May 22, 2003
…just spent the day at HQ listening to something I’ll be telling you about in detail shortly! Smiles were still around, people were still happy but there seemed a more ‘business’ type approach to the day, what with more press and then everyone focused on getting ‘St. Anger’ (title track not the full album) in the pocket for tonight’s show.
I arrived at The Fillmore in time to catch opening act Depressor (I missed the bluesy combo of Andrew and Flemming’s band, sorry guys,I heard it was very cool and hopefully another time) but allow me to make mention of these pals’o Kirk, these sludgy, heavy monolithic, Venomoid, death metallee, industrio- Godfleshian beasts. This the music your mother warned you about, or should I say, warned you not to play in her house or she’d kick you out! Which (of course) means they were great and we need to hear more of them.
Really, what’s developing the most at these Fillmore nights is a feeling of looseness, friendliness, ease, comfort. It’s really like a week long camping trip with friends and extended family, where you kinda forget what day it is, are never quite sure of the time (other than it’s good!) and generally find yourself feeling like a happy camper more than a concert attendee. The other emerging feeling is that these shows will become Metallilegend in some special way. They feel special, they smell special, they look special, they taste special…it’s because (however low-key everyone tries to be) they ARE special.
Tonight’s Metallica show already seems as though it will be the most ‘arena’ of them all so far, simply on balance of set-list (30 minutes before the show, there is dressing room debate about the song selection, and whereas once it would’ve caused grief, now it’s simply about working for the common good).
And then they’re ready, and then it’s ‘the good, bad and ugly’ and then…nothing much. The crowd roaring and general confusion before another intro tape rolls to signal ‘Fight Fire With Fire’, and I remember when the sound of this song was a shock, but not anymore, because these days Metallica can break out all their old, fast shit and slap it at ya pronto.
Overall, tonight feels different, perhaps the most ‘professional-arena’ like show yet, as if perhaps some of the gleeful innocence has faded a touch and now Metallica are dialing into the tour-proper.
‘Fuel is a popular addition to tonight’s (once again) scrambled set-list, and as I watch the crowd and smell the atmosphere it strikes me just how much like the Grateful Dead this band will become. Not musically of course, more in terms of their resonance and longevity with such a large group of fans.
“Welcome to Metallica’s third night of rehearsals, we’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of bands here and it’s great to finally play this great place…great to see some smiling fuckin’ faces out there!” says James before rumbling into ‘Leper Messiah’, another popular choice with the crowd who heave and bob enthusiastically.
There appear to be less ‘rough’ spots musically tonight, but the atmosphere is a little different too, a tad more serious, a little less loose frivolity (n.b. this is not a criticism, just an observation).
‘St. Anger’ is given an airing, and no surprises, it goes down a treat with the masses. Ulrich, meanwhile, keeps up a miraculous blast beat effort, which is very cool as some think he can’t play like that! Meanwhile, Robert Trujillo is in his element with this kind of stuff…and it all brings to mind the jokey adage about age and treachery, y’know, it always beats youth and skill…I think a lot of bands are gonna be surprised when this summer they find that they’re simply blown out of the water. I mean, these mean old bastards can still pack a fast old punch.
I think it’s easy to forget how cathartic this band is for so many of these kids…during ‘Harvester….’ I saw some serious physical moshing, and having at first thought ‘dudes, chill out’, I realized that for them, this is working out some issues as well as muscles. And then I got to wondering how long it had been since they’d had the chance to seriously work out that sort of stuff, ‘cos this band ain’t played for a long long time, and y’know what, no-on else seems to work it like they do. And that is something to respect.
Oh, by the way, ‘The leather armies shall prevail…’ I still love hearing that line from rock stars! It should/will become a catchphrase for this band again (won’t it?) And let’s break the dirty unspoken thought that it’s still amazing that they can keep up with this pace (at their age) OOPS age is irrelevant, right? Of course, but let’s be honest, no-one (perhaps even they themselves?) felt they had the energy for sets which ended with stuff like ‘Phantom Lord’ anymore.
During ‘Die Die My Darling’ there is the general feeling within the band that it could’ve been sung better, thus two fans (clubbers we imagine) get up on center stage. The guy there is kicking OFF, he knows the lyrics, he knows the postures and he knows the ‘horns’…it’s cool. Not to cheat yer man on stage right, who is equal in every way, and is so excited that when the song ends and JH keeps asking him his name, ignores the question to go and hug Lars! I miss their names, don’t even know if they said them, ‘coz both were on a magic carpet.
The crowd is once again being worn out by this set, this endurance test, and funnily enough, the whole concept of these guys running marathon sets packed with speed and power mirrors their current ‘St. Anger’ maximus ethos, the one which is apparently about challenging fans and pushing them to their limit.
In this spirit they finish with ‘Hit The Lights’ yet more great lyrics which are now being embraced as opposed to shunned.
And so another night comes to a roaring end…seriously; I have to wonder if these guys can last this pace? Will we start to see ‘Nothing Else Matters’ creeping back into the set, will we witness some acoustic renditions of old classics, will their original arms and legs slowly start to wither and drop off with fatigue?
You have to wonder! Because as I try to close this off for Nic and the site, I am feeling myself driiiiiiiiiiffffffffffttttttttiiiiinnnnnngggggg ttooooooo Sleee…zzzzzzzz…zzzzzzzzzzz…
So What! Editor
Fight Fire With Fire
Seek and Destroy
Harvester of Sorrow
Ride the Lightning
Sad But True
Fade To Black
The Four Horsemen
Die, Die My Darling
Hit the Lights