So three days later, just as my ears stopped ringing, it was time for round two and a show I knew was going to be very different.
Last night, Wednesday May 17, 2017, Metallica performed at NYCB LIVE, Home of The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - I believe the only ARENA show of the tour. Instead of the 50,000 plus they are typically playing to on this US Summer STADIUM tour, this was more like 15,000. Instead of the largest stage with the tallest video screens I've ever seen, I knew they were playing in the round at the center of the arena at this show, so what would they do about all the video which was such a big part of the stadium show from the weekend? It would surely be different, but would it be as good without all the spectacle?
The answer for those lucky enough to get tickets (and with pockets deep enough - the cheapest seats for this show were about $160 with all charges...ours were $193...and those are Ticketmaster, not scalper prices) was a resounding yes.
We walked in as VOLBEAT were about halfway through their set (Avenged Sevenfold was not billed for this show) and we were pleased to see how close we were. The stage was square but placed like a diamond in the middle of the arena with Lars' drum kit covered in the middle while VOLBEAT played it. Otherwise the stage was bare with the amplifiers hanging from the ceiling. No video screens were visible as expected.
VOLBEAT ended their solid set and there was a short break during which the cover was removed from Lars' drum kit. Then before we knew it, the lights dimmed and Metallica's standard opening music, "The Ecstasy of Gold," started playing. There was such an excitement in the room as everyone stood and cheered and looked down at the stage which suddenly came to life...with video. Basically the stage was the video screen and the static intro to Hardwired started playing. Then the crowd roared again as we saw James, Lars, Kirk and Robert running from out of nowhere along one of the barriers up onto the stage and they kicked into the standard opening salvo of this tour - "Hardwired" followed immediately by "Atlas, Rise!"
After the stadium experience it was amazing how this setup, open on all sides made it feel like you were at a club show! The band seemed to feel the same way and I think enjoyed being surrounded by their "family" as James consistently addressed the crowd throughout the night.
Next up was the first classic with an amazing version of "For Whom The Bell Tolls" which had everyone singing along at the top of their lungs. Then the fun of going to any Metallica show began...how would they change up the set?
Metallica know many of their fans will go to multiple shows on the tour and always create a standard setlist with numerous spots where they will switch up the songs. While every show on this tour so far has opened with the three tunes I just mentioned, the fourth slot is one of those mystery slots and we got treated to another classic from their second album "Ride The Lightning", in this case - the title track! (FYI - at the Sunday show we got "Fuel" in this slot)
Here's video I shot of it:
They went back to the standard setlist for the next three songs, first up giving us all a bit of a breather after that opening with "The Unforgiven"
Next up would be the first of another double shot of new tunes starting with "Now That We're Dead"...and the drum jam.
About half way through the song Lars starts doing a bit of a drum solo and then suddenly appearing on stage are giant drums for each member of the band and they proceed to spend a few minutes doing a sort of drum circle with Lars as conductor.
When they busted into this at MetLife on Sunday I thought it was just cheesy and when they did it again up close, well my opinion didn't change. I find it silly and it doesn't add anything to the song but I will say all my friends seem to have a completely different opinion of it than me and thought it was cool...oh well minor complaint and only one of two I had.
Next up was "Moth Into Flame". As you can see the early part of the setlist is heavily stacked with new tunes, four out of the first seven songs at this point, but overall the audience stays right there with them through this and next up comes another mystery slot in the setlist. Now on Sunday we got "Wherever I May Roam" in this slot (one of five songs from the Black album on that night), but tonight we got our first (and not last) taste of the "And Justice For All" album with "Harvester of Sorrow". The crowd of course approved!
Now the big surprise and my other complaint from the Sunday show. We're up to the ninth song of the set and on Sunday we got "Halo on Fire" in this slot. That was the only time on Sunday I saw the crowd participation wane. For a band with so many classics, five of the first nine songs to be new ones was just too much and there was a pretty decent size mass exodus to the bathrooms and/or beer lines during this on Mother's Day. Tonight would be very different.
When those first notes of "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" rang out, anyone who was sitting jumped to their feet. Hands down "Master of Puppets" is my favorite Metallica album and this was a fantastic surprise as I didn't expect this to even be another mystery slot in the setlist as "Halo on Fire" was played in this spot on every other show of the tour so far. It was awesome.
Here's the video I took of it:
Now we reach a turning point in the set. All the new songs, as good and well received as they are, are out of the way and we're going into the home stretch to hear some classics, but first there is a Guitar/Bass jam with Kirk and Robert which leads into Robert's bass solo which on this tour is basically a cover of Cliff Burton's "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)" and at this point in the set we always get to hear a mystery song off "Kill 'Em All". On Sunday we got "Whiplash" which was awesome as "Anesthesia" is the natural lead-in...tonight I was hoping for either "The Four Horsemen" or "Phantom Lord" and my prayers were answered when we got "The Four Horsemen". Man I was loving these mystery slots tonight!
The last five songs before the encore have been standard starting with an ultra heavy version of "Sad But True" followed by an epic performance of "One"
The title track of my aforementioned favorite Metallica album "Master of Puppets" was next and was another highlight in a show filled with quite a few of them.
"Fade to Black" was next and then the main set ended with a huge sing along of "Seek and Destroy" with James talking to the crowd quite a bit before hand and it was one of the most heartfelt talks I've ever seen James have with a crowd (I've seen Metallica 14 or 15 times). He joked around and then pointed out an 11 year old at his first Metallica concert and told him how he had cool parents. He asked the crowd how many of them were attending their first Metallica concert by show of hands and I was shocked to see almost half the crowd because tickets for this show were much harder to get and pricier than the stadium shows, but then again, having not seen the band before doesn't mean you're not hardcore, some of us are just old bastards with years of opportunity! When James saw all the hands he jokingly said "What took you all so long...we've been around 36 years!" Just a great attitude and you could see he was loving the up close interaction.
There was a quick encore break and the last mystery slot of the night would be the first song of the encore. In NJ we got "Fight Fire With Fire" but here we got one that was totally unexpected, the opening track off "And Justice For All" - a brutal "Blackened"!
Here's the video I took:
The encore set closes out with more or less Metallica's biggest two hits starting with "Nothing Else Matters" and of course ending with "Enter Sandman"
I'm glad I got to see both shows and experience the spectacle of the stadium show and the intimacy of the arena show (which definitely sounds like an oxymoron). I thought there was a better balance of songs at the show last night. Both sets were 18 songs, but on Sunday the breakdown was 5 new ones, 5 Black Album, 3 Ride, 2 Kill, 1 Justice, 1 Master, 1 Reload. Last night it was 4 new, 4 black, 3 Ride, 3 Justice, 2 Kill and 2 Master.
Metallica are one of those bands at this point you're always going to leave going "Man I wish they played..." because they just have so many albums, but I got to hear 23 different songs across the two shows, so I can't complain. (Okay...one complaint...how is "Creeping Death" not a standard...the "Die! Die! Die!" chant is always such an awesome live experience)
So hopefully in the winter Metallica will bring this setup back around to the area arenas and I'll get to do it a few more times. If you're a fan, I'd suggest you check it out too, the band is on fire on this tour.
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