WORDS BY SARA ALEXANDER AND PHOTOS BY ROBERT A. CHADWICK, GO VENUE MAGAZINE
All are welcome in the Metallica family. There is no requirement necessary, but it does help if you’re a fuck up. -James Hetfield
On Tuesday night, September 11, Metallica brought the WorldWired Tour to the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, SD. And it was heavy.
The thrash band hasn’t been to the city of Sioux Falls in some time (ten years to be exact), and the same can be said for many other parts of the Midwest as well. What’s the deal Metallica? Don’t you know we’re metalheads too? The proof was in the attendance. With more than 12,000 present at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center Tuesday, the stadium’s previous attendance record was broken. (Take that Carrie Underwood!)
Metallica has previously toured with bands like Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Avenged Sevenfold, and Volbeat, so you might guess that this tour would have a killer rock band opening as well. Not quite.
Given the “in the round” stage setup, Metallica’s ability to draw thousands solely on their own, and the size of their ego, it’s easy to see the reasons why they might have decided not to share the stage with another band. Instead, comedian Jim Breuer took on the task of warming up the crowd before Metallica (not that it was needed).
The mix of a rock and comedy tour isn’t necessarily a bad one, except in this case. Breuer’s unstructured comedic bits and staged fan interactions fell short and were met with boo’s from the crowd as most found themselves wishing for a band instead (or just no opener at all).
But none of that matters. We all came for a different reason.
Exit light. Enter Metallica.
Taking the stage, frontman James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett, drummer Lars Ulrich, and bassist Robert Trujillo find themselves smacked by the sound of 12,000 cheering fans surrounding them 360 degrees. Soon the aggressive sound of “Hardwired” kicks in, and we’re off to heavy metal’s never never-land.
Placing the stage in the center of the crowd left little option for elaborate stage props and backdrops. Instead, the stage was clean with a sleek and simple vibe, while above hung dozens of large box-shaped LED screens hung.
Throughout the show, the boxes moved up and down as they displayed various imagery such as retro televisions, newspaper clippings, and even a variety of impressive fan art. (Let’s just hope they followed the proper copyright procedures to display those.)
“It has been a long time. We’re gonna play some new songs, some medium songs, and maybe an old song,” Hetfield says. A very accurate description. (See setlist below.)
“Now That We’re Dead,” included a drum solo not only by Ulrich, but also everyone else as drums rose from below the stage. During “For Whom the Bell Tolls” Hammett and Trujillo playfully chased each other across the stage, that is, until Hammett tripped and took a bit of a tumble (later entertainingly reenacted by Ulrich). “Moth Into Flame” featured dozens of miniature, perfectly choreographed drones dancing and flickering above the stage. Now that’s something you don’t see at just any concert.
Unfortunately, all concerts must come to an end. Sad, but true. At least we’ll still have our crappy cell phone recordings to remind us of the day Metallica shook Sioux Falls, right? Actually, we’ll all have something better. Assuming you held onto your ticket, anyone who went to the show can visit LiveMetallica.com/scan to scan their ticket stub then download a free mastered mp3 recording of the entire concert. Pretty cool yet kind of surprising coming from the band who previously took legal action against their own fans for sharing files of their music illegally… but it’s probably time to turn the page on that one.
Metallica made an effort to bring innovation to the live music scene in more ways than one… comedy, drones, mp3 recordings, staging… not every attempt soared, but each was certainly appreciated. With being a founder of thrash metal, we’d expect nothing less.
Metallica is certainly not the first band to perform in the round, but hopefully with this tour, the style of staging will start to catch on more, at least for bands who actually have the means to make it happen. The full circle of fans brings out a primal energy, larger sense of interaction, and a new way for the band and crowd to fuel off one another.
Hetfield, Hammett, and Trujillo were all great at working the stage and constantly energizing different sections of the crowd, as well as using each of the eight microphones on the corners and sides of the stage. My only suggestion is that Ulrich and his drum set could have made more than just one complete rotation over the span of the entire set. The drum kit only rotated 90 degrees every four songs or so. He couldn’t play drums while rotating? (It’s not like I’m asking for a solo spinning upside down on a rollercoaster à la Tommy Lee.)
Metallica vowed to return soon. Next time, let’s just hope they bring some equally entertaining rock bands with them. Otherwise, keep on innovating.
Metallica Setlist Sioux Falls 9/11
Hardwired | Atlas, Rise! | Seek & Destroy | Creeping Death | The Unforgiven | Now That We’re Dead | Wherever I May Roam | For Whom the Bell Tolls | Fade to Black | Whiplash | Fuel | Moth Into Flame | Sad but True | One | Master of Puppets
Spit Out the Bone | Nothing Else Matters | Enter Sandman
All photos © 2014-2018 Robert A. Chadwick [Robert Chadwick Photography].