Ladies and gentlemen of The Metal Republic we were witnessing a time of absolute chaos because it seemed that indeed Hell had frozen over. Okay, so maybe that is just a little dramatic but let’s be honest with each other here for a second. When did you ever think that you would see these four titans of the Thrash Metal movement doing any shows together? To me this was one of those kinds of events that you only postulated about happening when you talked to your Metal colleagues while hanging out and debating this stuff and yet here we were and it was truly happening. Actually, it had already happened over in Europe several months ago when you think about it. Despite that, it was amazing to know that Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax would be performing together under the title of “The Big Four” in the United States and after a successful event over in California, this evening it would be taking place at the home of the world’s greatest baseball franchise, the one and only Yankee Stadium. For me this would be the second time that I ever attended a show at this particular space – Oh wait, that was at the “Old” Yankee Stadium. Sorry friends. The running order of the show would be Anthrax first followed by Megadeth and then Slayer with Metallica closing up the entire event. That worked for me and I felt that all bands were in the proper order when it came down to the overall popularity of each of them. I was fortunate enough to be sitting in the Press Box for the show which meant that instead of being down in the swirling masses, that I was high above like the sportscasters usually are when there are baseball games. It was a different head for sure, but still I would be able to enjoy the event and bring you the scoop. Here is how it went down for those who for whatever reason on Earth would miss it.
Anthrax: The boys from the Bronx were on home ground tonight as four of the five band members actually hail from the borough of The Bronx. Just prior to the bands set this evening they were honored by borough president Ruben Diaz who declared September 14th, Anthrax Day in the Bronx. He gave a light speech that featured a number of the bands song titles and while some of this made me cringe there were others that brought a chuckle. I was happy to know that the band was getting such an honor and think that it was awesome to be recognized. This would be my second time this week seeing Anthrax as the band performed over at The Best Buy Theater only a couple of days prior to this at a surprise “secret show” as the Satan’s Lounge Band. This show was free for the fans who purchased the bands just released “Worship Music” CD. Set wise this performance tonight would be exactly the same but minus two numbers from the other show. Only two songs would come from the new release and the rest were left to the bands time honored classics. They were clearly energetic on the stage and some felt that they had the most to prove tonight because they were now back with singer Joey Belladonna after some craziness with their fourth singer and they were also hoping to have this new album be one that reminded people of how much ass they can kick. Having grown up on Anthrax tunes I do enjoy the classics but can agree with those friends who feel that some of these gems need to be swapped out every once in awhile to keep things interesting. I loved their energy but they were over before you knew it and the audience was still filing in while they performed so not as many people got to see them as I knew wanted to. Now for some Megadeth.
Anthrax Set List: Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t, Got The Time, Madhouse, Caught In A Mosh, Antisocial, The Devil You Know, Indians, Metal Thrashing Mad, I Am The Law
Megadeth: The chatter on Monday night at the Metal Masters 2 event was that Dave Mustaine had injured himself and hence backed out of the Big Four tour but the rumor was quickly dispelled when it was confirmed that they would indeed play not long after this first arose. Talk about a sigh of relief because the fans were here today to see as much as they could and not lose out on a complete set from a much appreciated band. Tonight’s set would be much different from the last time that I caught Megadeth and be more of a “Greatest Songs” compilation. I preferred that and was slowly growing tired of the full album presentations that have been happening again and again of late. The band seemed to touch upon quite a few releases and Mustaine made mention about his being in the hospital getting his injury addressed so he would not miss this show. Since he was under doctor’s scrutiny he did not move about the stage all that much this time around and left that to Ellefson and Broderick. I didn’t mind as its best Dave recovers because the band’s new album on Roadrunner Records was due out in a little over a month. It will be called “Thirteen”. The audience at the stadium would get a taste of this release with “Public Enemy #1” and it’s a solid tune that worked well with the bands classics of “Holy Wars” and “Peace Sells”. I felt that they sounded great and were their usual technically proficient selves. The set went over well and the moshing, while it had begun during Anthrax, was getting a little more impressive during the Megadeth set. Oh and this would also be the first time that I ever saw their mascot Dick Rattlehead making an appearance. I don’t recall ever seeing this before tonight but then again I have not seen Megadeth on every single tour also so I might have missed it. It was not as imposing as Iron Maiden’s Eddie and was more of a dude wearing a suit and the mask but it was still pretty cool. The sun was now gone and it was time for Slayer. I feared for some of the fans as I thought of this.
