(Detroit, Michigan) January 13, 2009 - With a frigid Michigan winter evening as the backdrop for Metallica’s descent upon Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, what lurked under its heated rafters could have only been described by those in attendance that evening. In most instances music fanatics attend a concert to listen to recognizable melodies, sing along to familiar lyrics or bask in the splendour of a well-performed instrument. Other times an enhanced lighting and stage show filled with all of its pyrotechnical trappings provide the visual eye candy necessary for some. Yet, can we say that we have ever witnessed a performance or a band that has not only symbolized a culture, but have defined a musical movement?
The energy and feeling created at a Metallica concert is unlike no other. Aside from a show it is an absolute assault on all of those brave enough to withstand the impact of an intensely fierce and at times violent audience. Security were definitely on their heels as testosterone-filled moshers unleashed their aggressions on each other. Similar to a group of warriors on the attack, fans pumped their fists as a call to arms. With James Hetfield as their commander-in-chief the mighty Metallica militia filled the arena to capacity.
Electing for a center stage or “in the round” arrangement, the Los Angeles-based metal quartet came armed with their legacy of hits spanning a quarter of a century. With both classics and recent material in tow, the masters of speed metal energized the dedicated crowd.
Make no bones about it, they were definitely there to promote their latest release “Death Magnetic” as all but four cuts were scattered throughout the set list. Opening the evening appropriately with “ That Was Just Your Life” and “The End of the Line” the first two tracks from the album, fans realized quickly that their heroes were not going to be resting on their laurels. This is indeed a far cry from the typical textbook format of playing one or two cuts from the newer material, which is often used as opportunity for fans to locate the nearest alcohol outlet or washroom before returning to their seats to hear the true signature songs from the band.
Now into their ninth studio album and 25 years into their career, their classic songs seemed to glue the night’s list together. Staples such as “Sad But True”, “Enter Sandman”, “One” and “Nothing Else Matters” satisfied all including those only somewhat familiar with the band. Not surprisingly, a group with this kind of longevity was sure to attract even the offspring of their loyal and long time fans.
Aside from the impressive laser display which opened the night and a massive stage to release the band‘s energy, the show was modest in its visual display. Due to the obvious disadvantage of playing “in the round“, stacked amplifiers were not present. Nor were the latest and greatest in video screen technology. This stripped down show was actually quite refreshing to see as it brought the audience back to the true meaning of why they were present that evening - the music.
Lars Ulrich, drummer and co-founder, was both masterful behind the kit as well as visible as he rotated slowly throughout the evening on a revolving platform to give all an equal view. With a stripped down Tama set, his thunderous sound was unmistakeable. As Hetfield both sang and barked out the band’s anthem-like lyrics, Kirk Hammett hammered out the familiar guitar solos which are almost as significant as the songs themselves. Robert Trujillo, bassist since 2003 was ferocious both in demeanour and ability. Although occasionally using a pick, Trujillo was able to grind out the most complex Metallica grooves with his incredible dexterity and mammoth tones.
Now with the thrash legends becoming the latest of inductees into the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and with “Death Magnetic” receiving 3 Grammy nominations including one for Best Rock Album/Recording Package, they have secured themselves as kings over all that is metal . Now with their hand firmly holding the heavy metal grail, Metallica continue their assault in Europe beginning early February as they continue to “Seek & Destroy”.
Published on Dec 31, 1969