New Orleans Arena

November 14, 2004

People wore solemn faces and black as they roamed the halls of the New Orleans Arena Sunday night. "Oh, it's a Metallica show, so I have to act all tough." Whatever. We're all country boys(and girls), suburbanites, or former suburbanites, and we're just gonna go back to our safe little lives--afTer wE gET a liTTLe cRAZY WITH METALICAAHH!!!!

I was unsure about the concert until I got the past Metallica balderdash out of my head and thought about how cool it would be to hear the music. Once I got past all the little things(Napster fiasco) that annoyed me about Metallica since the Black Album, I bought my ticket two hours before showtime.

It was worth the $50, but I have to admit that the steep price had me thinking during the show from time to time if I was gonna be satisfied at the end. I was. They rocked. They were tight(minus a few small snafus), and they put on their usual bombastic, pyrotechnic-oriented rock show. Metallica always comes with some crazy antics. For their '97 Load Tour, I'm told they had a fake pyrotechnic operator light himself on fire. This time, they played in the round, had a light show synchronized with the beats, had mic stand cameras documenting the show up lead singer/guitarist James Hetfield's nose(didn't need it), and they still had ear-pounding blasts of fire, most notably during the war song, "One." They played eighteen songs through three encores for two and half hours. Pretty good, even though I do remember being a little bit more satisfied after their three hour Superdome show in '92. Don't get me wrong--Metallica still kicked my ass. I did enough screaming and fist pumping to walk out the arena a little woozy.

Hetfield didn't curse at all. That's a big change from 1992 Hetfield, where everything was motherf-this or f-that. Maybe it was the rehab or the therapy. There was no cursing until drummer Lars Ulrich got to the mic as the show ended and asked the crowd why "the fuck" it took the band seven years since their '96 Lollapalooza performance to get back to New Orleans? Probably because they were sitting in their mansions for five, then fomer bassist Jason Newsted left, then there was all the get the picture. Hetfield also didn't goad the crowd for more energy as much as he did in '92. That was fine. I'm not 14 anymore. But, Hetfield was his same old manaical self(laugh included) with the same old maniacal songs. And he still had the funny way of using the word Metallica as a first-person pronoun: "Metallica is with you," "Metallica appreciates your support," etc. His rock-star attitude really worked after their second encore, when the band had already taken five minutes to hand out guitar picks. He said in a sly, coy way, "Why are you still here? Do you want more?" Even though the arena was only filled up to the bottom-most section of the 300 level, a huge roar went up through it. Yes, they wanted more.

Metallica opened their set with "Blackened," which was a surprise. I thought they'd open with a song from their new album, "St. Anger," of which they only played the title track. Also interesting was that the only song they played from the Load and Re-Load albums was "Fuel." The band moved through the set efficiently, stopping to talk the most when a band member had a solo. New bassist Robert Trujillo stalked the stage like an orangutan during his show-off and proved his worth when his fingers moved like lead guitarist Kirk Hammett's. It was so much fun to watch and hear Hammett play his song solos in a precise way with a clear tone. Note for note to the albums. Most dramatic of all was Ulrich, who made angry drumming faces, held his sticks behind his head before a particularly dramatic part, and ran around his set crashing the cymbals after most songs.

Metallica played six songs off their "Black" album, including "The God That Failed," a very obscure one. Another unexpected but welcome song was "Disposable Heroes," off of "Master of Puppets," of which the band played three songs. The song that got the most response besides "Enter Sandman" was "Fade to Black," which I remembered as a slow, depressing song. It really rocked in parts, though.

It was a true Metallica night. They've grown up, but they're still young enough to rock hard.

*Photos accompanying this review were provided by


Harvester Of Sorrow
No Leaf Clover
Wherever I May Roam
The Unforgiven
The God That Failed
St. Anger
Fade To Black
Creeping Death
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Sad But True
Nothing Else Matters
Master Of Puppets
Enter Sandman
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Disposable Heroes
Seek And Destroy

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