Although Monday night’s final 3D movie shoot at Rogers Arena was filled with several starts and stops to allow for director Nimrod Antal to capture the band up close and personal, the guys of Metallica – James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Rob Tujillo, and Lars Ulrich – delivered another high octane performance.
For diehard fans, Monday night’s $5 show was a gift from the metal gods given how most of the song breaks made for an intimate and candid night.
The set list on Monday was the same as Friday and Saturday, eighteen songs that spanned every studio album in the Metallica discography. The band began with “Creeping Death” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” from 1984’s Ride the Lightning and continued with a full arsenal of hits through the decades before closing out where they started with “Hit the Lights” and “Seek & Destroy” from Kill ‘Em All, their debut album in 1983.
After checking out the first night of filming on Friday, and again on Monday, the storyline around the upcoming 3D Metallica movie was clear: the band plays through a series of technical mishaps before the stage collapses and they’re forced to finish the show by revisiting their “garage days.” And since I had no clue what the storyline of the 3D movie was going into the first show, yes, I was hoodwinked by some of the early fake antics (namely James Hetfield getting pissed at early stage malfunctions).
But for anyone who saw Metallica’s Load tour in mid-90s, the fake stage accident was similar to those shows but on a much bigger scale.
Having seen Metallica twelve times over the past twenty years, the 3D movie shoot in Vancouver forced me to re-examine the evolution of the band and their career across nine studio albums and four live recordings.
Although Metallica fans have always been divided over the band’s early music as compared their sound from the Black album forward, the 3D shows allowed me to step back from the debate. On Friday, two decades after the Black album, over sixteen years removed from Load and Re-Load, nine years from St. Anger, and four from Death Magnetic, I was surprised at just how well the latter material fits into the Metallica universe, namely “Cyanide,” “Fuel,” and “The Memory Remains.” And it’s not like the arena fell silent when they were played. In fact, it was the exact opposite. And that told me something.
To make sure my judgement wasn’t clouded by adrenaline from Friday’s 3D show, I took the entire weekend to revisit every album in the Metallica discography (from Kill ‘Em All to Death Magnetic) and listen to the songs with a fair and impartial ear. At the very least, I wanted to challenge the opinions I formed when I was 14 years old, 20, 25, 30 and onward.
I have to admit, throughout the years it’s been easy to put blinders on and view the band’s music from the standpoint of early material versus new songs. In doing so, I’ve come to realize that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Especially when it came to appreciating other songs beyond And Justice for All, which many fans consider to be the band’s last raw and true metal record before blowing up mainstream with the Black album.
Over twenty years later, it’s funny to look back on the reaction to the Black album. In 1991, when the Black album was released, many fans and critics dubbed the band sell-outs for changing their sound and breaking through into mainstream music after releasing a much more polished and technically produced album than And Justice for All. And from the Black album to Load and Re-Load, fans and critics said the exact same thing. When you think about it, St. Anger and Death Magnetic produced similar reactions.
The interesting thing is, each album produced a similar reaction in me. In 1991, I wasn’t sold on the Black album when it first came out. It took a full year before I really appreciated how great of an album it was. When Load was released five years later, I felt the same way at first. It was the same with the latter albums.
But when I revisited such songs as “Don’t Tread on Me” (Black album), “The Outlaw Torn” (Load), “Fixxxer” (ReLoad), “My World” (St. Anger), and “All Nightmare Long” (Death Magnetic), they all reflect just how great of a band Metallica really is across three decades. Say what you will about Metallica, good or bad, but they’ve never given fans the same album (Load and Re-Load were originally meant to be a double album).
And after seeing Metallica in fine 3D form in Vancouver this past weekend for their upcoming movie, due out next year, it’s clear that the metal giants are still on top of their game. In 2013, Metallica will release their 3D movie followed by a new album in 2014.
How do you guys feel about Metallica throughout the years?