mytallicashirtHeavy metal icons, Metallica, returned to Vancouver Dec 2nd, after a 4 year absence. They hadn’t played in Vancouver since supporting the “St. Anger” album, and we were definitely excited to have them back. GM Place was completely sold out. The group I was with ended up in section 109, which was lower balcony, in the corner, closer to the floor. Not too bad. Out of the 4 times I’ve seen them now, these were probably the best seats I’ve had, except for being on the floor at my first Metallica show, in ’88. The are touring with 2 support acts, “The Sword”, and “Lamb of God”. I had no interest in these bands, so I opted to get in the t-shirt line. I heard from other people that they played great. When I finally got to the front of the line for merch, they had sold out of a lot already. I was able to get the Pushead design tour shirt. Awesome.

Alright, in my seat now, but not for long. As we hear the haunting sounds of the ever so familiar “Ecstasy Of Gold” (they open every show with this track from “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”), everyone jumps to their feet. Then we hear the heart thumping intro from “Death Magnetic”; the band starts to find their way to the stage now. Hetfield kills us all with that first crushing riff in “That Was Just Your Life”. Very img_01081impressive laser light show. From there we go into “The End of the Line”.

The band is playing very well tonight! Next is a couple of oldies: “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Ride the Lightning”. Fucking classic. I think my voice is hoarse, already!

Next the stadium goes dark and quiet as we hear the sounds of war. Yup, they’re playing “One”. Lots of cool fire and strobe effects, but I missed the ‘splosion when Hetfield says “Landmine…”, near the end of the song. Not on img_9262this tour, I guess.

Next we get some banter from the band; “How you doin’, Vancouver?!”, “It’s great to be back in Canada!”, “Here’s another new one.” They go into “Broken, Beat, and Scarred”, personally my favourite track from the new album. Right after that we get another new one, “Cyanide”. The new stuff is sounding great, live.

Another short break to change guitars and Hetfield starts to apologize for something?, “Some people can’t handle this next song, so we have to apologize for playing it. We’re sorry this song is so HEAVY!”. The they go into the growly, Black album number, “Sad But True”. This is img_0118when we realize that the entire lighting rig is 4 giant metal coffins, and there are being lowered and moving around. Fantastic! After “Sad But True”, the place goes dark again, another guitar swap, and then we hear the intro to “Wherever I May Roam”. Nice. This song is so good live.

Next, Hetfield says, “Anybody got Kill ‘Em All?”. The whole place goes crazy, as we get “No Remorse”. It is great that the band realizes that this is the stuff that made us love Metallica. It seems they still love it, as well, not showing their age at all as they run around the stage. They have a big stage in the middle of the arena, so there is really no “front row”, like we’re used to. With 8 different mics, and Hetfield running around all the time, front row can be anywhere.

After a short break, the place is dark again, except for a spotlight on Hetfield. Then we get another new one, “The Day That Never Comes”. This song is great live, reminding me of “Fade to Black”, a little. The giant coffins are dancing again for the last few minutes of the song. This song is packed full of everything we like about Metallica. It’s got the slow stuff, the fast stuff, the blazing solos, and the crushing riffs. They do it well, live.

Okay, back to the classics. “Master of Puppets”. If I had to pick a favourite Metallica song, I think this would be it. My favourite album, for sure. Awesome to hear it live, again. Followed up with “Battery”. Seriously? “Battery”? That fucking RULES! They played it so fast, even faster than the album version. This just re-confirms the fact that this is the best live band I have ever seen.

img_0146The place is dark again, with a spotlight on Kirk. He’s noodling around on a clean sounding guitar. Then he goes into “Nothing Else Matters”. The crowd goes nuts and the lighters and cell phone screens light up. Although, I hated this song when it came out, it has become one of my favourites, and it is sounding pretty good, live. The end solo fades, while Hetfield is on his knees, bowed over his guitar. It seems we’re all waiting for his cue. The band is poised…I’m on the edge of my seat….what’s next? WHAT’S NEXT?! It is, of course, “Enter Sandman”. The crowd is absolutely insane now. It gives me chills, just remembering it. It seems like the entire stadium is singing along, drowning out the band, at times. They finish up. “Good night!”. We all know this is not the end…

Just few minutes later, they’re back on stage. Kirk and Lars are screwing around on some Kill ‘Em All riffs. Then James comes out and says, “We haven’t played this one in a while…”. They’ve been known to do a few covers in their encore, from time to time. Tonight, we get “Am I Evil?”. You couldn’t tell they hadn’t played it in a while. It was great. They followed that with “Stone Cold Crazy”. Not my favourite cover of theirs, but it was okay. I would have liked some “Blitzkrieg”, or “Die Die My Darling”, or “Last Caress”, or……aw shit, I wished they had played another 2 hours! I wanted to hear some Load/Reload stuff. I would have even liked something from St. Anger. Definitely needed some more “Master of Puppets” and “…And Justice For All”. Alas, ’tis the end of the night.

img_0155For the final song, James had the house lights turned on. We can all see each other now. Like one giant family reunion. We’ve known these guys for over 25 years now, so it really does feel like we’re seeing some old family members. We’re back to “Kill ‘Em All” for the finale. “SEEK….AND…DESTROY!!!”, Hetfield yells. I think they end every show with this one, so we know this is truly the end of the night. As we get to the last bit of the song, there’s a bunch of black, Metallica beach balls, falling from the rafters. I thought this part was a little silly. I wanted them to go out, guns blazing, with the lights, fire, lasers, and giant dancing coffins going all at once. Ah, well, it was still cool, I guess.

Over all, this was an amazing show. I am glad I didn’t miss it, and I feel bad for all that did. The show sold out very fast, so lots of die hard Metallica fans didn’t get to go. At the end of the night, Lars did say that they should come to Vancouver more than once every 4 years. He then said “We’ll see you very fucking soon, Vancouver!”. I’ll be there!

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