Fast and furious, Metallica deliver masterful show

A review of Metallica at the TD Banknorth Garden on January 18, 2009

, Editor-in-Chief

Hot off the heals of being named to the Rock and Roll of Fame, Metallica hit Boston on Sunday with the typical show that they have come to be famous for over the past 25 years. Of course, that’s a full on assault of fast and furious metal epics and headbanging rock anthems.

After a rough start to this decade, the metal legends roared back to life with their latest release, 2008’s Death Magnetic. The album, which follows the horrid St. Anger, finds the band reviving their metal sound that dominated the 80’s. On Sunday they kicked the Boston show off with "That Was Just Your Life" and "The End Of The Line", two 7-minute plus anthems that also open the new album. The band followed with a set that relied heavily on the Death Magnetic (the band performed six of the album’s ten tracks with "Cyanide" standing out most) and it’s early releases like Ride The Lightning and Master of Puppets. Just as frontman James Hetfield declared, "You know the stuff that goes best with the new stuff? The old stuff," the old and new material meshed and flowed perfectly throughout the 18-song set.

Over the course of the two-hour show the band displayed all their sonic power while really cranking the amplifiers. There were countless metal epics, each fast& and furious and many of which the band continued with extended jams that hit all the right decibels.& Hetfield’s signature growl was in fine shape as was his rhythmic fretwork, which allowed lead guitarist Kirk Hammett to deliver awesome solos at unbridled speed. Bassist Rob Trujillo, who joined the band in 2003, made his presence known with some heavy basslines. And while we can debate the size of his ego, drummer Lars Ulrich powered the band’s backbone with hammering fills (he also jumped off his stool to hype the crowd up on several occasions). The one seemingly odd move and downfall was the band’s use of having the intros of several songs piped in.

Metallica roamed a massive rectangular stage that sat in the middle of the Garden rink, making for a show in the round. Eight microphones lined the sides of the stage, allowing for Hetfield to take charge wherever he pleased. Ulrich sat center stage on a drum riser that rotated every few songs. The band’s light show was powered by large hanging coffins, akin to the the cover of Death Magnetic. An impressive lazer show that would please the most stubborn of Pink Floyd fans helped kick the show off, and of course there was some pyro, though thankfully not excessive use of flame throwers that ran across the center of the stage.

The new tunes were well received, though Hetfield did snidely remark, "We’re gonna play something off the coffin covered disc" -& the capacity crowd thrived with the old favorites like "One", "For Whom the Bell Tolls", and "Sad But True". The faithful crowd clapped thunderously, raised their fists in union, and belted out numerous anthems at Hetfield’s command. The band’s furious assault of thrash metal excelled with the one-two punch of "Master of Puppets" and "Battery". The band eased down with "Nothing Else Matters" before unleashing "Enter Sandman" to close the main set.

A three-song encore began with Queen’s "Stone Cold Crazy" and rocked on with an ode to the band’s debut album, 1983’s Kill ‘Em All. "Hit The Lights" was a pleasant surprise for old fans before "Seek and Destroy" ended the show with the houselights on and an black beach ball drop. Metal and beach ball’s don’t mix. So the cheesy move, something& more fitting for a& Kenny Chesney or Jimmy Buffet show, was odd to say the least. Still, it was not enough to spoil the song, and yes, I did laugh.
Metallica has always been regarded as one of the world’s preeminent live bands and their spot in the Rock Hall is undoubtedly well deserved. If anyone needed evidence for either claim, it was all on hand during their masterful performance on Sunday. It’s only January, but the bar for this year’s best concerts has been set.

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