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Review Tue Jan 27 2009

Review: Metallica @ Allstate Arena, 1/26

It's 2009. Metallica is being inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, selling millions of albums, and playing to full arenas. The crowds are a hodgepodge that's discovered the band at various points throughout their much storied career. Books could be (have been?) written about what people have or haven't liked about them during their 28 years. But people adore them. And even those who have some issues with them still go to their concerts.

Photo by Brian Leli

At last night's show, the first of two at Allstate Arena near the end of a tour that began in October, Metallica roared out with the first two songs from their latest album before indulging those who apparently shun the band's recent output. (Definitions of "recent" tend to vary, naturally.) Any mention of "new stuff" by James Hetfield was met with lukewarm applause. Even his clever attempts to draw in longtime fans ("We figured out what goes good with the new stuff - old stuff") were met with some hesitancy. But that dissipated as soon as the band tore through the old stuff that almost everyone can agree is good. "Creeping Death" and "Ride the Lightning" back-to-back early on injected some energy into the crowd and kept the momentum rolling for most of the 120-minute set. However, just to show that Metallica can't even please all of their fans, I saw someone roll their eyes for "Master of Puppets" and a stoic girl in front of me texted "I hate this song" during "Enter Sandman." Other than them and some people commenting "Lots of new songs tonight, huh?", everybody seemed pretty pleased.

Photo by Brian Leli

For an arena show, the stage setup was relatively simple in the center of the floor. Eight microphones gave Hetfield an opportunity to play toward every corner of the arena. Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo roamed the stage to wherever Hetfield wasn't. Lars Ulrich's kit swiveled every few songs. The hanging coffins, rows of amps and pyrotechnics were spot-on for a metal show. The laser lights and beach balls? Not so much.

Photo by Brian Leli

Although, at that point, with the house lights on and "Seek and Destroy" ripping, I don't think the props really mattered. It's 2009. Metallica is who we thought they were — an extremely popular metal band past their prime who's making great strides to make their fans happy. And they pull that off quite well.

Photo by Brian Leli

Machine Head opened with a rather pedestrian set that seemed far removed from their glory days. But their drummer is amazing. The Sword also opened, but the nightmare that's I-90/Allstate Arena traffic kept me from seeing them, unfortunately. (At least they ruled when they played Bottom Lounge in November.)

[Editor's Note: To see more Metallica pictures shot by Brian Leli, as well as more pictures from The Sword's set, check out our Flickr photostream. Below is a taste.]

Photo by Brian Leli

Photo by Brian Leli

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TJ Mapes / January 28, 2009 8:57 AM

Dem be some nice photos! Can we see more?

Saari Lothar / January 28, 2009 2:13 PM

I respect the freedom that we all have to comment on anything we wish in this country. I love it. It is a great feature of having grown up here in the States. But, with regard to this review, I have to differ on a few points.

Until Mr. James Ziegenfus can play the solo guitar parts for track number 5 'All Nightmare Long' on the new Metallica album, I don't think it is helpful to alot of readers of this particular review to provide a wholesale negative opinion about the 40-50 songs that Metallica has published since 1994. But it isn't enough to know how to play the part precisely the same way that Kirk does, but it helps to be able to conceive of it. And it is a two-part solo, no less.

If what Metallica endeavors to do now is devoid of artistic merit, is the only other viable option to take a shotgun to the forehead and kill oneself as Cobain did. Can there not be virtue in both results? What are the criteria that will have to be met for Metallica to make a decent album in this reviewer's eyes?

I recommend anyone that has the opportunity, go to St. Louis, Missouri to the place called Blueberry Hill (downstairs in the Duck Room) and watch Chuck Berry in one of his monthly performances that he still puts on. Should be just hang up the Gibson hollow body, even if he still loves doing what he does? Les Paul still plays frequently in New York, even in the fragile condition that he finds himself in, should he, too, cease performing with his gold-top Les Paul guitar, even if he loves doing what he does?

