ST. LOUIS - After an absence of nearly nine years, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo brought Metallica's larger- and louder-than-life show back to the Gateway City.
For more than two hours, the band played to a packed house at Busch Stadium. Playing from a catalog covering almost four decades, Metallica had the crowd screaming all night.
The rain-soaked show on Sunday, June 4, opened with Chicago's Local H, winner of Metallica's “Hit the Stage” contest. Scott Lucas and Ryan Harding hit the stage and kicked off the night as the crowd filed into the stadium under a light but steady shower. They got things started on a hard-driving, high-tempo note and it didn't let up.
Following the opener, Volbeat came out swinging. Even as the rain picked up, the boxing ring-themed stage set up held the hard rockers from Denmark, supporting their “Seal the Deal & Let's Boogie” album. With fists in the air, the crowd screamed along with songs like “A Warrior's Call,” “The Devil's Bleeding Crown” and their newest release, “Seal the Deal.”
Following a slight delay as the crew assembled a tarp and frame to keep the persistent rain off the drums, the house lights dropped out as the strains of Ennio Morricone's “The Ecstasy of Gold.” Thundering right out of the gate with the title track of the newest album – “Hardwired … to Self-Destruct” – Metallica left no doubt that they are still the top of their field.
With 10 studio albums to draw from, picking a set list has to be the biggest challenge for this band. While trying to keep things fresh for each show, Metallica shuffles their shows for each outing. After the opener and “Atlas, Rise” from the newest album, the band jumped back to 1984 with “For Whom The Bell Tolls.” Just before kicking into “Moth Into Flame,” frontman James Hetfield referenced the flub at this year's Grammy performance, making sure the microphone was working this time.
“Now That We're Dead,” also from the new album, included an interlude with all four members of the band playing giant taiko drums, while “One” – the war-themed song that birthed the band's first video – kicked off with pyrotechnics to simulate a World War II battlefield.
Aside from the rain, the only part of the night that could be called a speedbump was the introduction to “Fade to Black.” The acoustic guitar that Hetfield used to start the song didn't sound quite right, so he had his guitar tech come out and check the tuning. After spending a few moments trying to resolve the issue, Hetfield handled it in true Metallica style: He kicked the acoustic and its stand across the stage and played the intro on his trusty ESP electric and carried on with the show.
Hetfield gave the closest thing to a statement on current events and politics of the evening:
“We [don't care] who you are, what you've done, what religion you believe, what politics you follow, what you do or don't eat. The fact is, you are Metallica family, because you're here right now, celebrating life with Metallica!”
And celebrate St. Louis did.