Comedian Jim Breuer (who happened to open Wednesday night’s Metallica show) explained it perfectly. It’s those goosebumps you get as the lights go on and the anticipation of seeing a legendary group perform reaches it’s breaking point. It’s that chill in the air as people hold their breath until the band members reach the stage and jump right into a set that lasts long into the night. Sure, I love small club shows where it’s me and ten of my closest friends watching an up and coming band that is sure to make waves in a scene but I also love the big arena shows that give you those goosebumps and make you feel that chill.
Metallica is one of the few bands that truly needs no introduction. You’ve seen the logo and you’ve heard at least one song by them. It truly feels like everyone and their brother at least knows of this band and it kind of felt like all of those people showed up to the soggy Wednesday night show. The demographic that surrounded me can not be described. There was a little bit of everything from young to old, metal heads to females that looked like they could be a pop princess. Regardless, everyone shared a love for this legendary band and that is definitely all that really matters anyway.
With ten albums out dating back to the early 1908’s and more Grammy wins and nominations than I care to count, there’s no denying the influence of this heavy metal band. Although they have always stayed true to their heavy sound and shredding guitar solos, they somehow made metal music a bit more accessible and opened the eyes of millions of people into the world of heavy music. Their dedication to the craft is something that can’t be ignored and I would be lying if I said my jaw wasn’t on the floor with every solo that was presented throughout the two and a half hour set last night. There’s something magical about watching the four members of Metallica. They make it look so easy and so fun as if they have no clue that they are one of the biggest bands in the world.
That was the magic last night. Although still an arena show, there was something very intimate about the show. Maybe it was the way the band members ran through the crowd to get to the stage that was centered in the middle of the floor. Maybe it was the way they were throwing out drumsticks and picks every chance they got. It could have been the fact that there were multiple times when leaving the stage to change guitars that I watched the members reach into the crowd for a handshake or high five that probably meant absolutely everything to a very surprised and ecstatic fan in the crowd. There was just something about the show that screamed realness rather than rockstar and that will be something that sticks in my head for ages to come.
Last night wasn’t all kittens and rainbows. The first couple of songs performed seemed to have something wrong with the sound. I’m clearly not a sound person and respect anyone that does that for a living but something just sounded off for the first part of Metallica’s set. The stage in the round idea was interesting but the blocks of screens that hung and moved up and down from the ceiling obscured the view for the fans in the seats. It wasn’t a constant thing but it seemed like every time there was a shredding guitar solo, I was left watching a box of light instead of the musicianship I wanted to see. There were times when I was annoyed and about ready to go but then Metallica would jump into a song they hadn’t played in years and any annoyance I had would go away. Oh the power of music… it will never get old.
Their fifteen song set followed by three song encore was explosive but not over the top. Other than the screens hanging from the ceiling, the spinning drum kit stand and some fireworks, Metallica kept it about the music as they should. The fifth song they performed was “No Leaf Clover”. Although I wasn’t familiar with the song (okay, full disclosure– not a die hard fan), the excitement that exploded not only on the stage but also in the packed audience said everything that needed to be said. Metallica hadn’t played that song at a concert since December 2011 so that was definitely a treat whether you knew that little tidbit or not. You could see the excitement and pure joy on the band member’s faces as they finished up that song. “The last time we played that, Lars was a little girl!” Joked singer/ guitarist James Hetfield about drummer Lars Ulrich.
From the first note of “Hardwired” and until the final note of “Enter Sandman” was left hanging in the air, there was excitement and youth radiating from The Target Center. There was so much joy in the atmosphere that any issues you may have had with the show, setlist, performance, or any other complaints were forgotten in no time. Majority of the crowd was probably twice my age (the roar that happened when opener Jim Breuer asked anyone over the age of forty to cheer was deafening) but the way they enjoyed the show and sang along to every single word of every single song was truly magical to see and be part of.
I always talk about the difference between going to see a concert and going to see an experience. Last night was definitely an experience.
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