There’s a mystifying sensation and surge of adrenaline when you know you’re about to witness something great. When I first began to discover and listen to heavy metal as a teenager there were 3 bands that started my obsession with the genre. Black Sabbath, the founders of heavy metal, Motorhead, and Metallica. Metallica has always remained somewhere in my personal top 5 all time favorite bands. Every day on my bus ride to and from school I was listening to something from one of their first 5 (perfect) albums, Kill ‘Em All (1983), Ride the Lightning (1984), Master of Puppets (1986), …And Justice For All (1988), and Metallica/The Black Album (1991). This last Friday, May 12th, I finally saw my metal heroes live in concert.
Metallica recently started the North American leg of their WorldWired Tour, in a promotion of their latest record “Hardwired… To Self Destruct”. The album itself is absolutely fantastic and a return to form following a string of albums that were heavily criticized by fans stemming all of the way back from 1996’s “Load” to 2008’s “Death Magnetic”. Although I personally enjoyed “Death Magnetic” due to it being a significant improvement and long-awaited follow-up to one of the most controversial Metallica albums, “St. Anger”. To anyone who doubts the greatness of “Hardwired…”, go see Metallica while they’re touring the album or at least watch live footage from some of the concerts so far, they put on one hell of a show.
Usually, I’m not one for over the top or flashy performances from heavy metal bands. But when a band is playing a football stadium, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, you get a pass due to the size of the audience. The stage itself stretched across the width of the field, 50+ yards, with 5 high definition screens that were at least 10-15 meters (30-50 feet) high, giving a very clear view to those who were sitting further away, such as myself. One of the most important things to note is that James Hetfield’s mic did work while performing “Moth into Flame”, no one from the Grammys was allowed with 50 feet any audio equipment…probably.
But before the concert had even begun there was already a hiccup with the show. On the bill for Friday’s show were 2 other bands, Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat, with former Beastie Boy, Mixmaster Mike providing “entertainment” in between bands. I’ll touch on Mixmaster Mike’s presence later on. Early Friday morning Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates received word that his wife had gone into labor and was about to give birth to their child. Unfortunately, this meant that Gates would not be available to perform and caused Avenged Sevenfold to drop out of Friday’s show entirely. So now the show is down to 2 bands, Volbeat and Metallica. Still a very solid and respectable line-up.
Before Volbeat took the stage at 7 pm the crowd was left to be entertained by Mixmaster Mike. This was the biggest disappointment of the entire night. Mike did not belong on that stage and was not liked by an overwhelming majority of the audience (~40,000). I’m sure that whatever Mike did during his time with the Beastie Boys was great, but what he was doing before and after Volbeat was heavy metal blasphemy. Mike had taken it upon himself to take classic and beloved heavy metal songs and turn them into dance club tracks. Needless to say, his presence was not appreciated or wanted, the only applause he received was when he walked off and had his gear removed from the stage. Thankfully Metallica had righted the wrong when they played for a nearly 2-hour long set that included a 3 song encore.
For my finale, I want to address the protesters whose path I had to cross to enter the show. Usually, I never give protesters any attention, especially when they are protesting out of hate and ignorance. But I want to address the 7 or 8 people who chose to stand outside the gates of the Linc and protest the show. The only reason for their protest was due to the fact that it was a metal concert and that members of Metallica had a history of alcohol abuse. Out of the small group of protesters only 1, the leader I presume, was doing all of the talking. He felt the need to tell everyone, including myself, that we are all doomed to burn in hell because we enjoy a genre of music that was created by the devil and that we support “Alcohollica”. I’m all for everyone having the right to free speech and say whatever they want. But, when you’re speech is based on ignorance and hate, and you have no respect for the harmless musical preferences for others, you’re opinion means nothing to me and you are only making a fool of yourself. I just want the protesters to know that the concert was amazing. There were no sacrifices made to Satan and nothing but peace and love was shown to everyone in attendance. Also, the beer I drank during the show tasted amazing and went down very smooth.
It was an overall great night and I was happy to spend it with fellow metal head and Rowan Radio Rock Director, John Campbell. We have now seen 2 of the Big 4 Thrash Metal bands (Metallica and Megadeth) and we only have 2 to go (Anthrax and Slayer).