James Sidelined

Yes, you read/heard/second-hand heard everything correctly: Metallica headlined the Georgia Dome to 50-odd thousand people. They did it with about a dozen guest frontmen, they did it with System of a Down's Darren Malakian playing some superb guitar on 'Sanitarium' amongst others. There were, indeed, over a dozen young ladies and Korn's DJ scratching during 'Enter Sandman.' And yes, James Hetfield wasn't in the building, though he made a mighty effort to be, believe me! Bizarre? Most certainly? Anarchy? Judging by the masses of folks sprawled all over the stage cheering, laughing and jamming with Hammett, Ulrich and Newsted, that would be most accurate. And did it work? Well, after 90 minutes of unpredictable-off-the-cuff yet totally successful set-jamming, 48,557 people were still cheering at the end, doubtless delighted to have received this 'extra' set as well as the free replacement show that Ulrich, Newsted and Hammett offered them on August 4th ("Keep your ticket stubs!!!"). So that would be a resounding 'FUCK YEAH!'

What can I really say right now? It happened, it worked, it will continue to work because this band doesn't believe in quitting and because there are people on this tour who are prepared to step in and step up to help out. Darren from System just told me 10-mins ago he learned guitar because of Metallica, and here he is at 1.22am, in an Atlanta Georgia Dome dressing room working out song after song with Kirk. Dedication and bravery.

There was no one star tonight: there were 50,000 plus a couple of hundred more backstage. Crew guys had to work overtime to pull guitars together. Bands were flowing with whatever was asked of them. Then there's the small matter of Lars Ulrich standing in front of everyone and communicating directly with them. Plus (of course) Jason Newsted was taking the frontman role like he's been doing it forever. Most bands would fail miserably when faced with such adversity: they would slink away hoping nobody would mind a last minute excuse. But that isn't the way this band works. Never has been and it never will be.

Frankly, everyone was having a blast on this tour, and no-one more so than James. I haven't spoken to him today, but I know he will be doing everything possible, and then some, to make sure he gets these shows done. Because when all's said and done, this is a band who steps up to the plate when few others could. Who knows what will happen next on 'Summer Sanitarium'? Word at 1.28 am is that the show WILL go on... somehow. Y'know what? I believe it. - Steffan Chirazzi SO WHAT! The Metallica Club Magazine