After nine studio albums, three bassists, two live albums, one EP and in my case 18 years of waiting, I finally saw Metallica live. It was worth the wait.
Through a work connection I managed to score box seats at the Gaylord Entertainment Center, in downtown Nashville, Tennesse. Contrary to popular belief Nashville is not a solely country music town. The music scene is thriving with a diverse number of artistes making it, a necessary stop on their tour. I wasn`t front and centre with Metallica sweating on me, but I could see and hear them clearly and that`s pretty much all that mattered to me.
The opening act was Godsmack, a hard rock quartet, probably most famous for, I stand Alone, from The Scorpion King soundtrack. That I didn`t really care about one way or another so we got there a little late and by the time we`d gotten the over-priced beer and found our seats they were just finishing up their set.
The show was in the round, meaning no matter where you`re seated in the venue you could see the band. The centre of the stage was also a massive rotating platform which allowed you to see the only fixed member of the band, drummer Lars Ulrich, front and centre at some point during their two-and-a-half-hour set.
The stage management was mind-blowing, considering the stage consisted of a pair of elevated platforms on a moving rotunda. Housed under these platforms were the sound, guitar, video and effects techs who managed the ten mikes and multiple distortion pedals located all over the stage, organised the guitar swaps between songs, directed and edited the output of the multiple fixed cameras that peppered the stage and executed the flames and explosions at appropriate times. The sound was kind of flaky for the first three songs; but I`ve realised, at the Gaylord at least, it takes that long for the sound engineers to compensate and balance for acoustics and the crowd. But once that was settled, the sound was perfect.
Metallica performed something off every album, starting with Blackened to a final encore of Seek and Destroy. They covered a lot of favourites in between, not limited to Call of Ktulu (which front man James Hatfield said they hadn`t played live in a long time), Sandman, One, Fuel, The Four Horsemen, Nothing Really Matters and Master of Puppets. New bassist Robert Trujillo also unleashed a classic rendition of (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth that was an homage to original bassist Cliff Burton, who died before the band hit their peak. Metallica known for the epic and hectic touring schedule have been on the road, worldwide on The Madly in Anger with the World Tour since May 2003. The tour continues in the US until December.
The band also promised a different set list at every show and diehard fans can buy copies of the live shows they desire as Metallica has started following in the footsteps of other artistes by offering authorised copies of their live recording on their website.
I had my issues with the band-specifically with the Napster debacle-and wasn`t singularly impressed with the new offering St Anger, but after last night`s performance I can forgive them almost any transgression. The show was engrossing and impressive; to have an arena full of multi-generational fans-the new young Metallica fans and the diehards who`ve been listening since the band formed in 1981-on their feet, entertained and enthralled for over two hours is no easy feat. Metallica sets the standard for a live show. It`s not about the pyrotechnics and videos; it about ability to entertain the fans live and for that reason, they rock!
edit; i submitted it to a paper in trinidad, so i`m posting the version that will hopefully appear there.