THIRTY YEARS packed into 6 days

THIRTY YEARS packed into 6 days
by Steffan Chirazi
 
THIRTY YEARS of friends, heroes, riffs, past, present, things borrowed, and things new (four never-heard-before songs from the Death Magnetic daze), all with the family who has been there throughout; YOU.
 
 
It was overwhelming for me to observe and be a part of, so godDAMN I don't know how overwhelming it was for the guys…well, maybe I saw glimpses at times during this past week, but let me be clear; sometimes you can be overwhelmed by good stuff, and this was ALL ABOUT THAT SORT OF OVERWHELMING OVERDRIVE…by the way, my thoughts aren't strictly chronological, and I'd imagine yours aren't either because this event was about the total sum of all parts as much as when it all happened…but anyway, back to glorious, delicious waves of overwhelm as observed (and felt) amidst the balloons and coins and confetti and streamers... 
 
 
…I'll start with James saying to me on Saturday that his head was almost too full 'with all the riffs for tonight' and at the same time saying he literally wanted to pinch himself as Rob Halford belted out a legendary "Rapid Fire" beside him. Then Lars just beaming like a gleeful child at Biff and Sean Harris having a cup of tea at HQ on Monday (and furthermore in awe of the fact that Tatler & Harris were standing not just with him in a photo but with each other, a 12 year drift repaired in the spirit of celebration).
 
 
The Mercyful Fate reunion/jam/legendary rifferama/whatever-the-fuck it should be called, just amazing, the guys lost lost LOST in the belly of the riff-snake as it twisted and turned through Fate favorites, King Diamond's heart beating stronger than ever, his voice shattering glasses in the upstairs bar. Lou Reed showing naysayers that yes, he does bring you some punk rock attitude motherfucker! Watching Glenn Danzig (another O.P. - original punk) rocket around the place, mike cord wrapped around his fist like a weapon, ready to beat the living bejaysus out of someone, screaming the Misfits songs that James, Cliff, Lars and Kirk all used to listen to in vans around the world as Cliff ruled the stereo.  It was also pretty electric when Tatler and Harris delivered the diamond plated goods thus invigorating our sponsors to child like states...Marianne Faithfull supplying her smoldering smokey melancholy to "...Memory...” 
 
 
 
John Marshall, the man Cliff insisted come out from behind the amps on the …Puppets tour when he filled in for Het the first time, riffing with his childhood friend Kirk…fresh from that cuppa at HQ, Biff Byford crashing by to nail the whistles and invoke air guitar memories...old friends like Jerry Cantrell and Bob Rock stepping up (Rock, remember, a fully-vested Metallica BASSIST on  St.Anger as well as long-time producer), Gary Rossington coming along on Friday to emphasize his own part in "Tuesday's Gone"…the crispy bleached bonce of Ray Haller sweetly savaging an old favorite was fun, and...oh to see Het's beaming face when John Bush sang "…Horsemen" because as every historian knows, it could've been JB in a five-piece 'Tallica had things worked out a little differently…Kid Rock added his country-fried flare to the proceedings (and also, I personally felt, represented Cliff by wearing giant bellbottoms!)…and what a great thing to see Animal from the Anti-Nowhere League belting out that he's been to Hastings and he's been to Brighton and been to Eastbourne too (thank you, by the way, for the title of our magazine!)...
 
 
I have to hail Apocalyptica too, and also giggle at the chaos the electrification of their strings caused, as well as be grateful for the “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” which was charmed from Trujillo like a beautiful snake to bridge the waiting ...there was Jim Martin, an old friend, a connection to the earliest days and damn fine guitarist in his Faith No More days, strapping up for the first time in over a decade, and Pepper Keenan, friend and supporter, on hand to make sure he added some further gritty soul (speaking of which, the guys had bumped into a bunch of brass band cats in London called The Soul Rebels Brass Band who opened each night with brassy 'Tallica renditions. Here's a funny thing, those guys are the house band at Pep's bar in New Orleans but nobody knew until FRIDAY!)…oh, and it wasn't so bad seeing a certain Terrance 'Geezer' Butler and Mr. John 'Ozzy' Osbourne step out for a bit of Sabbath was it? Both helped lift the volume, both made everyone wonder where else this could all go, how much higher it could get because let’s face it, Ozzy and Geezer are about as big as it gets… 
 
 
How KOOL to see the OLD SKOOL in the house too, as Lääz Rockit and Death Angel each played support sets on Friday and Saturday respectively (by the way, how excellent is DA's "Mistress Of Pain"  after all these years?) and the Rockits were a wonderful bridge to East Bay thrasher parties of decades since gone...those classically stringed assassins Apocalyptica composed quite a selection too, and Armored Saint threw down some heavy (bassist Joey Vera could’ve been on the four strings in ‘Tallica a long time ago)…
 
Jim Breuer kept things rolling as the compere extraordinaire, making us laugh and cry (with laughter!), making sure the hair and riff competitions were never so serious as to upset those who lost (let's face it, everyone won, right?), and if you had time to catch a breath, then you'd go and see the fantastic museum set up by Toby & co, complete with EET FUK guitar and white leather jacket (Danish kit monkey anyone? I mean the one on the drums!)… 
 
 
Cliff. Remembered always. How beautiful that Ray Burton was there on the first night, and how excellent that he told a story which had us all howling with laughter…a slice of Cliff there for sure. But the photo of him on the screen every night, the testimonials, the appreciation…yeah you old zombie-loving chili eating green sauce motherfucker, you'll NEVER be forgotten by the family... 
 
