A little anger and misery brought a cheering, sold-out crowd to its feet Friday night.
Blasting off with a remake of Budgie's "Breadfan," Metallica, the four-man metal royalty of the decade, slammed out scorching heavy metal favorites in a solid two-hour set. The rumbling chaos stood well with the 12,000 fans seated on the mountainside.Drummer Lars Ulrich, bassist Jason Newsted, guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield and guitarist Kirk Hammett then peppered out the devastating "Master of Puppets" as the crowd pushed up against the dividing fence, trying to get a better glimpse of the band.
After scolding the overzealous fans for the shoving match, Metallica plowed through the touring anthem "Forever I May Roam." Hetfield wandered around, making use of four microphones across the stage.
Snapping strobes and rotating spotlights captured the band at its best as the music stung ears and shook the ground.
Newsted's booming bass set the bottom-layer pulse of "Harvester of Sorrow," a song depicting the tragedy of child abuse. Those in the audience stomped, clapped and pounded out the beat as they sang along. Hammett then took over and fingered out the claustrophobic introduction to "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" from the "Master of Puppets" album.
Ulrich wasn't to be denied a furious double-bass drum solo. The lightning-speed riffs and dynamic syncopation segued neatly into "The God That Failed."
Throughout the night, positive vibes shot out into the crowd, and the band had a great time making people scream. One such moment happened during a medley that consisted of the various tracks from the band's first and second albums, "Kill `Em All" and "Ride the Lightning." The piece featured "No Remorse," "Fight Fire With Fire" and "The Four Horsemen."
Cheers drowned out some of Newsted's solo, but once the audience heard the familiar descending notes of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" from "Ride the Lightning," the place went ballistic. Headbangers also pounded out their fury to the violent takes of "Disposable Heroes" and "Seek And Destroy."
Though the show had many thrash-speed licks and lethal lyrics, it was not just an all-out display of metal madness.
Hammett once more took over and mixed an eloquent classical interlude to his otherwise screaming solo. The band joined him in a solemn version of the ballad "Nothing Else Matters."
The biblical theme of "Creeping Death" woke the romantics in the crowd and others pumped their fists in time with the song's angry choral "death chant." Other favorites included "Whiplash," also sung by Newsted, and the serene "Fade to Black."
The first encore began with the monster step of "Sad But True." Next, the stage's exploding arsenal marked the introduction to "One," while Hetfield emerged through the smoke plucking his guitar.
"Enter Sandman," the million-dollar hit from "Metallica," lit up the second encore, which concluded with an irreverent version of "So What."
Those present will long remember the night, which began with the psychotic ramblings of Suicidal Tendencies and the alternative pomp of Candlebox. Each band had its moments, but in the end, only Metallica was worthy of worship.