November 21, 2010
By Steffan Chirazi, So What! Editor
...so this is the end my friends...
I mean, not of Metallica or anything like that, uh-uh... as James Hetfield himself said at the conclusion of tonight's World Magnetic tour at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, 'we'll be coming back quite a few more times' ...no, the end my friends of a tour which has taken in 215 shows over 992 days in 45 different countries.
The end of an end of a tour which saw Metallica go to Australia thrice times such was the demand (I mean, what was it? 16 shows that those lovely, mad antipodean bastards drank up like the finest champagne in comfy beer bottles?) .
The end of a tour which (for me) saw this band rediscover it's true heart and soul.
The end of a tour which saw these four men grow up a whole lot more than ever before.
It's the first time I've seen a tour end where everyone in the band hadn't grown tired of each other.
No major grumbles.
No passive-aggressive games.
Just four men who were genuinely enjoying every night they brought this music to you, and furthermore, genuinely enjoying their own beautiful, harmonious chemistry.
There is obviously a physical relief that their bodies will get some rest, some recuperation beyond two weeks.
But equally, there is the gnawing sense that this...this...well, 'this was fun and shit, we're gonna miss it quicker than we know.'
Because to me, Lars, James, Kirk and Rob plugged into performances that were often transcendent in terms of realizing another level to which this band can go as artists and performers. And as such, there has grown an enormous comfort in the knowledge that their re-birth at the start of 'Death Magnetic' has flourished into a whole new life.
These shows (this tour) has seen Metallica play unencumbered by the sorts of performance worries and stresses that multi-platinum bands often get back-ache from. They've played with the spirit of kids again, and because they've been having fun and not sweating the details, the details have been virtually spotless. Funny how that works...
But make no mistake, this ain't been no sloppy-Joe garage band trogging it around the place. This has been a mighty operation reliant on what must be the best crew anyone could ask for. I'm not usually one for just throwing out statistics uninvited, but I'm going to because, well, they're pretty mind-blowing.
143 arena shows, 34 festivals, 29 stadium shows, 4 club/theater shows, 3 TV/radio shows, 2 Rock And Roll Hall of Fame shows...two natural disasters with the Icelandic volcano and the Christchurch, NZ earthquake but no shows lost (unless you count a certain oyster incident!)...approximately 56,000 beach balls have been dropped (and word is that the carpenters and illustrious stage manager might well have consumed an equal amount of beers)...seven new babies were born to Metallica crew members, there was an engagement (Tori to Trivett) and a marriage (Dewey)...there have been approximately 180 crew members for whom this has been a life taking up varying degrees of 24-7 time; 14 have made it from the first show to the last. There are more stats but, ah, another day. Needless to say, since the tour that became World Magnetic kicked off on May 14, 2008 to this, it's final day, November 21, 2010, a lot has happened to a lot of people...
...and so it is that for tours to survive, let alone flourish, the family spirit must be here, there, everywhere. Think for a second about that; it doesn't always mean 24/7 happy-shiney-people, but it does mean love and respect from EVERYWHERE at a show, from the band to the crew to YOU...
Lars had been talking to a few of the fantastic fans that travel thousands of miles to dozens of Metallica shows, the next-level dedicated if you will, and he told them that he was also them, that he had done similar for Richie Blackmore. He said he'd join them at the rail and get in there. And tonight, after the final note of the tour had been heard, after the 'final whistle' had been blown if you will, there was Lars, jumping down from the stage and getting right into that crowd (Kirk being quick to join him) diving into the melee and coming up for air with that famous dirty, filthy grimace of Ulrichian joy. It was great, a simple but immensely powerful (as well as pure) gesture. And you simply cannot fake that shit. You really can't. And I say that not just because Lars said he'd get on the rail with the fans and did, I say it because deep down, there is a real kinetic charge that they all get from the fans. It's undeniable. You most likely know what I mean, and if you don't, go to a show one day and learn!
So really, let me be clear once more. Yes, it's the end of the World Magnetic tour, but it's been a celebration of the new worlds, new places, new journeys and destinations I feel Metallica will now embark upon with greater happiness, enjoyment and fortitude than for many a year. And as hard as I try to round this off by saying goodbye, well, it isn't is it? Metallica is 30 starting in January 2011...and given the appetite I've witnessed even during these last three Melbourne shows, we'll be hearing from them sooner than later (they already announced Rock In Rio next September before officially ending World Magnetic, that tells you something). I have no inside knowledge and no details of anything whatsoever, but I'm telling you goddamit that I'm right!
Melbourne, Nov 21st 2010