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Concert Reviews:
Metallica Headbangs With A Heart At Joe Louis Arena
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT -- With its bludgeoning sound and lyrics about death, turmoil and emotional upheaval, sentimentality has never been a big part of Metallica's particular brand of heavyweight aural assault. But even as it stormed through a fierce two-hour and 15-minutes of heavy metal mayhem Tuesday night (Jan. 13) at Joe Louis Arena stage Tuesday (Jan. 13), the quartet couldn't express their love too much for the nearly 21,000 fans.

"With this band, fans and crew, there is extreme loyalty," frontman James Hetfield said during the encores. "We appreciate that so, so much."

And on Tuesday Metallica expressed that affection proudly -- and loudly -- headbanging with a heart in the same pulverizing and creative manner we've come to expect during the group's volatile, high-octane career.

Metallica is on a particular high these days thanks to the global success of its ninth studio album, "Death Magnetic," which debuted at No. 1 in 32 countries when it was released in September. Following a tight opening set by The Sword and a more lumbering outing by Machine Head -- marked by an exuberant cover of Iron Maiden's "Hallowed Be They Name" -- Metallica stormed onto its laser-lit, center-arena stage to tear through the first two songs from the new album, "That Was Just Your Life" and "The End of the Line," with Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo prowling the edges of the clean, 360-degree stage and Lars Ulrich occasionally escaping from his drum kit to shout pump-ups to fans pressed against the stage barriers.

Metallica also quickly established the widely-acknowledged link between "Death Magnetic" and its early, '80s repertoire, following the opening blast with the likes of "Creeping Death," "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "One" -- all dynamic, tempo-shifting opuses framed by Hetfield's under-amplified growls and howls and plenty of room for Hammett to solo. Tellingly, Metallica eschewed anything from its last three studio albums -- a span from 1990-2007 -- preferring instead to mix a generous sampling of "Death Magnetic" material such as "Broken, Beat & Scarred," "The Day That Never Comes," "All Nightmare Long" and a particularly effective rendering of "Cyanide" with iconic gems like "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)," the epic "Master of Puppets," "Damage Inc." and a slightly off-kilter "Sad But True."

Amidst pyrotechnics and beneath moving, coffin-shaped overhead lighting rigs, Metallica slowed things down for "Nothing Else Matters," which featured one of Hammett's most striking solos, and closed the main set with the signature hit "Enter Sandman." The encore brought much-loved covers of the Misfits' "Last Caress" and Budgie's "Breadfan," and before the show-closing "Seek and Destroy," with its shower of giant black balloons from the ceiling, Metallica turned sentimental again, paying tribute to crew member Paul Owen, a 22-year veteran who was working his last show with the group.

So Metallica may be willing to periodically put its heart on its sleeve, but on Tuesday it showed that heart also beats inside a sonic suit of the strongest imaginable metal.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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