By Martin Cizmar
It’s not often that a band’s only top 10 hit is the low point at a concert – let alone by a band that’s been around 25 plus years and released 40 plus singles – but that’s exactly what happened Tuesday night in Glendale.
Metallica played an exceptional three-hour set to open their North American tour. A not quite sellout crowd banged away to songs from their new album, Death Magnetic and from their early days, but you could almost feel the sigh when the band played “Until It Sleeps,” the 1996 single that made it all the way to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, alienating the band’s hardcore fans along the way. The despair didn’t last long – Kill ‘Em All trasher “The Four Horsemen” was next up.
Playing to a heavily male crowd, many of them wearing Metallica shirts of various vintages – truly, Metallica shows are one of the few concerts where you can rep for the headlining band, contrary to Jeremy Piven’s advice in PCU – the band used a unique center stage on the floor of the arena. Like almost everything else this night, it worked well.
Swarming with an army of roadies immediately after Phil Anselmo’s band Down finished their set, the stage was soon lit up by lasers and covered in fog for Metallica’s entrance. The scenery got even better from there. During the third song, “Sad But True,” the lights mounted on custom metal coffins suspended from the rafters started a synchronized swing toward the stage. During “Wherever I May Roam” the pyrotechnics flared up, warming my face a hundred feet back. During the third encore, the best song of the night, “Seek & Destroy,” black beach balls bounced around the crowd.
Of course the lights, beach balls and fire wouldn’t have saved a slipshod performance, but James, Kirk, Lars and Robert were dead-on all night, making an amazing amount of noise for four guys while working the crowd from all angles. The crowd screamed along to “Master of Puppets,” large circles of slamdancers forming on both ends of the floor, while the brooding “Nothing Else Matters” sent a shiver up my spine. A cover of The Misfit’s “Last Caress” provided a nice change of pace from an otherwise very metallic set. “Enter Sandman” seemed to be well-received by the crowd, perhaps showing The Black Album has been re-embraced by the die-hards, though a cheesy overdub of the “Now I lay me down to sleep…” segment of the song was one of the show's few miscues. Hopefully the band can ditch it the rest of the tour, maybe giving Kirk a little more room to play.
Even with a few small hiccups, it was a great night in Glendale, a night that shows Metallica is done being the mediocre hard rock band of the Load era on, and is back to being one of the best metal acts in the world.
Set list (courtesy of Staff Writer Niki D’Andrea, who reviewed the show for Spin)
1. “That Was Just Your Life” (Death Magnetic) 2. “The End of the Line” (Death Magnetic) 3. “Sad But True” (The “Black” album) 4. “Wherever I May Roam” (The “Black” album) 5. “One” (…And Justice for All) 6. “Broken, Beat & Scarred” (Death Magnetic) 7. “Cyanide” (Death Magnetic) 8. “Frantic” (St. Anger) 9. “Until It Sleeps” (Load) 10. “The Four Horsemen” (Kill ‘Em All) 11. “The Day That Never Comes” (Death Magnetic) 12. “Master of Puppets” (Master of Puppets) 13. “Fight Fire with Fire” (Ride the Lightning) 14. “Nothing Else Matters” (The “Black” album) 15. “Enter Sandman” (The “Black” album) Encore 1: “Last Caress” (The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited; also on Garage Inc.) Encore 2: “So What” (Garage Inc.) Encore 3: “Seek & Destroy” (Kill ‘Em All)