Megadeth Set List: Trust, Hangar 18, She Wolf, Public Enemy #1, Headcrusher, Tout Le Monde, Sweating Bullets, Symphony Of Destruction, Peace Sells But Who’s Buying, Holy Wars (The Punishment Due)
Slayer: The chanting of Slayer began several minutes before the darkest band of the Big Four took to the stage and it was intense when they finally hit the boards. It was like an explosion but then again when isn’t a Slayer like this? The response to the band when they first appeared was insane and it almost seemed as though they were one of the biggest points of appeal to the crowd. I liked seeing this because Slayer has continually delivered at show after show. This one would be a little different though as guitarist Jeff Hanneman was not present after being quite ill thanks to a spiders bit in early 2011. In his place would be Gary Holt from the other legends of Thrash…..Exodus. Truly the material was in good hands. Singer/bassist Tom Araya was also dealing with some recent issues after having a back surgery so there was not going to be as much head banging coming from him. One could almost say that guitarist Kerry King was the only true member of the band with lots of mobility this evening. We do hope that Jeff recovers soon and the same applies for Tom. From my vantage point all I could see was a swirling mass of humanity as the fans down below made almost the entire floor a circle pit. Even though I was far away in the Press Box I was feeling my blood pump a little faster as the band delivered tunes like “Chemical Warfare”, “Dead Skin Mask” and “Seasons In The Abyss”. I had to say that even though he was not moving around all that much, Araya was bringing his A Game to the table vocally and no matter which way I looked I saw heads bopping in time with their frenzied melodies. Drummer Dave Lombardo reminded us why he is one of the kings of this kind of drumming and during the closing number of “Angel Of Death” he increased the length of time where the double bass drum break strikes you by about three more measures. Sick. Totally sick. When their set was over I envisioned a run on all of the stadium bars so the fans could replenish all the liquids their bodies lost during the killer performance. I love Metallica tunes but this would be a hard set to follow up no matter who you were.
Metallica: Shortly before Metallica hit the stage at the now very visibly packed stadium, the media contact for the franchise came over the speakers that we alone could hear and said “attention media, the in house attendance for tonight is 41k +”. That almost brought a tear to my eyes as I continually hear from friends outside of my Metal ones that this music is dead and no one supports it anymore. They could not be more wrong. As the headliner Metallica was tasked with upping every single notch possible and let’s face it they are excellent in concert so that should not be too difficult to do. They would open with “Creeping Death” and get everyone riled up even more with “For Whom The Bell Tolls” as the follow up. Two absolute classics without a doubt and numbers that brought the excitement up a few levels before it was brought down just a little bit by the song “Fuel”. The roller coaster hit its precipice once again as “Ride The Lightning” and “Fade To Black” came up. It was amazing to hear that many people singing along with Hetfield during “Fade” but this song had long had an impact on many of these people’s younger years so I was not surprised at all. The band’s latest album was “Death Magnetic” and that came out last year so it was par for the course to deliver a couple of its brightest examples. We got “Cyanide” and “All Nightmare Long” and that would be it. Fortunately for everyone in attendance there was nothing delivered from the lambasted “St. Anger”. I had to chuckle when I read the live blog feed from my press box neighbors at Metal Sucks when they typed “What, nothing from St. Anger!!! (one person in Yankee Stadium) – it was amusing to say the least and I was also learning how one live blogs. It’s time consuming that’s for sure. The band was on fire and while Lars kept steady time on the drums, bassist Robert Trujillo prowled the stage like a hungry monster and just was terminating that bass for every single tune. I had to say that while I loved what Jason Newstead brought to the band some years ago, Robert upped the game something fierce. We would also find lead guitarist Kirk Hammett playing leads like a man possessed. When the time for a lead break would come, many a fan in the audience would also be reaching for their air guitar and mentally help him along.
