The world's biggest rock band, one of the US' most hallowed venues and a hometown concert can only mean one thing: Metallica shows at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Well, I supposed it could have meant Journey in 1978, but I don't have a time machine, so I'll just stick with my story. Metallica's four-date, fanclub and competition-winner only set of dates was in its second night and for anyone going either of the next two nights, you are in for a treat.
The quartet took the stage at 9:30 to the rapturous applause of some of their biggest fans. And, I do mean biggest, if you looked at some of these fast-food addicts. But I digress, because for once, it wasn't about the mangled crowd. It was about Metallica and their warmup shows for their huge summer tour. Hit after old hit were run through, getting new bassist Robert Trujillo up to speed with the live feel of the old, faster numbers. "Blackened" off 1988's amazing And Justice For All set off the festivities and the band were obviously excited to be home and fired up to be playing such a small and famous venue. Frontman James Hetfield relayed that the band has seen so many shows here and that it was special to be on the stage side of things at the Fillmore, also remarking at how great the sound was. And that was no understatement: I had only previously seen Metallica at their 1999 tapings of the S&M album with the San Francisco Symphony, so I marveled at the ferocity of their fully-metal live show, but also couldn't believe how clean it sounded. All the hooks that were present on album were in evidence live. "Sanitarium," "Creeping Death," and "Whiplash" all incited the crowd, before "Master Of Puppets" just tore the roof off the building, as the incendiary axework of Kirk Hammett and Hetfield's rapid-fire riffing melted brains on the spot. Due to potential song leak scares, the boys only played one newbie off St. Anger (which drops June 10), a track called "Frantic," which Hetfield introed with "start your tape recorders. Just kidding." All evening, however, Metallica were in a great mood, chatting with the crowd, thanking them for coming, describing how excited they were to be playing, making fun of new whipping boy Trujillo and on and on.
Two and half hours of sternum rumbling (thanks to drummer Lars Ulrich's twin kick drum attack and Trujillo's 5-string bass), time-changing, life affirming rock was on display last night. The set was closed out with even more classics; "Battery," "One" and "Leper Messiah," which James introed as "Def Leppard Messiah," took us to the first encore, where the band left the stage with "thanks again! Good night! See you... in three minutes." The band jumped back on about five minutes later in fresh shirts and continued the aural onslaught. "Harvester Of Sorrow," "Seek & Destroy," and "Hit The Lights" were all run through as the band left the stage to James again intoning "Thanks, Fillmore! See you August 10 (the SF Summer Sanitarium date)!" To which Lars retorted as he passed the mic, "or in three minutes." Again, the band jumped back on stage, with Lars joking, "is it August 10 already?" as the band launched into their final two tracks for the evening. "So What" and "Damage Inc." completed the sonic takeover of our minds and souls and a thoroughly exhausted band and crowd left the venue is a state of bliss. Only one last thing to add :I can't wait for Wednesday's show. Big ups to Warren Christensen of Qprime and Elektra's George Cappellini for their hospitality last evening.