When you read the words of someone you know repeatedly telling you how great "it" is, or "they" are, there is a human tendency to switch off. Add to that the occasional comment about "working for them so of COURSE you’d say 'they' were great!" and the whole "paid-to-say-it’s good" thing becomes a bit of a fait accompli.
I started to hear it (and sense it) a few months ago, after Metallica played another blinder of a gig in Minneapolis, and I really started to hear it after I quietly told people that their (then) forthcoming new album was a pure belter and their best work for over two decades.
I remained calm.
I knew that people’s own ears would dictate the truth about Hardwired…To Self-Destruct and they obviously did, underscored by its stunning success (#1 in 57 countries).
I knew I wasn’t wrong, and now, hopefully, you all do too.
Tonight, at the swanky, sultry, and superlatively beautiful Fox Theater in Oakland, California, Metallica completed phase one of their WorldWired tour. This one has not just waltzed into stadiums, it has taken on the sorts of venue we have all dreamt Metallica might one day play again, the smaller places, the more curious ones. The Fox is a gem, with its bright-eyed Buddhas, ornate '20s ceiling, and critically it has a large, seemingly-sprung dance floor which allowed the sweaty frothing throng of humanity packed upon it to celebrate the night like happy Metallica fans will: with plenty of "cheer" and a lot of sweat. Classics mixed with new favorites, and everywhere I looked, people were grinning or smiling or laughing or cheering. It was festive. And, as a certain man we all know likes to say, it was cozy.
I won’t break the show down and describe it. There are already doubtless dozens of video clips out there at your fingertips which can show you just how goddamn good it was. But what those videos cannot show you and what I can make sure you know is that James, Lars, Kirk, and Rob are enjoying these shows, this album, and these times more than I can ever really remember them doing so. They have never lacked energy and they have always had fun, but right now there is a deep, deep sense of a band very much enjoying every minute of music they play together. Perhaps they are at the golden apex where age and appreciation come together in one glorious, divine bolt of strength. Perhaps they are genuinely surprised at the overwhelming positivity of response to their latest endeavors. Perhaps they are deeply satisfied to know that the likes of “Moth Into Flame” and “Atlas, Rise!” are proudly standing shoulder to shoulder with classic favorites like “Sad But True” and “Master Of Puppets,” threatening to enjoy the same tenure as those fan favorites. And perhaps now, after all the years, after all the ups and downs and with no one getting younger, they have simply and collectively learned to truly enjoy and appreciate the magic that comes from their moments onstage together.
It is very real. It is very true. And know that perhaps the biggest reason Metallica has managed to connect once more with so many of you, is that it has finally, fiercely, and deeply reconnected with its own true self.
– Steffan Chirazi