BY STEFFAN CHIRAZI
"They came from the land of the ice and snow..."
WHAAT? NEW INTRO????!??!!
Look, I didn't ask for a set-list alright????
"The Immigrant Song" heralds the dawning of a new Metallica set??!!!
Well sort of, because as I stand here, next to the Metallica FAMILY, with clubbers like Joseph Kauder and Jeff Riggs next to Chloe and the kids and Herring & Herring and a packed stadium behind me, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" ushers us into a totally GUT RUMBLING, bowel loosening "Creeping Death." I mean my ears are getting crushed and my guts are writhing in glee! Tye's headbanging like a demon...Jesus, who put the extra few thousand shots of adrenaline in these fuckers?
Maybe you have to be here, but this FEELS SO ALIVE, so large “oh Lord OOH you are so BIG so incredibly wonderfully HUGE” big and goddam it's a reminder. The beautiful glass roof is probably getting tested...oh and then it is SWEET beautiful stadium safety and succor with "Bellz..." because this animal house ain't about a switch-hitter right now this is about a HOME Fucking RUN!
This is actually feels like a theater! Crazy right?
"Fuel" gives some further thrust and (as bizarre as this sounds to say) even a slight breather from the enormous one-two punch that just hit the U.S. Bank Stadium. I mean, breather of a sort...the sort that still offers some fire...
But again as I stand here getting pulverized by the sheer power of this band live, I realize very, very few can bring it like this. I've read some right old rubbish about Ulrich's drumming over the years, and take away my relationships with people, IF you were here RIGHT NOW you would be bowing at his knees because the little fucker's doing it and doing it big. Like he always does...
"We'll be testing this place to see if it stands up..." says James as Rob rumbles yet more colons with that beautiful bass ushering in "King Nothing" before I literally need to get re-hydrated, the sound has sucked so much out of me. I come back in to "Memory..." with Het conducting the crowd for the finale (I just realized this show feels a bit like the Stade De France a few years back but LOUDER!)
"The Unforgiven" with its gallant tragedy, its mournful yet poetic refrain of a life reflected through a dark prism, its Celtic twinge shining through, sounds beautiful. Kirk absolutely destroying it with the solo...
The Fifth Member vote winner is announced by James..."Leper Messiah"...which sees a stage-diver ON THE RAMP!!! That is a rare, rare sight!
Oh these ...Puppets songs are so prescient right now, so strangely comforting given their expressions of disgust and anger at the world and its assholes...
Let me offer you a secret thought (don't tell the band because I haven't yet!). I sense a real relief, a sense of unleashedness (if it ain't a word it is now) from having finally let the new album/new song cat out of the bag. I genuinely think the love and positive reaction has been immensely relieving to them, because guess what? They do actually give a real shit about what they do, and to know that what you're doing IS still loved? ...Look, they still feed off the nourishment the fans give them, THAT'S why they never fail to bring it. But tonight is definitely a bit special in the vibe department...
"...Sanitarium" ohhhh that chug has extra for sure, and as it ends, Brett standing next to me screams "Sad But True" and guess what? Brett GETS "Sad But True"...at which point I have another weird thought, which is that Metallica are the PEOPLE'S music, and by that I mean yours and mine and Brett's and Dimitri's and Patti's and that guy in Des Moines and that gal in Istanbul. Their sound and style has influenced countless bands from countless decades...which by DEFINITION makes them pretty much international folk music! Look! Here's a definition: music that originates in traditional popular culture or that is written in such a style. Folk music is typically of unknown authorship and is transmitted orally from generation to generation.
You see? It makes a lot of sense in that context. Don't worry, the lutes and ukuleles aren't coming out any time soon, this is simply about their impact as a cultural force...and yes, I am coughing all this out on my iPhone as Rob is demon-crawling and devil-dropping his four strings whilst wearing the local colors.
Their understanding of pure set dynamics is obviously honed to a fine art, and "...Roam" fits all snuggly (note - I do think it's funny to watch people in the Snake Pit taking photos of the frontman's back(side!) although the light is special!!!!)
The lasers of "One" usher in the solemn screen march of the soldiers, and after my ears suffer a pitch breach, everything comes back into aural focus and the weight/heft ratio (volume as well as emotional) hits hard. The screen footage (as we know) shows WWI era horror, but let's not forget this is happening right now, as we speak. The horrors are as alive as ever, and the menacing blunt force scream of pain about darkness imprisoning is as resonant now as the book upon which this song is based. Here's another thought off-the-cuff...this band does empathy like no other and it doesn't even mean to! Yet people in the MILLIONS connect...that is TRUE empathy, not just some Deepak lite tagging!
Ohhhhh yeah "MASTER OF PUPPETZZZ" I mean...look, sorry, I have to play the riff so you fill this bit in
I made my way to the back of the stadium and it is STILL VERY LOUD! It never ever gets old hearing something as old school thrash and tickle as "Battery" in a stadium. You know, here's another thought; as long as this band wants to live at this level, at this intensity, it will. They have passed the threshold where bands could wither and fade away, and that is because (this is the ultimate empathy) they still have anger and passion and issues and questions to work through in LIFE GENERALLY, like you, like me, which is why "Battery" still connects like a massive angry group hug of rage.
Kirk's fire segues into the calmer yet bleak "Fade to Black"...the meter is perfect, the weight measured to the ounce...
James apologizes for forgetting a bit of "Leper Messiah" and dutifully sings some of the verse he missed (these moments are what make shows for us non-musicians unique, but of course I'm sure they will complain!) before "Seek and Destroy" chugs in to ensure it will not end the set!
I can tell you, this is the sort of set that takes it out you as a LISTENER and FAN, so I have absolutely no clue how the hell they must be feeling right now...for some reason this one has felt (so far) a little harder, a little thicker and a little more brutal than even AT&T Park...
"Hardwired" is the first encore. I mean come-the-furry-freakin'-fuck-fuckity-fuck ON! It is an ASSSSAULT! That is old school punk-thrash madness! Don't let anyone ever tell you they don't have the fitness and health...
After that what the hell else could they play BUT "Whiskey In The Jar?” Inject a little swing, some cool groove, some swagger into things having just repeatedly beaten people's heads in again! Then "Nothing Else Matters," the final perfect meditation before unleashing “The Monster” on Minneapolis that is the "...Sandman" ...and FIREWORKS FROM HEAVEN if you know what I mean...and balls, lots of balls...and I am tired but wired and running out of words. I have just run into some old club friends Jason and Matt, and we are all a bit sweaty, all smiling, all cheerful and all not quite ready to see the night off yet because this is rock ‘n’ roll and tonight has reinforced the fact that it is aliiiive! ...Something that just got reinforced by the dude waiting outside the stadium next to me for his Uber (and to whom I shall give the last word) who declared that the gig, "kicked my ass so hard I can hardly speak!"