US Bank Arena
May 1, 2004
by: Red Rocker
People often ask what concert has been my favorite or most memorable. While it’s nearly impossible to pick just one show over the course of my life, I can usually filter through dozens of worthy contenders and offer a handful of artists who never disappoint. More often than not, Metallica is where I begin. Having seen the men in black a half dozen times now, I can report without question that I’ve never once left their presence without having each and every one of my five senses totally electrified. They are unique in my book because no matter the venue, no matter the size, indoors or out, and regardless of the songs played, they continue to be the greatest rock show on Earth.
This is the second time I’ve seen them on the St. Anger tour (now billed as “Madly in Anger with the World” Tour 2004) and, per usual, the track listing evolves with each passing night. It seems a simple concept, playing different songs in a different order each night out, but very few bands manage to pull it off these days. The bigger the venue and the larger the magnitude of performer, the even more rare a feat it becomes. But when Metallica’s thundering road show comes rolling into town, you are guaranteed a different offering of songs and order from the night before. Lars Ulrich wouldn’t have it any other way.
Opting for a center stage configuration this time out, performing “in the round,” the mighty Met picked right up where they last left their loyal throng of Queen City fans some four years ago. A no-frills introduction shortly past the stroke of nine o’clock saw the vintage “Blackened” bring the humid arena to its feet. Lars’ signature drum pit erupted from the center of the massive stage design. Although it wasn’t immediately obvious, his kit would rotate ever-so-slightly during the course of the two-plus hour show, giving fans in every section equal opportunity to hail him. Room temperature control and comfort would not be priorities this night, as James Hetfield scowled at the front row and snarled, “Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire,” and the
Reload highlight “Fuel” took hold. With towering pyrotechnic pillars of flames shooting straight into the air from all four corners of the stage, the raw heat from “Fuel” had at least the first dozen or so rows gasping for air.
“Seek and Destroy” then “Fade to Black” immediately followed, staking a claim just four songs deep that this time through, Metallica seemed ready to offer up a farewell tour-like presentation of greatest hits, old and new. In fact, if
St. Anger was as disappointing a studio album to you as it was to this critic, the current tour will go a long way to pacify your longing for the classic stuff. Only the title track and “Frantic” were included from their latest recording, choosing to err on the side of familiar and deep album cuts within the hefty 20-year catalog.
After a brief guitar solo from axe man extraordinaire Kirk Hammett, all four horsemen emerged to storm through “King Nothing.” Kirk and James got their respective cardio workouts in by frantically maneuvering all around the rotating stage at different points, taking up positions at various microphones so as to accommodate fans in all corners of US Bank Arena. The unknown new entity among the Metallica ranks is the maniacal Rob Trujillo, formerly with thrash punk rock veterans Suicidal Tendencies. He commanded more of my visual attention than anyone besides maybe Lars. As far as I can tell, Trujillo is an ideal fit for the rumbling bass spot vacated by Jason Newsted. He lurks across every inch of the stage like a gorilla in search of much-needed prey. Trujillo’s facial expressions border on demonic, though he will offer an occasional grin, as if to suggest, “Can you believe they actually pay me for this?”
The second half of the set continued to build on the ever solid pace of the first. “Sad But True,” “Creeping Death” and a balls-out version of the
Master of Puppets favorite “Battery” had me scratching my head pondering how they would ever leave enough in the tank for an encore. But they did. All four members ducked below the intricate stage, which in better lighting resembled a giant spaceship pod. Only moments later, to the roaring approval of 15,000-plus, Hetfield and company reappeared to shred the remainder of this killer set. “I Disappear,” from the “Mission Impossible” soundtrack, got the encore jump started; however, the potent hammer hadn’t come close to being dropped for those who held tickets this night. The titanic crescendo unfolded when “Nothing Else Matters,” “Master of Puppets” and the militant “One” (with stunning “Full Metal Jacket” style pyros) were ushered out in continuous, ground-shaking order. Just when it seemed every sweat-soaked fan in the place was ready for the exits, that gloriously subtle opening riff of “Enter Sandman” repeated and grew. Few moments in this life are as mind numbing as experiencing that kind of epic song performed to that many appreciative patrons. And when thousands of strident fist-pumpers let loose with “off to never neverland!” in perfect harmony, you wish to be nowhere else in time.
The band and road crew creamed Trujillo with pies during a final encore of “Am I Evil?” to mark his one year anniversary with the band. According to the Website, this was just the second time Metallica had performed the closer “Metal Militia” live since 1985. Talk about shaking it up each night! Not that this exceptional show required another landmark moment.
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