In the words of my older sister, "it just won't be the same without Slack "opening" or the lawn fires", but it was still pretty awesome. I've never seen such a collection of bad asses in one place at one time.
In my quest to find a 15 dollar ticket (successful by the way) I came across a guy with an extra. He said he'd rather take in his ticket and waste it than sell it to me for 15 bucks because he got it for free. Some people man. I asked him what the logic of this was and he just looked at me like a five year old who owned the only dodge ball. That's fine, I told him, see you inside. I got to see the show for 15 bucks anyway and he's still a prick.
When I heard the name of the opening band was Lamb of God, I was excited to see a wholesome, nice group of young men with heavenly voices and a fine message. Not really. Lamb of God were your typical heavy metal, head banging, throat screaming band. It was great. Like a scene out of Wayne's World. One highlight for me was when the singer gave a shout out to his good friend Hank Williams III and described Hank Sr.'s being banned from the Grand Ole Opry as bull shatner. Fun show but also a good opportunity to get a fresh beer and use the mensa.
After Lamb of God the roadies scurried around to prepare for the Metallica spectacle that was soon to follow. The stage was in the middle of the arena, as opposed to at one end, which was pretty cool. With 8 mics on each long side and 2 on each end, the band was free to run amok and please every head bangin crowd member. The coffin light rigs were pretty cool too.
The lights went down, and the band came out. And from that moment on, ROCK. Awesome lasers, lights and pyrotechnics added to the face melting rock provided by the band. Kirk Hammett laid down some of the sickest lead guitar ever. James Hetfield was like one of Hinton's Outsiders but with a screaming guitar and a bad attitude during the songs, which turned to an old buddy between numbers. Robert Trujillo on bass was a monster. He actually looked like a silver back gorilla and rocked that bass down around his knees and ran around like a man on fire. Probably the most entertaining member for me, all music aside. I've never really had much respect for that Lars Ulrich, or any other sad sack of crap named Lars for that matter, but tonight I have to say he worked really hard and did a pretty good job of playing Metallica songs on the drums. And then just when I was getting ready to give him props, he got on the mic and reminded us of how big of a basket he is.
At this point I have to mention the guy outside in the smoking section talking on the phone to his girlfriend. He was sobbing, tearing his eyes out, talking about how the songs connected to him and the Black Album was so important and Metallica was so special. You'd expect this at an Elton John show or a Jonas Brothers concert or even Paul McCartney. But Metallica? Get a damned hold of yourself man!
The show wound down with a stellar rendition of "Nothing Else Matters" mostly with Hetfield singing and playing alone. It was a nice calm before the "Enter Sandman" storm that would close the "regulation" part of the show. In the break before the encore, the roadies loaded another Marshall stack amp onto the stage leading us to believe that this would be another Nashville sit in. Who would it be? Vince Gill? The wonderful John Hiatt? Tim and Faith? NO. Try Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead! Awesome! He came out and led the band through a pair of Motorhead songs which I'm sorry to say I didn't know the names of. But they were sick none the less, including a classic back to back lean between Hetfield and Lemmy. The encore closed with a loud, intense version of "Seek and Destroy" with Hetfield making the fans promise to "leave everything they had in this arena." The grand finale was about 50 huge black beach balls falling from the ceiling and bouncing around. After the song ended the band spent about 5 minutes throwing every pick and drumstick they had out into the crowd. It was nice to see such humble appreciation for the fans who have made this band great for the last 20 some odd years.
As a guy who's not "necessarily" a Metallica fan, this show was pretty great. The energy in the crowd was contagious and the band showed us why they are still one of the best acts around.