Metallica Hits The Mark
The Mark; Moline, Illinois, USA; 8/22/04
by Paul Hanson
Hundreds of five and six-year olds clutch stiff clean Barbie, Justice League, Spider-Man, and Princess backpacks with sharpened pencils, glue sticks, and tissues this week. Kindergartners across the country are excited, boisterous when walking to their new classroom. Their teachers calm the fear in parents' eyes, assuring them "everything will be fine." The class of 2017 is ready.
Metallica was ready Sunday night, August 22, 2004, at the Mark in Moline, IL. As the band took the stage with "Blackened," it was obvious on stage is where Metallica belongs. James Hetfield looked refreshed and smiled. Kirk Hammett concentrated on his intricate solos while newest member Robert Trujillo frantically glided his fingers up and down the frets. Drummer Lars Ulrich has the Billy Joel look now with a beard and mustache, pounding his drums with fury. Their set list included songs from all of their releases.
The thought that occurred to me while watching this band is that they are reaching, if not surpassing, the status of heavy metal icon. There is a breed of band that has been doing heavy metal music consistently, persistently, for 20 years now. Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, and Metallica. These four icons in some form have survived over 20 years. Their success, granting for the sake of argument that musical success can be measured by concrete numbers, has been varied. The common thread, though, is touring and playing concerts that are legendary around the world. They have seen everywhere and played everywhere. They have been through it all -- death, happiness, all the cliches. Core members James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Kirk Hammett have lived their music, year in, year out, as Metallica. With this aura surrounding them, Metallica slammed the stage.
Launching into the lone selection from Re-Load, Hetfield led the band into "Fuel." After finishing the song, he looked around and smiled. He spoke, briefly, about Metallica being in a good mood before launching into the title cut from 1984's Ride The Lightning. My jaw fell to the floor throughout this song. This song has been around for 20 years and each member nailed all their signature parts. Ulrich pounded his drums fiercely, Hammett nailed the guitar solo, and Hetfield expelled the frantic pleadings of a man on the electric chair. Immediately after this song, they launched into "Fade To Black," which brought out the lighters throughout this emotional song. Is it about suicide? Is it a kick in the ass to those who need motivation? You make the call.
Then they jumped ahead 19 years to the third best song on their 2003 release St. Anger: "Frantic." With the "tic toc tic toc" lyrics ringing throughout the arena, Hetfield coaxed as much energy out of the crowd as he could. "The Thing that Should Not Be" from 1986's Master of Puppets followed.
"Dirty Window" was an interesting selection. Hetfield introduced the song by saying they didn't play it often so they might, um, mess it up. I couldn't tell that they didn't play it often. "St. Anger" followed with the classic union of old and new school Metallica: thrash metal from their early days with the experimentalism of making metal at a slower pace from the Load-era.
|Metallica's James Hetfield at The Mark|
Photo: Dan Videtich, Moline Dispatch
Bassist Robert Trujillo strutted his skill with a bass solo. He knelt on the stage and concentrated, smiling only during the fast parts in unison with the crowd's rising roar of approval. I can not even fathom what it is like for him to know that the ghosts of Metallica's previous players are with him on stage. He acknowledged this during his solo as he slipped into the opening groove of Cliff Burton's showcase "Orion." But just as quickly as he paid tribute to the past, Trujillo continued painting the future with his playing.
The overall setlist for this concert was fantastic. It would have been great to hear "Whiplash"
But even before Metallica took the stage, Godsmack got the crowd going. What an amazing set, bringing together the band's trademark sound and packaging it for a heavy metal show. No acoustic numbers. The slowest tempo the band played was "Voodoo" and even that rocked. The highlight was the band's final number "I Stand Alone" which brought the arena to a deafening roar. Metallica and Godsmack is a great package. If you have any chance to see this tour, you need to go.
Straight Out of Line
I Stand Alone
Ride the Lightning
Fade to Black
The Thing That Should Not Be
Sad But True
No Leaf Clover
Nothing Else Matters
Master of Puppets
Seek & Destroy