July 21, 2003
“We want Summer Sanitarium to be the best stuff that's out there now. I hope - and think - that we have done that. The other so-called headliners, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit, are the best at what they do in their worlds. Deftones and Mudvayne...they have a different style, we're getting heavy music together. The fans are getting their money's worth - there are a lot of worn-out fans when we go on. It's a long day, but it's a lot of quality.” said James about the tour and the lineup.
The vibe between the bands is great and you always see members of other bands checking out each others’ show. Backstage, Metallica has set up a special hangout for everyone, called the Rubber Room. If you’re lucky enough to make it to the Rubber Room, you can enjoy plenty of food, drinks, air hockey, ping pong, and video games.
A lot of people probably don’t realize how much it takes to get a huge tour like this rolling its way around North America. Metallica alone has some 250 people working for them on this tour. We have three different stages, with six different crews: one Universal crew that goes to all of the shows, primarily traveling on a chartered jet (the band’s personal techs, etc); two identical “Black” and “Blue” crews that leapfrog their way around the country, looking over the stage setup at alternating shows; and finally, three “steel” crews who actually arrive days in advance of each gig to build the stages themselves. Throw in 36 tour busses and 50+ 18-wheelers, and you’ve got yourself a multi-million dollar summer entertainment package!
To get warmed up, Metallica spent a few days rehearsing for the tour in Detroit at the Pontiac Silverdome. This rehearsal was very unique, even for Metallica. On the first day, we had both complete stages set up opposite one another in the dome, which might have led the casual onlooker to think a giant “battle of the bands” was on the way. In reality, it allowed the various lighting, pyro, and sound crews to practice and coordinate what would happen during the actual shows. It also gave the many riggers and stagehands valuable practice at setting up and tearing down the enormous stages, which has to happen like clockwork in order for the tour to be successful. Finally, to close out the last day of rehearsals, the band invited a few hundred contest winners and fan club members for a private show at the 60,000-seat Pontiac Silverdome. Intimate, yet at the same time, total sensory overload!
Also while in Detroit, James & Rob hung out at their friend Kid Rock’s ranch. They were riding bikes – some with motors, some without - and jumping around in the swimming pool, and of course enjoying a killer BBQ.
So far the Sanitarium has hit 10 cities, with a number of memorable moments worth mentioning:
July 4th Detroit, MI: Opening night. As I was watching the band jam backstage 5 minutes before hitting the stage, I could feel the tension in the air, the tension of nervousness. In a weird way, it made me really happy to see this, and to realize once again that after some 20 years, these guys still care about doing their absolute best on stage. A brief twenty minutes later, the feeling of uneasiness seemed to be a distant memory, and you could see the band members looking at each other from across the vast stage, smiling and having the time of their lives.
Meet and Greets: Despite the immense heights this band has risen to, they remain intensely loyal to the fans who have put them there. This is none more evident than in the MetClub Meet-n-Greets that have taken place so far on this tour. All four band members have been routinely coming out and happily pressing flesh with the fans lucky enough to get backstage. One particularly special moment was at the Pre-Show in Toronto, where a pregnant woman explained to Lars that she wasn’t going to be sticking around for the actual show that night. Upon hearing that her doctor had warned her against the side effects heavy vibrations might have on her child, Lars gladly offered her up a front row seat to the big-screen TV in the sanctuary of his dressing room for the night. Not a bad place to take in the show!
Club Sanitarium: To give the MetClub members a special place to hang at the show on this tour, an area is usually set aside where only members of the Metallica Club and their guests can mingle and enjoy their own private bar. So far, the idea has been a huge hit with the fans, with the Philadelphia incarnation being the most popular. Here, Clubbers had their own private air-conditioned restaurant high above the floor where they could chat with other Clubbers and take in the show.
July 8th, East Rutherford, NJ: The mighty & legendary GIANTS STADIUM. All I can remember is the HUGE guestlist & hundreds of people backstage. “Do you know who I think I am” was my first thought looking around. On a serious note though, this is also a huge home base for their management & record company. A number of Elektra and Q-Prime reps were on hand for this one. Another really memorable moment from our stop in the NY/NJ area was a very unique magazine photo shoot that the band did prior to the show. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait for the real deal, coming sometime in September….check back with Metallica.com then for all of the gory behind-the-scenes details! You won’t want to miss this one!
Setlist: It looks like Metallica has found a setlist they are comfortable with. At the show in Orlando, FL on July 13th the boys decided to blast out:
Each show on this tour has been very memorable, the crowd has been up there on the LOUDNESS scale. As you can see on the setlist, the guys have decided to throw in a couple of new songs, St. Anger and Frantic. It is great to see and hear the crowd sing along to the new tunes.
I feel the band has a new level of appreciation for everything they do, and they take nothing for granted. During the show, James always takes a second to pause and introduce each band member to the crowd.
Another big difference this time around is that the band brings their families with them wherever possible. The other day we had the whole Hetfield family on stage behind Lars watching the show. It was great to see James’ 1 year old daughter Marcella trying to reach for her Dad, wondering what the H*ll he was doing there on stage. Backstage, the old “Food & Booze” room is now the “Food & Schmooze” room.
Of course you can follow the tour in our special Met On Tour section which is updated multiple times a day with posts and pictures. Plus, there is a video from each show!
Story by Niclas “MetOnTour” Swanlund