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Metallica live!

| January 28, 2009 | 4 Comments

Metallica
Allstate Arena, Rosemont
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Metallica at Allstate
Click here to view more Metallica pics!

Hours before Metallica completed their two-night Allstate Arena stand, IE contributor Mike Meyer said, “You’re not going to see Metallica – you’re going to see Disney.” He wasn’t being disrespectful, rather trying to underscore the change in a band who no longer seek to destroy an audience, but entertain it. And he was right – in more ways than he intended. Tuesday night was for family.

In fact, “family” was a word frontman James Hetfield would repeat often. He applauded the youngsters in the stands and welcomed them. His “I can’t fucking hear you” routine was replaced by affirmations like “You make us feel good, Chicago.” By the end of the night, there were children on stage firing cans of silly string. We sang “Happy Birthday” to crew member and punched beach balls, fer crissakes.

Of course, Disney is also the best, and for a long time people said the same of Metallica. While a celebratory vibe was the two-hour set’s ultimate take-home, the band vacillated in such ways that defied their arena pedigree. Hetfield veered from post-rehab mantras (“The slave becomes the master!”) to hamming up bits of “One” and “Nothing Else Matters,” robbing them of the intensity that used to make them compelling. The intro to “The Day That Never Comes” was particularly frightful – following one of many band time-outs, the lights came up to reveal a forlorn Hetfield pensively plucking the opening notes. Guitarist Kirk Hammett stumbled over notes during solos and drummer Lars Ulrich continually mucked up cues and rhythm changes, miring the standard “(Welcome Home) Sanitarium” in slop.

Metallica boldly pushed a half-dozen songs from the new Death Magnetic (Warner Bros.), and initially the selections proved rather key. Openers “That Was Just Your Life” and “The End Of The Line” built early momentum and cut through a derelict laser-light effect borrowed from Queensryche’s 1990 Empire tour. The latter, however, combined with “The Day That Never Comes,” too eagerly campaigned to win back alienated fans, blatantly nicking whole sections from the classics “Creeping Death” and “Fade To Black,” respectively. “Broken, Beat & Scarred”‘s clunky starts and stops never penetrated the audience, and “Cyanide” stood in for the Load records, which the band have completely divorced.

The diehards were sated with some throwbacks (“Fight Fire With Fire,” the Misfits’ “Die, Die My Darling”) and the band delivered the “black” album (“Enter Sandman,” “Sad But True”) with professional, if rote obligation. The throngs packed around the stage devoured every part even when they could predict each scorching pyro blast, or when the teasing pauses during “Harvester Of Sorrow” and “Sandman” would end. Cell phones lit the air when lighters couldn’t be found, tubs of picks were flung as souvenirs, and life was grand.

But there’s a lingering discontent, if restroom chatter during one of the new songs was to be believed. Death Magnetic is Metallica trying to put things right: upped tempos, thrash ‘n’ burn riffage. But half of it is a Frankenstein’s monster of spare parts misshapen into songs. Despite the inference that the last 15 years didn’t happen, they continue to focus on their image above all else. “Come back because we’re the old us again,” they seem to be saying instead of understanding they can’t go back. We don’t mind the old stories. Just don’t rearrange the old ones and call ’em new. Not when you’re with family.

Steve Forstneger

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Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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Comments (4)

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  1. Gouge says:

    Interesting thoughts on the show for sure. Overall, I thought the show was great, despite some of the items mentioned in the review.

    Kirk’s “solo” was definitely odd to say the least. Also wish Lars would play the songs a little more true-to-form instead of adding as many fills as he can – is he that bored with the tunes?

    On big overall disappointment was the Allstate’s sound and parking situation. For $70+ a ticket and $20 to park, do you think they could fix the acoustics and hire someone to get us out of the parking lot in under one hour? And what was with the beer sales stopping at 9:00?

    Overall, you gotta give ‘Tally credit for still doing things the way they used to – – – you put out an album, your tour on that album and you play the new songs plus the classics. They are not a nostalgia band and you can’t say that for most older bands still out there nowadays (look at Kiss or the Stones).

    Rock on.

  2. Yep, Het says:

    Thanks. You are 100% correct. Stick a fork in them, they’re done.

  3. Predictable. Could have seen this one coming from a long way off. Called it before the concert. We were even laughing over beers how no matter what would have happened, the IE would rain down negativity on this concert. Jesus could have showed up during that concert, they could have played the entire Ride the Lighting and Master of Puppets albums, and there would have still been a problem. Hell even Mustaine himself could have showed up played all of the songs he helped write and Trevor would have hated the show.

    Probably a stretch.

    First off, I’m assuming this writer actually saw Queensryche in 1990? If not he should retract his statement as blasphemy and just another proverbial shot in the ribs to the Tallica boys. Not that they aren’t used to it. Seriously, are you writing a blurb in a review for affect based on a video you saw when you were in seventh grade?! Whose running this organization?!! Anyone needing to know whether or not the lasers were awesome needs to check out “You Tube”. Great opening and the crowd was loving it, which once again this paper failed to mention. The crowd was going nuts. Mosh pits, crowd surfin, and head banging at its best. Blew the doors off of Machine Head and the Sword who are clearly not ready for arena rock.

    It’s obvious you don’t like the new stuff. AND THAT’S FINE. But you make an inference that they just mailed in the performance and nothing can be more from the truth. That’s the main point I want to get out there. Every night Metallica shows up and DELIVERS. Plays a lot of old stuff and the album that they are touring on. The guy who first posted, hit it right on the head. They have never been a nostalgia band. They are still evolving, making music, and touring on it. Sure, they are not loaded up on booze, have many kids (present that night who wanted to see them do what they do) and are seeing, just like so many great bands before them, the aging of their audience. But to say that certain songs were “mired in slop”, or that he was “hamming it up” on “One “and “Nothing Else Matters”, and playing “Sad but true” and “Enter Sandman” out of pure ‘rote professionalism’ is a disgrace to you and your professionalism IE.

    You make it sound as if they showed up, did a half ass concert, through up some cheap lazers and lit some fire crackers, smiled at the crowd, shook Mickey and Goofy’s hand, and called it a day. The entire time unhappy to play those songs that you inference “sated” the “diehard” Metallica fans.

    THEY TOTALLY ROCKED THE ALLSTATE OUT! Gave it there all and and there fans new and old loved it.

    When James was talking about family that night I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean you IE.

    You mentioned that Metallica is only concerned about their image. What about yours IE?

  4. Chris Vandercook says:

    I saw a pretty mean metallica concert in Reddog’s living room the other day. Gonna need that double bass drum pedal thing to really get it right though.

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