hear "St. Anger," granted the album was a disappointment, that song is great.
After the band's two hour set, I have come to realize seeing Metallica is not like seeing most bands. Seeing Metallica is like seeing a good summer blockbuster at the movies. A good blockbuster in the vein of those directed by Steven Spielberg or JJ Abrams not the cheesy ones directed by Roland Emmerich. It is quite the experience watching them and seeing that after all these years they have enough gas to keep their engine running, and that their audience is a mix of father and sons and buddies going out to fuel the band's fire.

Metallica Set List 11/14/09 Madison Square Garden

That Was Just Your Life
The End Of The Line
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Holier Than Thou
Broken, Beat And Scarred
Sad But True
Turn The Page
All Nightmare Long
The Day That Never Comes
Master Of Puppets
Fight Fire With Fire
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Seek and Destroy