To say that I had waited a long time in between Metallica concerts is an understatement. I, along with the majority or North America, have patiently waited as we fans have not had a proper tour by the metal icons in almost seven years. When the show in Minneapolis was announced back in March it was just a goof when I thought about trying to get in on the fan club pre-sale. So when the allotted time came and I scored some good lower level tickets, it was both instinct and impulse that trigged my finger to click on the ‘Buy” button. The first thing I did after the purchase was calculate out exactly how many days that the count would end in between Metallica shows for me – 2513. Two days after the fan club pre-sale once tickets went on general sale 50,000 tickets sold out in under ten minutes.
Granted this was going to be a 3,200 mile round trip journey to see them for my fifth time and as the show date got closer word of Metallica’s (also long awaited) first studio album since 2008 would be released in mid-November and a likely North American tour to follow in 2017. This news did not deter travel plans in order wait until next year and let that daily counter get any higher.
In the days before the show Metallica announced a pop-up store would open downtown near the stadium for the day before and day of the concert. The band did make an appearance to mingle with fans and do a live radio interview but I missed them being a couple of hours too early. Although the venture did allow me to pick up a killer shirt that was exclusive to the one off event and would not be on sale at the show.
Metallica with Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat were to be the first rock show at the recently opened US Bank Stadium (and second overall concert as Luke Bryan played there the night before) and with the electricity and anticipation I sensed in the crowd waiting to enter in the stadium and in the merchandise lines inside you could just feel we were in for the monstrous metal opening the new stadium warranted. One of the themes for the show was ‘Ride the Viking’ which is a play on words between Metallica’s ‘Ride the Lightning’ release and of course the new stadium’s home team, the Minnesota Vikings. On sale was a kick ass shirt with that theme, so that too is now in my wardrobe.
Volbeat opened the show and certainly had a strong following of their faithful fans and just killed in their 45 minute long set. They showered the crowd with their unique sound and certainly showed their appreciation of the fans’ support throughout their set, giving us three new songs off of their recent release ‘Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie’ and mixed in some of my favorite older tunes of theirs. Acoustically I thought the band sounded good for being in such a large venue, they certainly opened the show in their own style and left us wanting more. This was my fifth time see them also and every time I’ve seen them they give their all in their live performance. They are such a great band to see live and I really like their musical style. They have become one of my favorite (what I consider) newer bands.
Avenged Sevenfold was next up and there was certainly a percentage of fans in attendance that this was the band they came to see and Metallica just happened to be playing after them. From their first notes when they hit the stage the crowd was on their feet and fired up, just hungry for their sound and glad these guys were back on the scene after some time away from touring (they did play a free local show two nights before this one as a warm up gig and to reconnect with their local fans). The elaborate plumes of fire on stage are pretty mesmerizing as they coincide with the music. This was my second time seeing them and although I am not really familiar with their music beyond what I hear on the radio and XM, I will say they sure left the crowd satisfied, myself included, and ready for the main event.
Then it was time for the icons of thrash metal to take the stage and in one sense my journey was complete, yet it was only starting. I grew up on this band, often sharing the fact that I felt their ‘Master of Puppets’ CD, released back in my metal formative teenage years (1986), was a defining moment in metal and overall musical history for my generation. As the lights dimmed and the crowd of 50,000 strong roared, Metallica took the stage opening with their crushing classic ‘Creeping Death’, instantly exploding an absolute wall of metal hitting your ears, the kind of loud that makes you feel like your bones are rattling inside your body. They continued along with another of their timeless classics ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ (my second favorite Metallica song behind ‘Blackened’), after which as James addressed the crowd he mentioned “…we’re here to test this place with full-volume.” Next up was ‘Fuel’ and as the song played streams of fire shot into the air on each side of the stage, my seat close enough to where I could feel the heat given off. The set list just absolutely jammed on from there and was stocked full of fan and my own favorites playing out literally as a greatest hits compilation spanning the band’s career.
Metallica performed 19 songs off of nine albums: Kill ‘Em All (1), Ride the Lightning (3), Master of Puppets (4), …And Justice for All (1), Metallica (5), Load (1), Reload (2), Garage Inc. (1) and Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (1)
I thought it was a bit odd them playing ‘Master of Puppets’ as the song before ‘Battery’ with those two being in reverse order on the CD where ‘Battery’ is such a perfect lead into ‘Master of Puppets’. The crowd was as loud singing the chorus as James was on ‘Seek and Destroy’, which is another of the band’s thrash metal masterpieces. For this show the band offered members of their fan club the chance to vote on a song to be included into the set and although the song I voted for did not win (‘The Four Horsemen’), with the choices available one could not go wrong with the eventual winner and we were treated with the rarely played live ‘Leper Messiah’. Later in the show after ‘Fade Black’ James admitted jokingly that he missed a section of vocals in ‘Leper Messiah’ because it had been so long since they had played that song, the band then played the part they missed so we as fans could enjoy the song in its entirety.
The band sounded crisp and clear and they sure had the volume cranked up. As I mentioned earlier about the acoustics in such a large venue I thought they sounded great from my vantage point on the lower level angled just off to the right of the stage. James’ vocals were strong and both he and Kirk are still metal shredding gods on guitar. Rob had has his unique simian like strut on display as he is jamming across the stage and I think Lars is still as impressive as he is precise on drums.
No one song stood out to me as better than the others or as my favorite of the night because I thought every song was freaking killer. As expected with the news of a new CD upcoming and the release of a new song, to the delight of the crowd the band did debut their old-school back to sounding like a thrash band again new single ‘Hardwired’ with the opening of their encore. As ‘Enter Sandman’ and the show was ending surprisingly there was quite the fireworks show shooting off on each side of the stage – it was quite an impressive display given the fact that it was in an indoor stadium. One more thing to note on just how loud this show was, one local media outlet reported the concert was heard more than a mile away from the stadium. http://www.twincities.com/2016/08/20/metallica-cranks-up-the-volume-for-sold-out-u-s-bank-stadium-show/
It goes without saying that I thought the trip was completely worth the time, effort and money spent (did make it a little mini vacation by staying for a few days). What started off as a goof and a crazy idea turned into being a part of Metallica musical history, seeing a new city, and enjoying the comradery we metalheads enjoy alongside one another. When Metallica tours next year by all means make an effort to see this iconic and still amazing band live before they do eventually call it quits. One last thing to note, I was quite aware the day after the show of having a bit of a sore neck, which of course I knew it was from the concert. After returning home and getting an appointment for a massage which I had asked to pinpoint on my neck and shoulders, the masseuse said that I exhibited signs of whiplash and my immediate thought was how freaking metal is that – giving yourself whiplash head banging at a Metallica concert. \m/
James Hetfield – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Kirk Hammett – lead guitar, backing vocals
Robert Trujillo – bass, backing vocals
Lars Ulrich – drums, percussion
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Memory Remains
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Sad But True
Wherever I May Roam
Master of Puppets
Fade to Black
Seek and Destroy
Hardwired (Live Debut)
Whiskey in the Jar
Nothing Else Matters