Sunday, May 14, 2017

Metallica Electrifies Philadelphia- Concert Review (May 12, 2017)

Metallica
Live in Philadelphia at the Lincoln Financial Field
May 12, 2017
(picture here taken in 2008, via this link

After a long eight years, Metallica returned to Philadelphia on May 12, 2017 for a concert at the Lincoln Financial Field. The iconic metal band are currently on tour in support of their latest album, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. With a nearly full arena, Metallica gave their fans a concert full of classics, new tracks and pyrotechnics.

            Metallica are currently touring with Volbeat and Avenged Sevenfold. However, Avenged Sevenfold did not play last night- as the band opted out since member Synyster Gates had to take a plane home as his wife had gone into labor earlier than expected. With this, Volbeat were the only opening act. Personally, I didn’t see too much of their set. Unlike most concerts, I was lucky enough to have the VIP experience- the Whiplash experience to be exact. Along with getting free things such as a shirt and poster, there were impressive mini-museums devoted to the band’s history and their 2013 concert film Through the Never. I mostly checked out the history exhibit- the Memory Remains. Most of the exhibit was contained in these stage equipment-looking display pieces, all of them with pullout drawers- which would have items inside of them behind glass. Each drawer was labeled and devoted to something different. Some of the items in these drawers included pictures, set lists, old school flyers, backstage passes, touring itineraries and items from each of the members’ personal collections. There were also standard display cases, showing more pictures and even a few gold and platinum records. It’s really impressive that the band have been able to preserve their history over the years.

            A little after 9 pm, the lights went down and the audience went crazy. Even on a drizzly, chilly spring evening, Metallica fans were ready for a two hour onslaught of heavy metal music. After a video intro taken from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, the screens lit up with images of the artwork for Hardwired. The band hit the stage and charged into the album’s title track. Right off the bat, the band were in fine form. Even though a new song, the audience was still singing along- especially with the song’s chorus: “We’re so fucked/Shit out of luck/Hardwired to self destruct!” After playing “Atlas, Rise,” frontman James Hetfield spoke to the crowd- setting the tone for the night.  

“We don’t give a shit what you’ve done in your life.” Hetfield said. “We don’t care what you’re wearing right now. We don’t care what color you are. What religion you believe in or political shit. We don’t need any of that shit. You are here tonight as the Metallica family, alright? All are welcome. We’re all here to celebrate live music and life. Are you with us?!”

             The audience heartily replied in the form of cheers and shouts. With that out of the way, the band continued the concert- firing on all cylinders. The set list for the show consisted of fan favorites from the first five Metallica albums- along with some songs from the aforementioned Hardwired. In total, the band played five songs from the album. With the new songs, the band presented them with full force and aggression. During “Now That We’re Dead,” four over-sized hand drums were wheeled out- which each of the band members proceeded to pound on in unison. For “Moth into Flame,” the pyrotechnics came out- including a flame that slithered back n forth from the middle of the main stage.

“We’re gonna make sure this microphone is working” Hetfield said jokingly prior to playing the song, in reference to the band’s technical difficulty-riddled performance of the song with singer Lady Gaga at the Grammy’s earlier this year.

            While the new songs were nice to hear, the fans went wild when the classics were played. The band played five songs from their 1991 self titled album (aka The Black Album), which was a huge success when released back in the day. Some fans felt the band had sold out when The Black Album came out, as the band were making radio friendly music. Judging by the reactions from the audience that night, I think it’s safe to say that this crowd treasures those songs. Fans were singing along to the melodic “The Unforgiven” while gentlemen cuddled with their sweethearts during “Nothing Else Matters.” Audience participation came in the form of “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” “Master of Puppets” and “Creeping Death” while songs such as “Motorbreath” and “Seek and Destroy” had some fans moshing.

On the big screens during each song, there were some wonderful visuals to go with each of them. For the newer songs, footage from the music videos were used. For their first three albums, Metallica didn’t make music videos. For these songs, they were presented with animated sequences- all of which were impressive. For the army-themed “One,” fireworks and explosions went off- recreating the atmosphere from the studio track. Guitarist Kirk Hammet and bassist Robert Trujillo each got to shine with their solos. Surprisingly, Trujillo started playing “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)”- the bass solo played by Metallica’s beloved bassist- the late Cliff Burton- on the band’s debut Kill ‘Em All. As Trujillo played, the big screen showed archival video footage of Burton- which got a huge reaction from the fans, some even shouting “Cliff!” I thought this was a beautiful tribute to their late friend and it’s touching to see the band still paying tribute to him now three decades after his untimely death.

The band performed three songs for the encore: “Battery,” “Nothing Else Matters” and ending it with what might be the band’s most popular song- “Enter Sandman.” As the band wrapped up “Enter Sandman,” a series of fireworks and explosions went off to close out the concert for good. After Hetfield spoke to the crowd, each of the members got the chance to speak. Drummer Lars Ulrich probably best summed up what most people were probably thinking.

“Eight long years. Am I the only one here who thinks that maybe Metallica should show up in Philadelphia a little more than eight fucking years?!” Ulrich asked to a huge reaction of approval from the audience. “Metallica loves you Philly. We will see you very soon!”

            Even more than 30 years into their career, Metallica still knows how to put on a damn good show. If Metallica comes to a town near you, go and see them when you can.

            If you’re reading this and you have seen Metallica during this tour, go and check out their website www.livemetallica.com. There, you can go and purchase an audio recording of the concert you attended on various digital formats or on CD.  

Set list
1.      Hardwired
2.      Atlas, Rise
3.      For Whom the Bell Tolls
4.      Creeping Death
5.      The Unforgiven
6.      Now That We’re Dead
7.      Moth into Flame
8.      Wherever I May Roam
9.      Halo on Fire
10.  Kirk and Robert solos (“I Disappear” and “Anesthesia” included)
11.  Motorbreath
12.  Sad but True
13.  One
14.  Master of Puppets
15.  Fade to Black
16.  Seek and Destroy

Encore
17.  Battery
18.  Nothing Else Matters
19.  Enter Sandman


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