April 21, 1999
The press releases stated Metallica would be Metallica and the Symphony would be the Symphony- Metallica stayed true to their word.
When the show was announced many questions were raised, "will it be black tie or black t-shirt?", "Will the boys get dressed up?", and mainly... "How the hell are they going to pull this one off???"
After waiting in the mile long line, complete with religious protesters as free entertainment, we are allowed into the venue where we are led to our seats by an usher who hands each person a complimentary Metallica and the SF Symphony program, complete with set list. Only a few fans came in black tie, but it was the most well behaved Metallica audience I have ever seen- probably due to the lack of alcohol at the show. It was almost as if the crowd was confused about how to act, whether sit or stand, scream or clap politely. Judging by the 14 cameras, complete with one on a crane sweeping through the audience passing people's head by mere inches, the orchestra warming up, the arrival of band members parents and family sitting two rows behind us, and James taking a photo from the side of the stage, it was obvious this show was going to be really special.
At a little after 8PM Michael Kamen took the stage and conducted the Symphony as they played "The Ecstasy of Gold", followed by James as they began "The Call of Ktulu", followed by each band member as it became time for their part: Lars, then Jason, and finally Kirk, all of whom dressed well for Metallica standards but not quite in tuxedos.
The symphony did their thing and Metallica definitely did theirs, putting every ounce of energy into possibly the best performance I have ever seen. Despite a few mistakes by Lars, the show was perfect. Unfortunately neither of the "Unforgiven"s made the set list nor did "Fade to Black", three songs I was excited to hear with a Symphony. The set list did include two new songs, "No Leaf Clover" and "- Human", which both received a good response from the crowd. "- Human" was especially good with the Symphony because it had a mellow intro from the symphony then went into a heavy Metallica riff, similar to "2x4". "Hero of the Day" was interesting, but I expected more from that one and I believe Lars made a few mistakes on that one.
My opinion is the second half of the show was definitely the best. The set started with a beautiful version of "Nothing Else Matters", with James playing an acoustic guitar sitting with the orchestra. Although I think the ending could have been better, the song was incredible. The highlight of the show came with, "For Whom the Bell Tolls", the perfect combination of the beautiful sound of the Symphony mixed with the energy of Metallica, which ALMOST had the orchestra headbanging. After the song Michael Kamen and James exchanged big grins and a thumbs-up from Kamen with an overwhelming response from the audience. The show concluded with "Battery" and the band introducing Michael Kamen and the San Francisco Symphony to the crowd, who by now were back to their normal crazy Metallica fan selves and went nuts. The biggest surprise came when the Symphony got a louder round of applause then Metallica themselves... could this be a sign??? To answer everyone's question, Yes... the boys definitely pulled it off.
Symphonica Night Two
Last nights culture clash between Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony proved to be a hard fought battle, with Metallica eventually winning. Tonight's show belonged to Metallica from beginning to end. The first night's audience seemed pretty confused as how to act as if they were seeing the Symphony or Metallica. Tonight's audience made it clear even before the band took the stage that it was a Metallica show, by the end even the orchestra members were giving the "mark of the beast" hand gesture.
The rowdy crowd seemed to make the band feel more at home, and much more relaxed, while giving their flawless performance. From the first note of "The Call of Ktulu" until the last note of "Battery" the show was incredible! There were many highlights from tonight, with "For Whom The Bell Tolls" still being the best, while "Wherever I May Roam", "The Outlaw Torn" (complete with over excited audience member jumping on stage and trying to crowd surf, which earned him an escort out) and the new song "Minus Human" earning honorable mentions. In short, the whole set was amazing. Judging by the audience reaction at these two shows Michael Kamen made some new fans out of Metallica and Metallica definitely made some new fans out of the symphony.