SAN FRANCISCO (Kevin McCarthy, Fox Movie Critic)
Hometown to Hometown. 19 years later.
On April 2nd 1997, I attended my first concert ever in my hometown of Newport News/Hampton VA. I was 12-years old and I went with my mom, dad and brother.
The band was a little heavy metal group called METALLICA! I remember they had two massive stages that they switched between during the show. This particular show was on their "Load" tour. I just remember sitting there in awe with my jaw dropped to the floor in complete shock. The stage presence, energy and sound were just beyond comprehension. Lars, Jason (Robert Trujillo now plays bass for the band), James and Kirk had the energy of little kids and that passion for their music made the entire concert that much more fun.
Fast-forward to February 6th, 2016. I'm now at AT&T PARK in San Francisco seeing Metallica for my fourth time. This time, I'm in their hometown. Even before the show started, there was a sense of how special this show was. The show, called THE NIGHT BEFORE, was taking place the night before Super Bowl 50 and there was just such a great energy in the city. Though, when Metallica took that stage, the energy level went to unimaginable heights. The show opened with a classic scene from a Sergio Leone flick before Metallica burst on stage with "Creeping Death." From that point forward, Metallica beautifully paced a two hour PLUS concert that masterfully mixed their classics with their newer (post-Black album) material. I always look at Metallica in two phases: Pre-Black album and post-Black album.
After "Creeping Death" they went on to play 17 other classics including "For Whom The Bell Tolls," "The Unforgiven," "Ride the Lightening," "Master of Puppets," "One," "Fade To Black, "Seek and Destroy" and more!
They even played my 2nd favorite Metallica song of all time; "Sad But True." My first favorite is the opening track off of "And Justice for All." A little song entitled "Blackened." BEST SOLO EVER!
The night got a bit emotional around song #16 when dedicated "Whiskey in a Jar" to the late Cliff Burton. Burton, who passed away in a bus accident, was one of the greatest bass players of all time. Burton wrote and played with Metallica on "Kill Em All," "Ride The Lightening" and "Master of Puppets." He was a metal bass player that you could actually HEAR during the metal songs. He wrote some of the most incredible bass rifts and almost treated his bass like a guitar player.
At the end of the night, after Metallica played "Enter Sandman" with epic fireworks over AT&T Park, each member thanked the crowd. Lars told the story of how they ended up in San Francisco because of Cliff Burton. You could just tell how emotional this night was for them and how thankful they were to be there. Kirk Hammett even talked about the first gig they played in San Francisco.
What blows my mind is that on this night, 19 years after the first time I saw them, they had even MORE energy and stage presence. No one, besides IRON MAIDEN, puts on a show like Metallica. It was a show unlike anything I had ever seen. They had these MAJOR screens with incredible visuals and close-ups of their guitar solos. There was this epic moment where James Hetfield finished playing "Nothing Else Matters" and then they zoomed in his guitar pick which had the logo from the night on it. He then started playing the opening of "Enter Sandman" and I basically had tears in my eyes.