"Are you ready for this?" Metallica frontman James Hetfield growled from the stage of Nashville's Sommet Center Monday night, at the official kickoff of the band's latest U.S. run. "Metallica is mighty grateful to be alive, and here celebrating life with loud, heavy music."
Loud and heavy it was — heavy enough to comically shake from the rafters all the heart-shaped confetti remaining from Taylor Swift's show there two nights before — as Metallica burned through a big cache of songs from their latest, speed-metal tradition-bearing Death Magnetic album and a healthy share of similarly muscular, propulsive early work.
The band's two-hour-plus Stateside opener, coming after months of overseas dates, kicked off with an aggressive, laser light-flanked "That Was Just Your Life" and "The End Of The Line" from Magnetic, Hetfield following up by telling the crowd, "We appreciate you. Here's some old stuff."
Their crowds, as the band seems to have fully internalized in the wake of Magnetic's positive response, sure like the energy and spirit of the old stuff. And the Nashville audience offered emphatic, unison-fist-pumping shout-alongs in response to classic Metallica favorites "Creeping Death" and "Master of Puppets," though the stuttering "Cyanide" and taut "Broken, Beat & Scarred" from Magnetic, classic Metallica-angled as they are, earned their own fervent crowd participation.
The band's Nashville stop wasn't all frenetic and wasn't all waffling between classic or new-classic — the tender "Nothing Else Matters" had Hetfield crooning alone on stage, perched on a stool. And Metallica's World Magnetic Tour stage show, even with the band's reinvigorated aggression, isn't without its kitsch either. During closer "Seek and Destroy," Swift's paper hearts were replaced in the air by a downpour of massive, Death Magnetic-emblazoned black beach balls.
But if Nashville's Metallica faithful were all fist-pumps watching metal's reigning kings do the classic speed-metal thing they do best, imagine the fervor when Hetfield introduced a guest stop from the "godfather of heavy metal," Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister. (Kilmister joined Metallica on two of his band's songs, "Damage Case" and "Too Late Too Late.")
"We want you leaving here with a sore throat," Hetfield hollered after he and his bandmates each took a turn giving Kilmister a big goodbye hug. "But you're gonna leave here with a big smile on your face."
"That Was Just Your Life"
"The End Of The Line"
"Holier Than Thou"
"Broken, Beat & Scarred"
"Sad But True"
"Turn the Page"
"All Nightmare Long"
"The Day That Never Comes"
"Master of Puppets"
"Nothing Else Matters"
"Too Late Too Late"
"Seek and Destroy"