I’ve been going to see Metallica in concert for 22 years. The first time I saw them was back in 1986 supporting Ozzy. It was a life changing experience. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe what that show meant to me, so again, the words ‘life changing’ will have to suffice.
That concert, the vibe of the band was inescapable. Even in an arena setting the band on stage meant business, it was felt in their delivery and it was a feeling I’ll never forget.
Over the next 11 years I’m sure I saw them at least twenty times. 1988’s Monsters Of Rock, ‘…And Justice For All’, shit I probably saw them seven or eight times just during the ‘Black’ album years (including ‘Live Shit’ era).
The last time I saw Metallica was back in February of 1997. They were touring in support of the ‘Load’ album and at the time I (of course) hated the record…but was still of the mindset that no matter what the recorded output…Metallica live was untouchable. I had the ticket stubs to prove it! I remember being one of “those guys” where I’d tell people who cares about the new album, you have to SEE them!
That gig was the first Metallica concert I ever left early. I hated everything about that show. I don’t want to get into it, but there was not one thing that connected Metallica 96/97 to the band I first saw in 1986. The feeling, the power, the vibe and the connection was gone. I remember looking around at some of the people there and felt bad for them. “This” wasn’t going to change anyone’s lives.
So I took a “live” Metalli-Sabbatical and it lasted, 11 years.
We fast forward to 2008 and many things have seemed to align. Of all of them the most important would have to be the release of ‘Death Magnetic’. To date I have read only 2 reviews of the album. I have seen at least forty to fifty available to read, but there’s no need to. I don’t care what you or anyone thinks about it. It was never going to sway my opinion one way or another, so why bother? I think the album is kick ass.
Another alignment would be the inclusion of my friends Machine Head to the Metalli-Party. This is a huge thing for the band, especially in the US, and when they were asked to step in for two shows at The Forum in Los Angeles, well I was already on my way!
The first show on December 17th was a mixture of sweet and sour and while it ultimately ended up pretty sweet it was a show that, for me never really took off. I was preoccupied with a few outside distractions and the only way to over come those were to drink away those blues and live to fight another day, right?
Thursday December 18th however was a totally different story altogether!
The show got off to a good start with the support band of the tour, The Sword. What a difference a year makes as back in 12/2007 I saw The Sword headline Reggie’s Music Room to about 95 people, a year later they were at the Forum playing to a few thousand. While the spacious venue did little to help them out, they were solid and super tight.
24 hours earlier Machine Head played their first ever show in-the-round. They played that show without a decent sound check and like myself a day earlier their set really never took off. I was hoping they’d rebound and rebound they did!
Opening with “Clenching The Fists of Dissent” it was a more confident and focused Machine Head. Their sound had improved tenfold and song after song both the band and crowd seemed to pass back and forth a higher level of energy. They worked the stage aggressively from the first note until the last and it made all the difference.
“Imperium”, “Halo”, and a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name” all followed and for those 45 minutes on Metallica’s vast stage, it was a Machine Head show. “Davidian” was the final song of the night as well as the final song of 2008 for the band. Another solid year of touring over and it was party time!
Metallica took the stage surrounded by a rather cool arena rock laser show and blasted into ‘Death Magnetic’s’ opener “That Was Just Your Life”. From the first note I knew this was not the band I had drifted away from a decade earlier. There was something so apparently different, I could do nothing but stare in amazement, stopping only to bang thy head!
The balance of new stuff and classic Metallica was simply impossible to not enjoy. I’d go as far to say ‘Death Magnetic’ material was even better live…and that’s saying a lot as I really enjoy the recorded versions.
We got “The End of the Line” and the blistering “Broken, Beat & Scarred” right next to “Ride The Lightning” and “The Four Horsemen”.
Now without the full on aggression I was witness to, those old songs mean nothing. I saw plenty of old songs being performed by a tired and color-by-numbers Metallica throughout the years (‘Cunning Stunts’ anyone?) and this was a complete 180. James Hetfield had that fire in his eyes again and it was up to the other three to keep up with him!
Here’s the set list from the second show:
That Was Just Your Life
The End of the Line
The Four Horsemen
Ride The Lightning
Broken, Beat & Scarred
Sad But True
Wherever I May Roam
All Nightmare Long
Kirk Solo #1
The Day That Never Comes
Master Of Puppets
Fight Fire With Fire
Kirk Solo #2
Nothing Else Matters
Seek and Destroy
So there you go. The shows were a blast, the after parties were a blur and I met so many fucking cool people at these shows, it was a trip. Many, many thanks to my crue of misfits, alcoholics, musicians and Hollywood Goalies that I am proud as fuck to call my friends!