The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

METALLICA
ARCO ARENA, SACRAMENTO, CA – USA


8 DECEMBER, 2009

 


By Aaron DelBono

 

I have never been a huge fan of Metallica. Some people would say they are polarizing – you love them or you hate them. I’ll admit I was blown away when I experienced “Ride The Lightning” for the first time, but the classic “Master of Puppets” and complex “…And Justice For All” weren’t life changing for me (unlike the record that introduced me to heavy metal, “Blackout” by Scorpions). Their self-titled 1991 release (aka “The Black Album”) made Metallica worldwide superstars and I was compelled to see them when they came to town in 1992. That was the last time I saw them live. The staging was great, but it was so painfully loud everything was distorted and made for a very unpleasant experience.

 


 

Fast forward to 2008 - with the release of their latest offering, “Death Magnetic”, Metallica had gone back to their roots somewhat (after a couple of “Load”s and the dreadful “St. Anger”) and embarked on their World Magnetic tour. After missing the first leg, I heard great things about the show and the setlist (a few new tracks and the rest “Black Album” & previous) so I felt it was time to give them another chance (besides the fact my wife & longtime concert buddy Evangeline - aka Evil - had never seen them). I was lucky enough to score prime reserved seats 3 rows off the floor for their return to Sacramento.


As we entered the lower bowl, we were greeted by a massive rectangular stage in the middle of the arena with several coffin-shaped lighting rigs hanging about. There were 8 vintage-style microphones set up around the perimeter of the stage, a single stack of amplifiers running through the middle, and Lars Ulrich’s drum kit right in the center on a revolving riser. Thumbing through the tour program gave us an idea of what was to come….but there were a few surprises in store for us as well. The lights went down and after a 2 minute intro, the band hit the stage and launched into ‘This Was Just Your Life’, the opening track from “Death Magnetic”, accompanied by one of the most spectacular laser light shows I have ever seen.

 


 

Such as auspicious beginning wasn’t wasted as the band kept the energy going with my favorite track from “Ride the Lightning”, ‘Creeping Death’ (15,000 people pumping their fists in unison screaming “DIE!” is rather unnerving!) followed by the only post-Black Album song in the set, ‘Fuel’. Singer/guitarist James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett & bassist Robert Trujillo spent copious amounts of energy making sure they gave all four front rows equal attention, while drummer Lars Ulrich rotated his drum riser every few songs. The remainder of the main set mixed the new (‘Cyanide’, ‘The Day That Never Comes’) with some old favorites - ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘One’, and a surprising ‘Fight Fire with Fire’ - before coming to a climax with none other than ‘Enter Sandman’.


 


Typically, I have a problem with bands that perform covers live. I don’t pay good money to hear somebody else’s songs, especially if there are favorites I haven’t heard yet. However, I make an exception for Metallica. They have recorded numerous covers throughout their career and do them very well (with the exception of Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” – incredibly bad in this reviewer’s opinion). On this night, the band chose to perform their interpretation of ‘Breadfan’ by 70s Welsh band Budgie. They then finished up the night with a double shot from their debut “Kill ‘em All” – ‘Motorbreath’ and ‘Seek & Destroy’, the latter of which featured the house lights on (so, according to James, “everyone is onstage and in the band”) and large, black inflatable balls dropped from the rafters.

 

 


Metallica treated us to an amazing, kick-ass night of heavy metal I won’t soon forget. There were some omissions (most notably ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’) and they teased me with just the intro to arguably my favorite Metallica song ‘The Frayed Ends of Sanity’, but I left quite satisfied….and fairly certain I won’t wait another 17 years to see them again.

 

 

SETLIST

This Was Just Your Life
Creeping Death
Fuel
Fade to Black
Broken, Beat & Scarred
Cyanide
Sad but True
One
All Nightmare Long
The Day That Never Comes
Master of Puppets
Fight Fire with Fire
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman

ENCORES
Breadfan
Motorbreath
Seek & Destroy