October 25, 2007
The Sprint Center
Better Than: Harptallica, the Metallica tribute duo consisting of two female harpists.
By PETER RUGG
I can’t be certain until I make a few calls, but it’s doubtful hospice centers keep statistics on their patient’s disposition shortly before death. Still, there are certain stories about the last weeks of a loved one that are repeated often enough they bear some attention, and one of those is of the father, or wife, or brother, who experiences a sudden resurgence in health and disposition just before they go. This understandably makes the death harder for people to accept, though in retrospect they say it’s the last good chance to say goodbye.
I hope I’m wrong, but it felt like Saturday night was a good time to make peace with Metallica.
They started the show with a the same two songs as their new album and I don’t think it would’ve been bad for them to keep going and play the whole thing at a breakneck pace, but it was still a good feeling to get punched in the gut by "Ride the Lightning" and "One" again. I don’t think anybody will argue the biggest reactions were for "Master of Puppets," which got more lighters and cell phones waving than the ballads did, and "Enter Sandman."
Unfortunately, the floor was surprisingly thin – maybe due to the cost of the tickets – and if a pit did break out, it wasn’t on the same side of the stage as me. As long as we’re on the stage, I should mention that it was a monstrosity not unlike the top decks of an aircraft carrier, presumably designed (1) so the band could interact with larger parts of the audience better and more often, and (2) to hide all the pyrotechnics necessary for you who think "Fight Fire With Fire" is just too subtle. It may have also been designed solely for the 30-foot-long silver coffins hung above the stage and rigged with the bulk of the show's lighting.
Ever since Load came out I’ve been one of those cliché fans that met each new record with an equal mix of hope and loathing, and happily dug Death Magnetic. This made me all the happier that they ignored most of that output, playing only Until It Sleeps and making it sound much better than I remember it sounding on my car stereo.
So, here’s a band that could, legitimately, go down in history, considered on the same level as Led Zeppelin, without a single musician approaching the chops of one member of that hammer of the Gods. Saturday night both reminded and impressed me of how much they make of the workingman’s prowess that each member brings to the group, with the exception of the technically superior Hammet.
A line like What don’t kill ya, make ya more strong rots on the page, but coming out of Hetfield’s mouth it sounds righteous. Trujillo could be all the visual effect the band needs the way he creeps around stage with his bass on one knee and stringy black hair hanging in his face. These guys know what they’re doing, and it shows, and no one walked out of the Sprint Center sorry they bought a ticket.
Unfortunately, it’s that professionalism that leads to the decay of all that good Kill ‘Em All tension. This was the first time I could clearly picture any of these guys as old men. The strumming arms are still ripped, but you can see the paunches now, and the thinning hair, and as well as they play together and seem to be having fun, the effortlessness robbed the show of any of the urgency especially needed in a metal band. A really great rock show should give you such a sense of such intense pressure that you suspect the whole damn thing could fall apart at any second. Lars could send his drumstick into the snare and dive into the crowd. With the floating coffins, the pyro, and the arena rock laser show, you just know they wouldn’t abandon stage and risk violating some clause on the tour rider.
Godspeed, Metallica. I hope you make it my way again. If you don’t, we’re still cool.
That Was Just Your Life
The End of the Line
Harvester of Sorrow
Ride the Lightning
Broken, Beat And Scarred
Sad But True
Until It Sleeps
Wherever I May Roam
The Day That Never Comes
Master Of Puppets
Fight Fire With Fire
Nothing Else Matters
Seek and Destroy
Personal bias: When I got married, we used Master of Puppets to introduce the wedding party.
Your correspondent accosted at the urinal: “I know it’s against the rules to talk to you right now, man, but I’ve seen Metallica 12 fucking times. 12 fucking rocks! It is fucking rock tonight, you have no idea! You just don’t know! I ain’t in this for man-penis I just love Metallica.”
By the Way: They could take something from Down, who opened the show. I never thought they sounded that much different from Phil Anselmo’s old band (Pantera) except without the virtuoso guitar work, and they won’t compete with Metallica;s musicianship without some serious wood shedding. But Anselmo worked his ass off selling it to the crowd.