By Andy Cush
The absurd happened aftermost night at MetLife Amphitheater in East Rutherford, New Jersey, aloof as it does every time Metallica arrives in any boondocks in America. After sets by two aperture bands and a DJ who broiled the army up with selections from System of a Bottomward and Motörhead, chopping and abrading Lemmy Kilmister’s articulation as if he were an East Coast hip-hop MC, the lights went down. The aerial projector screens abaft the date went up, belted on either ancillary by behemothic arching sculptural versions of the M and A from Metallica’s iconic logo. A arenaceous bristling cowboy appeared onscreen, scampering through a graveyard that bore a arresting affinity to the awning of Metallica’s 1986 third anthology Master of Puppets. Prerecorded strings began to swell. Suddenly, a amphitheater abounding of disorderly metal admirers in shorts and blow t-shirts was singing acquiescently forth to a beforehand articulate allotment that could accept calmly been pulled from a allotment of 19th-century classical music, like hooligans apprehension the world’s best developed football club.
The cine we were watching was The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. The music was “The Ecstasy of Gold,” from Ennio Morricone’s archetypal score, which Metallica has used as WWE-style access music at its shows back 1983. Best bands would attempt to alive up to such a beefy introduction, but not Metallica. Early in the night, they played “Fuel,” the third distinct from what is about admired by admirers as one of the weakest albums in their catalog. Rather than amusement the song as setlist filler, Metallica angry it into one of the bigger productions of the night, with a blinding abandoned from beforehand guitarist Kirk Hammett and pyrotechnics ample abundant to balmy the air in the bleachers erupting from every bend of the stage.
Over the abutting two hours, there were fireworks, abbreviate anecdotal films about old men and barbarous activity clubs, a apish war complete with astute helicopter complete effects. When the bandage played Master of Puppets’ about nine-minute appellation track, frontman-guitarist James Hetfield alone had to sing about bisected the words–the army abounding in the blow for him–and a huge set of easily wielding baby strings appeared aloft bagman Lars Ulrich’s head, administering the activity from above. It became bright that this was no accustomed bedrock show, with circadian apropos like dancing and addictive choruses. This was a comedy added affiliated to Wagnerian opera.
After Death Magnetic and Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, two well-received albums that followed a cord of clunkers and intra-band dysfunction, Metallica is currently benumbed added amicableness than they’ve had in years. They seemed to absolutely adore anniversary other’s aggregation onstage. Hetfield wore a covering belong and pants, attractive like the baton of a biker assemblage but battlefront off goofily ardent date badinage like a admired aerial academy teacher. Hammett, in a atramentous polka-dotted dress shirt, with his brand coiled locks starting to gray, could accept anesthetized as a Las Vegas magician. The bandage abhorred Death Magnetic material, but brindled their set with several selections from Hardwired. And admitting not every new song hit with the aforementioned force as the classics, several articulate aloof fine: “Hardwired” was a angry and aesthetic opener, and the effectively adapted “Moth Into Flame” could become a concert accoutrement on approaching tours.
Like any batter metal band, Metallica makes body-moving music. But they’re several decades removed from arena to bathed adolescence in nightclubs, and there’s article absent watching them accomplish from the stands on the added ancillary of a football field, area the abutting you can get to moshing is angrily bopping your arch in appreciation. Metallica has done an admirable job of advice their music for the stadium, however, and some of the night’s best bizarrely acute moments were acutely advised to ability the bargain seats. At one point, a set of four board bang instruments embodied onstage as if from nowhere, ample abundant to accomplish the developed men who would anon be assault on them in a campus quad-style boom amphitheater attending like baby children. Later, Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo stood toe-to-toe at the advanced of the date for some unaccompanied affiliation riffage that had no bright purpose added than the accessible amusement it was bringing to the two men agitation out together. After that, Trujillo played “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth),” a psych-wah bass abandoned that was the calling agenda of Cliff Burton, Metallica’s aboriginal low-end man. When the screens played slow-mo footage of a headbanging Burton, who died in a bout bus blow in 1986, it was abundant to briefly accord you goosebumps.
Sunday was Mother’s Day, and the army at MetLife was overwhelmingly male. I spent the final moments of the appearance analytic for metal moms who were spending their atramentous alert to thrash, and met Lisa, a mother of two developed accouchement who’s been a Metallica fan back their ‘80s heyday. “This is abundance and her father’s music,” she said, comatose at her college-aged daughter, who wore a atramentous Misfits t-shirt. “She grew up on it. That’s why we’re here.”
Hetfield fabricated assorted references amid songs to “Metallica family,” acceptation the association of admirers who’d aggregate about the apple and in the amphitheater that night. Admitting abounding of the band’s projected visuals were acutely political–Banksy-style boot soldiers with animation skulls for heads, august footage of atramentous affiliation protesters adverse off adjoin militarized anarchism cops–Hetfield fabricated bright that Metallica does not discriminate amidst its fans, no amount what adoration they chase or politicians they voted for. It acquainted at times like the bandage was aggravating to accept it both ways: adopting the angel of anti-authoritarianism while raking in money and crumbling to attack accurately with the country’s agitated politics. Metallica frequently nods and glances at big issues, but for bigger or worse, the bandage treats the depression of the apple and the depression of its music as audibly separate.
After Hetfield’s accent about the apolitical attributes of Metallica, they launched into 1984’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”–in my apprehensive opinion, the finest song in their catalog, which agency it apparently deserves a atom abreast the top of the best metal anteroom of fame. “You’re here. You’re Metallica family. Are you with us?” he asked afore they hit the song’s ample aperture riff, but he knew the crowd’s shouted acknowledgment in advance. Who could say no to that?
This column A Metallica Concert Is Like No Added Appearance on Earth aboriginal appeared on SPIN.