Tonight would be the second of two sold out shows for the mighty Metallica at New York City’s Madison Square Garden and that was amazing news for the Metal supporters of the region. This visit would essentially be the second or continuing leg of the tour that was being done in support of the “Death Magnetic” album; it was a release that found the group returning to a form that was both expected and respected by the fans. Welcome back Metallica, you have been missed. Starting off the night as first support would be Volbeat from Denmark and the one and only Lamb Of God. I arrived early enough to be able to photograph everyone but since I did not have a physical ticket for the show, the question remained would a comprehensive review be able to happen….only time would tell.
Volbeat: I caught Volbeat when they were opening up for Nightwish a little earlier this year and I really enjoyed what they were doing based on just how different it was from the usual stuff that is happening in the Metal world these days. Clearly these guys are making some powerful friends to find themselves on a bill with a band like Metallica when one considers all of the other bands that are dying for such a chance. Sadly the wheels of motion that often work in my favor still needed some oiling this evening and missed communication would find me missing the entire short set from these Denmark visitors. I’m sure they will be back sometime soon and I will be sure to report on them in full at that time.
Lamb Of God: You might not know this little fact, but Lamb Of God has NEVER played at Madison Square Garden before these two shows and that was incredible news to me. I had always believed that I had seen them in this space in the past but when I sat back to think about it realized that it was only at The Roseland a couple of times, then over at the PNC Bank Arts Center and when they toured with Slayer for the Unholy Alliance tour back in 2006. Tonight Lamb Of God was in effect celebrating a significant moment in their own history and would do so for the sake of their fans by not only presenting music from their most recently released CD “Wrath” but also by playing some stuff from “Sacrament” and that which came before it. The band hit the ground running and based on the layout of the stage had a lot of room to do so. Fronted by Randy Blythe, one who is not used to the band would have a hard time keeping track on where he was since he sure made use of his surroundings tonight. The stage was set up “in the round” for these shows and that meant dead center of the arena as opposed to being off to one side. Having the stage like this allowed a barricade to completely envelope the thing and thus allowed more fans in the general admission area to press up close against the gate and see the band up close. Microphones were positioned in sets of two at each of the squares sides (or rectangles if you want to be fussy). They would deliver two songs from “Wrath” as their start off and Randy addressed the crowd often telling them “that this is a Metal show, so don’t be afraid to get into it” and many complied with the singers battle orders. They sounded great and proved worthy of the honor of such a bill and I had to admit they looked like they were enjoying themselves greatly from my vantage point. “Walk With Me In Hell” came up next from “Sacrament”, and this is a favorite of mine with the dramatic lighting rigs and pulsing strobes bringing it to all the more powerful effect. The response to Willie’s lead guitar playing and Chris’ solid drumming seemed very loud and it was clear that MSG has not seen the last of Lamb Of God, even if we were only at song number three. “Now You Got Something To Die For” was up next and sadly would be where I made my exit back to the media waiting zone. The downside of only managing to be inside for the purpose of photography becoming all too apparently visible as the time went by. As I walked out from this crushing display that was only in mid-set I remembered a recent discussion that a Metal program had about who would be among the next “big arena Metal bands” after a number of the main ones that were still going had closed up shop and gone away. The hosts mentioned the Hard Core Metal of Hatebreed as a proper and most logical choice but I think that any Metal maniac worth their salt had to agree that the next wave of arena Metal dominance begins and continues with Lamb Of God (no offense to the fine job that Jamey does in Hatebreed of course). Nice work guys but I expected this from you.
Metallica: Since forming in 1981 the band Metallica has covered a lot of ground for themselves and the Metal genre as a whole. Their outstanding debut of “Kill ‘Em All” in 1983 set them on the path as underground heroes for the Metal way and eventually life would lead them to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame where they were inducted in April of 2009. This honor came six years after being awarded MTV’s “Icon” status in 2003. Not a bad run for a band even if some of the work they released tested the patience and level of acceptance in their fans for a number of years before they got back on track with the most recent album “Death Magnetic”. I had to admit that this album was a welcome thing for me, because in my eyes there were plenty of other bands I could listen to and choose from if Metallica no longer seemed willing to maintain the charge.