So what is the problem? Indeed, Lars has been irritating on camera. Indeed, the two principals in the group bickered on camera for that documentary. Indeed, Lars released the strings on his snare drum for the 'St. Anger' album. Yeah, I get it, Kirk seems a little odd in personality for being in a metal band, when a microphone and a camera get placed before him for a documentary. (Honestly, I didn't go to the show because I can barely pay my own bills, as it is, much less fork out $70 dollars or more for the tickets to see one of my favorite bands.) I have not seen the band since 1993 in St. Louis, MO. I rely on You Tube to see them, and that does piss me off. Why charge so much for tickets?! Not good policy. Besides, who wants to stay at the Peninsula Hotel, anyway ($6500 a night for the most expensive room as of 2 years ago)? There is nothing down there. They should've stayed at Ray's Bed and Breakfast in Bucktown, then walked on over to Phyllis' Musical Inn or the Mutiny for a good slice of upstart bands.

But, beyond it all, can't humans make glaring mistakes and then become better people and learn from those same mistakes? I certainly want that grace provided me by my friends and co-workers and strangers and immediate family.

Why dish on this band and suggest that the solo that Kirk provides on 'Outlaw Torn', with wah-pedal, or the song 'Shoot Me Again' has zero artistic value? Consider the sequence of the song 'Bleeding Me', the song is brilliant in its mood and dynamism, and for some, the lyrics can be something with which to connect, which is obviously the case for myself. Watch the DVD 'Cunning Stunts' and notice the intro song, where all of the members jam onstage before they break into 'Stone Cold Crazy', they begin jamming on 'Bad Seed'. The song title is a bit inane, but the musicianship is quite impressive. How about 'Waste My Hate'? I rather enjoy the production of the song as it was presented on the album, but also, the guitar part is a great little riff that Hetfield pulls off, then the band kind of barrels into what they do best: play metal.

James Ziegenfus, I appreciate your commentary. I know you are a better writer than I and you bring a lens that I still need, your point of view helps me to see and understand music topics and the world of music in a better way, hopefully a more comprehensive one. I just get defensive when it comes to discrediting the music of this band. Stepping away from the personalities and exploring the music is perhaps where the reward lies.

Thanks for your time and consideration. Thanks for writing and providing your commentary. All the best to Gapers Block!

jamez / January 29, 2009 5:15 PM

It wasn't "stone cold crazy" it was "So What" after bad seed intro jam on "Cunning Stunts" get facts right& show is worth the $70... Seen 2of 'em so far on this tour. Also it's not the band it's Ticketmasters fees&charges that are jacking up the price so much! Be a real fan &go see the show....tou won't be disapointed!!!

Saari / February 2, 2009 11:51 AM


Two points:

1. I realized that it was 'So What' after I submitted. Thanks for being a careful reader. But do you wish to comment on the import the argument, perhaps deconstruct it?

2. Can you submit the criteria of what being a "...real fan..." consists in?

I appreciate the fact that you can drop the money to see these guys 20 times already on the 'Death Magnetic' tour, but I don't have the cash. So let's run with this for a bit. I am a musician, I barely make any money. I suspect you indicate that I need money to be a fan of Metallica. But let's recall the stories back when Anthrax put these guys up after driving their RV from CA to NYC in order to record their first album. The guys in Met didn't have money. They loved Deep Purple, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, but they also didn't have money as four young dorky dudes that loved the new wave of British metal, so were they less fans of the music if they, too, might not have been able to afford the shows of their favorite bands back then?

The real issue is that we both agree that Metallica is a quality band, even to this day, 25 years later. I took issue with the guy that wrote the review. You decided to take issue with the fact that I can't spend $70 to see them on tour. I think the discussion would be better served if you remarked on the commentator's original column.

3. Regardless of whatever company has service and convenience fees, $50 for show is still a lot of money.

Let's provide a concerted rebuttal to the gentleman that wrote the article. John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats would surely love the debate about the importance of Metallica in these latter years of their career.

So what did you think of the guy's review in the original column? Did you take issue with any of his remarks? Find any of them disagreeable? Worthy of comment? Discussion?

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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