These strange times have normalized a new category of entertainment: the live stream. It was no different for thrash metal giants Metallica, who decided to broadcast, free of charge, their two sold-out 40-year anniversary concerts from San Francisco’s Chase Center, on December 17th and 19th.
The occasion marks 40 years since drummer Lars Ulrich placed an ad “looking for other metal musicians”; the rest is history: Metallica was born, their first track ever released being “Hit the lights” on Metal Blade Record’s “Metal Massacre”, the first volume of a series of rather interesting heavy metal compilations.
On the first night, the trip down memory lane began with a festive atmosphere, the band performing for a live audience made up of fan club members from all over the world. They were all certainly thrilled to be there, belching out every single word of every song the quartet performed. And what a performance it was. Ranging from 1983’s “Kill ‘Em All” all the way through 2016’s “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”, the band performed songs from each of their 10 studio albums for the first time ever. And all that amid pictures from all eras of Metallica’s history, from the earliest of days to the present, as well as footage, including a video of late bass player Cliff Burton performing live, and a short interview with former bass player Jason Newsted. Truly a treat for all fans.
The set on December 17th began with the aforementioned “Hit the Lights”, featured on the band’s debut, “Kill ‘Em All”, followed by “Creeping Death” and “Trapped Under Ice”, two of the best tracks of “Ride the Lightning”. “Master of Puppets” was represented on this first concert through “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” and “Orion”. This was followed by a thank you to all former band members, by singer/guitarist James Hetfield. “The Shortest Straw” and “One” were the pieces played from “…And Justice for All”, after which “Metallica” (aka “The Black Album”) favourites “Sad But True” and “Nothing Else Matters” brought the crowd to a frenzy. The mid-90’s era was there through “King Nothing” and a first ever live performance of “Fixxxer”. “Breadfan” was the cover of choice for this first festive evening, followed by “No Leaf Clover”. The evening came to a close after “Frantic”, “The Day That Never Comes” and “Spit Out the Bone”.
The sound was perfect, but the arena-setting with a central stage surrounded by the audience on every side meant that the video editing had to be on point, yet a lot of the first half of the show included shots of the backs of the musicians. Kirk Hammett’s guitar solos sounded great, but throughout some of them we could only see his back, especially during “King Nothing”. But this was fixed during “Fixxxer” (pun intended?), which brought the video editing up to par with the audio. Besides Hammett’s skilled guitar playing, Rob Trujillo was fun to watch as usual, James Hetfield, a brilliant frontman, captivated the audience and Lars Ulrich’s drumming was the heartbeat of the whole venture.
The set on December 19th was preceded by a photo collage that started in the present, going back in time, until the very early Metallica days. This was mirrored in the setlist, which started with “Hardwired”, followed by “The End of The Line”, “Dirty Window” and “I Disappear”. The music was then interrupted by footage where all four band members talked about favourite covers and then, the pleasant surprise: “Am I Evil?” by Diamond Head was the chosen one, bringing the energy in the arena to another level, especially during a brilliantly delivered guitar solo by Hammett. “The Memory Remains”, “Fuel”, “Bleeding Me” and “Wasting My Hate” were followed by “The Black Album” songs “The Unforgiven” and “Enter Sandman”. “Harvester of Sorrow” represented 1988’s “…And Justice for All” and “Master of Puppets” ignited the crowd. The set came to a close with “Fade to Black”, “Whiplash” and “Seek and Destroy”, filling the second night of this 40th Anniversary with hits and classics.
Again, the band managed to feature songs from every studio album, delivering them all with perfection. And this time, the video editing was on point from the first song to the last, providing for a more immersive experience for everyone watching at home. Overall, an almost perfect live stream, a true treat for Metallica fans the world over.
Below is a Metallica performance of “Enter Sandman” from last November, in Daytona Beach, FL, USA.