James would dedicate “Orion” to Cliff Burton and the stadium exploded in response and from here on out there would not be a bad song in the remainder of the set list. Well, at least as far as I was concerned. The bombs and flash pots went off like a warzone for “One” and while everyone seemed happy with that one, it was nothing like the response that “Master Of Puppets” received. “Nothing Else Matters” was another song that had the whole place singing along and since lighters are not much in fashion anymore we had the cell phone displays a blazing for all to see us from far away. It made for a nice visual. At the closing notes of “NEM” James displayed a guitar pick that showcased the Yankee Stadium Big 4 Event and it had some kind of baseball design to it. I only knew this from seeing it presented on the big screen since I was not close enough to see with my own eyes. I envy anyone that managed to catch one of these since this has become one of my hobbies after seeing so many shows. It happens. We would get the obvious “commercial” hit with “Enter Sandman” and I love watching everyone around me play the drum fill intro parts. Yes I do it also so please know that I was not making fun. This would bring us to the end of the proper set and at other points on these special tours the band was delivering “Am I Evil” which is as you know a Diamond Head song. It was reported that on the West Coast they did Moorhead’s “Overkill” instead and that would be the same thing tonight. I guess this was a nice change of pace but I did think that the Diamond Head tune would have sparked a little more response from the fans (especially when you consider how this band just played NYC a couple of weeks ago). They’re starving just a little more than Motorhead is but I digress. Almost all of the musicians from the other bands joined Metallica onstage for this one and that was insane. I noticed that Dave Mustaine was absent for this but it made sense considering his recent stint in the hospital. He obviously needed to watch himself or risk worse injury. The band said goodnight but you knew it was not over yet. After the stage was cleared a few moments went by before Metallica returned to deliver the surprising choice of “Battery”. This is one of my favorite tunes from the bands repertoire and it was delivered with excellence. The closing tune would be the almost expected “Seek And Destroy” and while I really enjoy this one I feel that there is just too much crowd sing along to it. Sure do it a couple of times or three but don’t make it interminable like Halford does with “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” at Priest shows. Despite my minor qualm about that aspect the song definitely closed up the evening like gangbusters. The long Metal day into the night had finally completed and there was nothing left to do but go home and remember every single second and perhaps watch some of the YouTube.com clips that fans very likely will have uploaded.
My rating scale for the event as a whole would have to be like this, Anthrax received an “A” for most enthusiastic performance. Megadeth an “A” for technical precision. Slayer an “A+” for overall intensity of delivery and Metallica an “A+” for having the most popular and possibly best songs and set overall. I could not imagine that anyone left the stadium this evening feeling disappointed or that they left out something. How could they have? It seemed impossible and if there was someone with an issue about the gig then I think we need to have their Metal paperwork looked into a little bit to see if they deserve them. This incredible event makes me wonder when we shall get to enjoy the “Big Five through Eight” or Exodus, Overkill, Testament and Possessed or Death Angel (I’ll take either of the two). This was a fantastic day for those who believe in the power of Metal. I walked away proud to be a fan of this stuff and I think the other 41,000 plus did as well. It was awesome to find this kind of Metal show happening in Yankee Stadium and perhaps this was a sign that heavy shows can work really well at this type of place. I know many fans wish we had our own kind of Wacken Open Air festival, and maybe, just maybe if the right promoter can put it together and the band roster is hot we can pull it off. Only time will tell on that and I can say that I hope this was not going to be the last Metal show that I saw here.
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Official Web Site: www.metallica.com
Official Web Site: www.slayer.net
Official Web Site: www.megadeth.com
Official Web Site: www.anthrax.com
Official Web Site: www.yankees.com
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