Monday, February 09, 2009

Metallica at the TD Banknorth Center, 01/18/2009; Prudential Center, 01/31/2009

JaymzI haven't seen Metallica live since the Load days, nor been too upset by this, considering their material hasn't made me jump up and down with glee in a while. But their latest, Death Magnetic, really is an excellent release, so I jumped at the chance to catch them on this tour.

I had the good fortune to catch them twice: from the 4th row on the floor in Boston, and from the 8th row in a section right next to the stage in Newark (big thanks to Mark Yarm and Blender magazine). Much like the gigs they did for "The Black Album", the band is "in the round" for this tour, meaning that the stage is in the very center of the auditorium. James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo run all over the place so everyone gets a chance to see them throughout the night, plus Lars Ulrich and his drum set rotate every few songs as well. In theory this sounds great, but in actuality there's quite a few times where the band can't be seen because they're across the stage or their backs are to you.

Fortunately the band was in top form, so even if there were times when one couldn't see them, the audience was still treated to an excellent performance. Six songs from the album with "the little coffin on it" were played, and while a lot of people hate it when bands play new material, I felt they went over really well with the crowd. There was no shortage of fan favorites either, with "One", "Enter Sandman", and "Master of Puppets" really getting huge reactions. And the truly faithful were treated to some extra goodies, with "...And Justice For All" being played in full, plus "Ride the Lighning" and "Blitzkrieg" making appearances in Newark.

What really impressed me during these shows was just how much fun the band was having, and how hard they worked to engage the audience. I've now seen Metallica half a dozen times, and they are one of the few bands (I'd put U2 on this very short list) that are flawless in just about every way live. They are true professionals: they play well, have great stage presence, engage the audience in a genuine matter, and make it all seem effortless. In Newark they even pulled an eight year old boy out of the audience onto the stage. The look of awe on his face as Lars pointed out the immense size of the audience to him was priceless, which continued as Lars sat him down on the drum kit for photos, then let him do the intro cymbal hits to "Seek & Destroy".

James light heartedly encouraged passing the heavy metal down to future generations by telling the boy to come on back when he has children of his own since, "We'll still be here." Judging by the energy I saw those two nights, I don't doubt it.

(For more information, set lists, and full downloads (mp3 and flac) for all shows Metallica has played lived on this tour, visit


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