After their intro music blasted over the venue sound system the place went black as Metallica entered the stage and then a barrage of lasers gave everyone a visual treat as the band throttled us with the opening track from the new album “That Was Just Your Life”. It’s a great song on its own and works as an opening number very well. The band was very energetic and making sure that everyone in the arena got a good look at them by stopping at each section of the rectangle shaped stage for a few moments. I felt that they looked pretty good as well, and did not seem at all tired from the rigorous tour and for a final show they seemed intent on giving us their all this evening. Lars Ulrich’s drums were dead center on the stage and faced one direction. I almost expected them to rotate like we find the drums in a KISS show doing but they would not. My guess is that any up and coming drummers who saw him from the back were able to pick up a number of his tricks this evening and those who faced him, got to see all of the weird faces he would make during the show. There was really not all that much to the stage design in my opinion but above them was rather impressive as about six coffin shaped structures acted as the lighting rigs. They would move up and down and add a little more of a dramatic vibe to the show.
Hetfield spoke to the crowd and said how New York City better watch out because Metallica was in a good mood this evening and that meant a great show which I am sure fired up everyone a little more even though its safe to assume that no one was expecting a bad show from them. The second song would be another new one with “The End Of The Line” and there was some cool back and forth interaction observed between the guitarists Hammett and Hetfield with Mr. Trujillio on bass. I had to say that he impressed me very much and this was my first time seeing him in the role since he replaced Jason. The first “classic” came up with the third song of the night and this was “Creeping Death”. It is still an amazing tune and something that is meant for the live concert arena. The chants of “Die” were totally sparking a little fear in the security folks who I am sure were worried about a Heavy Metal uprising from this one. Hetfield held up one of the microphone stands and told the audience that this was their chance to help out and they all did. It had to be an overpowering effect to the musicians on the stage as the entire populace of MSG sang along with this part. The band had begun “Shortest Straw” but it was time for me to make my exit as the photography action was done and with no ticket to remain in the arena I had to leave and miss the rest of the show. It’s a bummer but such is how this stuff works sometimes and it cannot always be avoided. I heard a few moments of “Fade TO Black” as I was doing the same towards the exit sign and I had to say that I found it amazing to see and hear the band from such a vantage point. Since I had seen the set list for the night, I knew that the crowd was in for some treats tonight. I will make sure to catch them next time without a doubt. Although the circumstances didn’t allow or permit for me to provide the full on report like I would have wanted to I did feel that what I was able to enjoy for the three tunes truly captured the spirit of the night and reaffirm my belief that Metallica is worthy of all of the status that had been placed on them. Let’s hope that the follow up to “Death Magnetic” is as strong and that they continue to lead the charge for the genre.
Before the show began I caught a fan that had not only been here the night before, but also still was holding on to the set list from that show. I was surprised at how safe he managed to keep it and it ran as follows: That Was Just Your Life, The End Of The Line, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Holier Than Thou, One, Broken, Beat And Scarred, Cyanide, Sad But True, Turn The Page, All Nightmare Long, A Day That Never Comes, Master Of Puppets, Fight Fire With Fire, Nothing Else Matters, Enter Sandman, Helpless, Whiplash, Seek and Destroy. Not a bad set list from the looks of it, and even though the Sunday crowd would not get “Whiplash” or “Turn The Page”, they would get the classic “Trapped Under Ice” and “Last Caress” which everyone loves. They seemed to keep all of the new material the same on each of the nights and its good that the new stuff worked out so well live. I didn’t notice anything from “St. Anger” on the list which I am sure got a sigh of relief from the audience when all was said and done.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not we shall see a “Big Four Tour” ever happening that brings us Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax on the same bill but I will not hold my breath about it since Metallica doesn’t seem to need this as much as some of the others do. Dollar signs of course always have a way to make things happen and at the time of this writing the news was announced about how a new tour called “American Carnage” will happen and bring us Megadeth, Slayer and Testament. I will take that for sure. I’ve also read that a live DVD was being done for this tour so watch out for that release in early 2010 I am guessing.
Important: We shared a number of different thoughts and images from this adventure on our "PiercingMetal Musings" Blog and in the event you did not yet see that please click HERE to enjoy more.
Official Web Site: www.metallica.com
Official Web Site: www.lamb-of-god.com
Official Web Site: www.volbeat.dk
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