…the family. That’s all of us, all of YOU…and the guys decided that as this was a bash, as this was a party, as this was a FAMILY AFFAIR that family members should come up and play! So take a big bow John Dent for “…Roam”, a rippingly savage “Breadfan” from Andrew Dowis, a crushing “Blitzkrieg” from Joseph Guariglia and a monsterous “Blackened” with Dennis & Annette Diaz…no-one dropped anything other than a new splodge of crazy energy…
 
 
How goddamn cool it was to see Jason Newsted.  Every night. Laying it down, nailing it down, given the latitude to do so by Rob, enjoying rebirth chemistry with his (always-will-be) brothers…just superb. THIRTY YEARS was every bit as much about making sure sticky areas were wiped clean once and for all with new fresh turf established and relationships rebuilt back to 100%… 
 
…THEY ARE THE ROADCREW and the boys made sure to pay tribute to boys and gals who tirelessly, sleeplessly and fearlessly get the show rolling from Cleveland to Canada and Bangalore to Boston (with a whole slew of countries inbetween) AND there was a warm shout-out for the HQ Club crew too, and Goddamn there’s a TON of work going on in the offices and merch room all the time so how righteous it was for the guys to bring everyone up for a bow…by the way, how about Ron Superfan managing to get some of the barrier? The guys had a specially-made Superfan trophy made from ‘the rail’ material, plus he got a lifetime gold laminate (I want a report on how it works in Moscow or Manchester at a gig)…
 
I think Lars and Rob told me it was close to 80 songs learned or practiced for these shows. Eighty songs casually rehearsed daily for six months three days a week as the band enjoyed swanning around Northern California on their year off…ha!!!! No, that's close to 80 songs hammered whenever a waking moment presented itself between summer festivals, trips to India, the Middle East, Brazil and albums with Lou Reed. Rob was at HQ until 3:00 am on Thursday night making sure he was nailed for Friday's festivities and this is not a rare occurrence; celebration requires dedication, remember that. And Lars, James, Kirk and Rob sacrificed their zzzz’s like everyone else; these guys get their creative hands dirty along with everyone else, which is WHY these things happen because it really is a TEAM and a FAMILY…which also moves me to say that we all saw the gigs.  What we didn't see were the SECOND gigs taking place every afternoon by virtue of sound checks and song checks to make sure that everyone was happy with their part and that things were going to run smoothly…Rob said to me at one point that this sort of thing really needed months and months of work, to which I responded that it sounded like there had been but that crucially, the speed and intensity of it all made the vibe even cooler, more spontaneous-feeling, more like a party.
 
 
Hugh Tanner, Het's earliest music buddy, looking both delighted and overwhelmed himself to be at the party, Lloyd Grant absolutely ROARING with his big woolly hat, huge smile and Kool Kat shades, Ron McGovney, such an important early days member and motivator, and (of course) Dave.
 
 
Let there be no misunderstanding; I have waited a long, long, LONG time in the hope this could happen. That all the chemistry and all the history could be re-appropriated into a positive place which would allow what needed to happen to happen. I saw Dave walk in to the building, and decided to seek him out. He was in a great place. 
 
 
And so it was that after I'd said a few words about Cliff, I found myself needing a quiet moment as the sheer weight and emotion of the whole week peaked in my head…and when Dave stepped out to play (with Kirk Hammett giving him the floor space to bust leads) I found my heart dragging my body to the front of the show and into a frenzy with everyone, with you and you and you, because WE were seeing it, the culmination, the circle, the FULL 30 YEAR JOURNEY climaxing in the only way it could but we never thought it would, and I needed to lost my 44 year old body in it, to give in to it, to connect back with what it felt like when I first heard the No Life… demo, when I first got the Kill 'Em All advance, when I realized how much I loved this ‘new’ phenomenon without ever hazarding a guess as to how much a part of my life they would become. 
 
THIRTY YEARS.
 
Shoved with beautiful, delicious chaos into four shows and six days…with piles of love and little sleep…would they have done it any other way? No.  Should they have done it any other way? NO! This was perfect. The party that became a show that became a jam that became a party that became a residency that became a family reunion that became the ultimate celebration... 
 
 
…it will probably take another THIRTY YEARS to properly process the memories…by which time we can have this party again? 
 
You'd better believe it… 
Steffan Chirazi
Monday December 12th, 2011
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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