Photo by DYLAN LONG
“We don’t give a shit,” declared James Hetfield, frontman of the heavy metal machine known as Metallica, to the sold-out crowd Lincoln Financial Field last night. Hetfield then elaborated, stating that Metallica doesn’t care what you look like, what you’re wearing, what religion you practice, or your political beliefs. “We’re here to celebrate live music and being alive. This is family.” It was a touching and beautiful moment between Hetfield and the crowd, a moment which of course would be followed by imminent doom and riffs from the bowels of hell.
Kicking off the night with “Hardwired,” the title track from their most recent LP Hardwired… To Self Destruct, I was immediately blown away by how tight these guys both looked and sounded onstage. Yes, it’s Metallica, but I admittedly had my doubts that the members of Metallica in their 50s would be able to match the intensity they possessed when drummer Lars Ulrich was 16. The good news is that I was totally wrong. Hetfield and co. were running back and forth across the gigantic stage, doing laps around the ramps that bled into the crowd and connected back to the stage — jumping, squatting, and most important of all, shredding. Hetfield’s voice sounded like a finely-aged leather jacket, full of toughness and vigor. Not only was the musicianship impressive on all fronts, the production and sound for this show were equally as mental, with fire, pyro and explosions at every turn.
While Metallica has found themselves on the shorter end of the stick of success for what’s felt like forever, they’ve seemed to finally come to a game-changing realization with their latest album and live show: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Some simply brush this mantra off as a revisiting of their earlier days, an attempt to relive what Metallica once was. However, even if that’s exactly what they’re doing, who gives a shit? They kicked ass. The riffs cut into the crowd with precision and force, Lars’ kick drum beat its way to the front of the stage with every thud, and Robert Trujillo ripped some absolutely gnarly bass solos. Unloading more of their new material, Metallica electrified Lincoln Financial Field with pyro-infused performances of “Atlas, Rise!,” “Now That We’re Dead,” and “Moth Into Flame.” Several oldies were woven into the set to balance out the new, such as “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” “One,” “Master Of Puppets,” and a firework-ridden finale featuring nothing other than “Enter Sandman.”
Having grown up on Garage Inc., Ride The Lightning, Master of Puppets, and …And Justice For All, seeing these guys still going strong brought me great joy. Towards the end of the set, Hetfield told the crowd, “I hope you guys are feeling better than when you first got here; I sure am.” At that moment it was clear to me then that metal is in the blood of these four gentlemen, and the fact that they’ve stuck with their craft through thick and thin attests to their love for live music, for rock & roll and for the Metallica family that they have spent their careers creating and appreciating. — DYLAN LONG