If I had to summarize the Metallica concert, at Rogers Arena on Friday night, in one single expression that would be it; Un-Motherfucking-Believable.
After looking into the set times for the show, I was told to show up at 7 pm sharp.
When I arrived at the arena, the entrances to the venue were blocked by enormous queues of eager fans. I quickly found the line with the least number of participants and jumped in. Despite my careful selection, I still ended up waiting close to 35 minutes to get in.
I was given a quick pat down and went through the doors. I ventured into the venue, excited about Metallica, and about the fact that it was being shot for a live DVD.
My first stop was the merchandise booth. I bought myself a new Metallica tour shirt, Canadian date specific, and a copy of both the limited edition poster and the mass-print poster. Then it was a quick beer stop and straight on to the floor.
While walking down the steel steps, I noticed the huge stage setup at the centre of the arena. It took up more than three-quarters of the entire floor. There were roughly about 15 feet, on average, between the stage and the surrounding boards of Rogers Arena. I looked up and noticed an elaborate contraption was set above the stage. There were enormous 25 foot long coffins, with giant stage lighting mounted inside. Between those were hundreds of additional lights, miles of cabling and a ton of electronic equipment. All were mounted to a rig, which was suspended from the roof.
I did a lap around the stage, found my spot, and then I waited. Within a few minutes, the stage lighting dimmed and the excited crowd began to scream. An announcer started the night off. I wondered who would take the spot, as it was previously taken by 3 Inches of Blood, but they lost the gig due to the restrictions caused by the rigging required to shoot this show in 3D. The openers name was announced; it was Jim Brewer. I found it strange that a comedian from the nineties hay-day of Saturday Night Live, would be starting the night off. But hey, I wasn’t complaining, he is a pretty funny guy.
He ran through his set. He ended it by playing the role of a hype-man. Jim tried to get the arena energized. It was obviously not his normal schtick, and it really didn’t resonate well. At best he had three-quarters of the audience participating, which was a little lacklustre. He thanked the crowd and then assured us that the boys in the band would be joining us shortly.
Well a short forty-five minutes later, the lights in the venue dimmed once again.
Every single person stood up and started loosing their fucking minds, as they should.
Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Trujillo stormed the stage. With little hesitation they leapt into their performance, starting the night off with Creeping Death. This had the audience participating immediately, with the sold-out house chanting “Die! Die!”.
From that moment on the night was a blur of intensity. I was in the mosh pit. I was there, and I was loosing my mind along with everyone else.
As the band rolled into the second song, For Whom The Bell Tolls, the electrically charged floor erupted into chaos. I used all my energy to leap around to the rhythm of the song. Those around me were doing the same. I looked up and saw Hetfield standing mere feet away. I looked around and saw three camera men filming us. This drove us to a new level. The mosh pit loosened apart and we began slamming into one another. The men were soon separated from the boys as the weak moved to the outer rim of the pit. We were driven by the music and to a lesser extent by the cameras. It was the starting point of what would be the single most amazing mosh pit moment in my life.
Throughout the show, there were a ton of theatrical accoutrement to the music. Everything was perfectly orchestrated.
When the band played One (my favourite Metallica song of all time), the opening war soundtrack was accompanied by fireballs, lasers and strobe lights, coordinated to align with the gun fire, bomb explosions and helicopter flybys. It was impeccably timed and perfectly delivered. During Welcome Home four stage hands came out and erected a “Lady Justice” Doris statue, which when complete was about 40 feet tall. The band continued with their set and strolled into …And Justice For All. Halfway through the song, the statue fell to pieces, leaving Lady bits everywhere.
As the night went on each song constantly one upped the last. The culmination of the evening was when a seemingly real stage mishap, during Enter Sandman, had the overhead rigging come crashing down, a stage hand catch fire, another stage hand fall 20 feet, and sparks and smoke shooting out of various electrical components. It was quite the site, and impeccably executed. For those who were not paying close attention, it seemed very real. I heard many people in the crowd getting quite upset.
The band and crew then scattered around the stage as emergency crew members hauled off the injured workers. Hetfield helped the illusion along by talking to the crowd through a backup mic, and ensuring that this was very real and that we all needed to stay calm. Slowly the house lights came on, and some backup equipment was brought out. The band then carried on with the show as if pushing through a small tragedy.
During the last song, a sea of black inflatable beach balls rained down on the audience. Seek & Destroy permeated the air with potency as the balloons bounced across the outstretched fingers of the eager. It was fucking awesome, to say the least.
The band then thanked the crowd and did the usual toss out of guitar picks and drumsticks. I was lucky enough to get picks from both Hetfield and Trujillo, and I also ended up getting one of the inflatable balls.
This show will go down in infamy. I cannot wait to get the DVD when it hits the market. The boys in Metallica, along with an undeniably amazing crew, pulled off a stunning and one-of-a-kind show. Those in attendance should count themselves lucky. Shows like that do not happen often. The fact that Metallica hand-picked Vancouver as their site, to me seemed like pure luck. Whatever the reasoning behind it, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, we were given a balls-to-the-wall, no-hold-barred master lesson in kick-assery and it was un-mother-fucking-believable!
For those of you who are interested, here is the full setlist:
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Ride the Lightning (With electric chair and Tesla … more)
The Memory Remains
Wherever I May Roam
Sad but True
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
…And Justice for All (With “Lady Justice” Doris; … more)
Fade to Black
Master of Puppets (With crosses rising from stage)
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman (With stage accident)
Hit the Lights
Seek & Destroy (With The Frayed Ends of Sanity outro jam)