So before I get into this little music review of mine, it will come with some meaty disclaimers. And they are:
- I'm not a metal fan
- I'd hardly call myself a Metallica fan
- Truth be told, I'm a borderline music fan in general
Now that we have all that cleared up, I will continue. Heaven forbid you think that the following will be in any way thorough or authoritative. First, I will start with what I felt (note the above again), and then I will mention some of the things I heard from actual metal / Metallica fans thereafter.
We went to see Metallica perform at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood ("up to no good"), CA on Thursday, December 18th. Opening for them were The Sword and Machine Head - neither of which I have heard of (read my introduction, if you forgot already) - but we were unable to see either opening act due to the INSANE traffic to get there. If you are from Los Angeles, then you know that at 7 p.m. on a Thursday night, going South on the 405 is typically smooth sailing (for those not from the area, you'll just have to take my word for it - we're going away from traffic). But it was a fucking mess no matter where you went. I'm not sure if it was for the concert, but it felt like there was a giant butt plug clogging traffic wherever we went. When we finally got there, it seemed like just about everyone had the same situation as us, and this is what an early view of the Forum looked like:
Being an L.A. native, and having been to numerous events throughout my short life, it was shocking to see a crowd in Los Angeles this pumped up. Even on the walk into the Forum, people would just randomly scream shit left and right, which continued inside. Several chants went on before the band hit the stage, and boy (yes, boy) did the crowd make it rain noise when they got on (which was roughly 9:30 p.m.). The only thing I've ever been to that was louder in my life was when I went to see Explosions in the Sky at the Wiltern, but that band is strictly instrumental and their music is meant to invade your brain (I should also note that the noise level there was solely from the band, and not from the crowd). It was as though when Metallica hit the stage, some button labeled "Berserk" hit in everyone's brain, because that is exactly what it felt like. Once again, extremely strange to see from a crowd in L.A. (no one was drinking lattes, if you could believe that). It was also very cool to see throughout every song there was some level of crowd participation, whether it meant singing part of the chorus, some strange rhythmic chanting, or the cliche waving of lighters.
As you could see from the image above, the stage was in the center of all the seating, and they had microphones positioned on both sides (long ways), and at each corner. The setup for drummer, Mr. Lars Ulrich, was on a circular platform that rotated every once in a while during the performance. Those beams of light that you see coming down were in these motorized overhead structures that would occasionally be lowered, or bent inwards, depending on the song being played. They also had these brilliant light effects all throughout the show, with different beams shooting onto the stage and into the crowd, and some bad ass pyrotechnics; we were at least half a football field away, and when the fire came out, we could feel the heat.
Metallica surprisingly far surpassed the intensity level of the audience, including those of which were moshing on the floor. There were several times I thought to myself "holy shit, these guys are still running around at full blast" and they did not let up until they were done, which was at around 11:30 p.m. (roughly a two-hour show). Going on energy / intensity alone, it was worth the drive. These motherfuckers really really get into their shit from start to finish. On top of it all, this was the second night in a row that they were performing in L.A. If vocalist, James Hetfield, was not on coke (and I'm not saying he was, just trying to be funny here - sheesh!), then he certainly did not forget to eat his Wheaties, because that SOB made the stage his bitch.
During some of the extremely brief (I'm talking a minute at most) intermissions between songs, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett would just start shredding on his guitar, riling up the crowd something fierce.
Not being exactly a "fan", it was a little tough really getting into the music since I was unfamiliar with many of the songs, and haven't heard any of their new stuff. You see, I wasn't kidding about it being loud - it was fucking loud - so if you didn't already know the words coming out of Mr. Hetfield's mouth, fuggetabout. That being said, they did play a ton of old songs that I have heard of, so it wasn't all completely lost on me. I wasn't exactly singing along, but there were some songs familiar enough that I didn't feel like a complete tool for being there. Of the older songs they played, my favorite is One, which you can enjoy it below:
From my perspective - not a metal fan, not a huge fan of music, and not exactly a Metallica fan - this show fucking rocked. These guys are world-class performers, and they put on an amazing visually and audibly stimulating show. Their newest bassist, Robert Trujillo, even did one of his twirling around in a circle bits near the end, for good measure. I was very satisfied I went, and it was a fun time seeing all the die-hard fans going nuts. During their encore performance, they made it rain beach balls (hundreds of them), which the crowd on the floor was having a blast with, and at the very end they threw out tons of guitar picks. One last point I will make about the band themselves, is that it was really fucking cool seeing how thankful they were for everyone coming out and watching them perform. Whether it is genuine or not, they certainly give off a legitimate vibe that they feel extremely blessed that they have such a strong following, and were grateful that so many people came out to watch them. Now I'm all done with my points, I will include what I heard from some family / friends that also saw the show.
Metallica Fan's POV
My cousin Anna is a huge fan, and was kind enough to supply me with some of her feedback and their set list. She really hated the fact that for all of their new songs, they played recorded intros of the songs, rather than playing the intros live. She noted that they never play recorded intros, and it is disgraceful that they started. She loved the setup of the stage, the effects that I mentioned previously, and really enjoyed that you could hear each musical element individually. There were some old songs they played that they rarely (if ever) do, which I will note, but she was sad that they did not play For Whom the Bell Tolls. I should also mention she's not a fan of their latest album, so the few new songs (besides the first one), I don't have the titles for. Anywho...here you go:
- The Day that Never Comes (off of their new album, Death Magnetic)
- The Four Horsemen
- Ride the Lightning (surprising to hear, as it is played rarely)
- Sad but True (surprised to hear off of The Black Album)
- Wherever I May Roam (surprised to hear off of The Black Album)
- Nothing Else Matters
- Enter Sandman
- Fight Fire with Fire
- Motorbreath (surprised to hear)
- Seek & Destroy
- Master of Puppets
- Breadfan (a B-side song off of Garage Inc.)
My buddy Mike noted that Lamb of God should have opened with The Sword, but the owners of the Great Western Forum are religious and would not allow that. He was very happy with the show, noting they "melted his face", but mentions that on several of the songs, Mr. Lars Ulrich could not keep up with the band. My buddy Steve went both nights and was very impressed, saying that the first night he was on the floor and it was ridiculously fucking loud. He also mentioned that when the fire would shoot out of the stage, it was extremely hot on the floor, which I certainly believe.
That's basically all I have to say about that. Hope you enjoyed the read, since you won't be seeing me back with a music review in quite some time.