A quarter-century ago today–on May 31, 1989–American metal masters Metallica played the Pacific Coliseum. The band was touring behind …And Justice for All, its first album since the death in ’86 of bassist Cliff Burton, who was replaced by Jason Newsted.
The Vancouver concert took place four months after the release of the breakthrough single “One”, the band’s first Top 40 hit, which would win a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.
The following year Metallica would enter the studio with Vancouver producer Bob Rock to start work on its self-titled 1991 release, aka The Black Album, which has sold over 16-million copies in the U.S. alone.
Here’s my review of the show, which appeared in the June 9, 1989, issue of the Straight.
The Pacific Coliseum may as well have been a Roman coliseum last Wednesday, because things got about as uncivilized as they’ve ever been in the home of the Canucks.
Not since the Broad Street Bullies took their orange jerseys into the crowd to bust heads during Dave “The Hammer” Schultz’s heyday has the ol’ hockey rink seen such primitive displays of abandoned fury and bloodlust. But not to worry–there were no actual casualties, apart from maybe the odd aching ear.
It was just another show by Metallica, San Francisco’s kings of musical blood ‘n’ guts.
On a coliseum-style stage, complete with broken pillars and statues of lions, the four young guns of sonic mayhem blasted forth their messages of injustice and doom to a seething crowd of 12,500 worshippers giving fists up to the band’s unsubtle points of view.
During the nearly two-hour set of state-of-the-art ’80s thrash, Metallica focused on songs from its latest album, …And Justice for All, but occasionally went back in time to cull tracks from its cutesy-titled debut Kill ‘Em All.
“Die! Die! Die!” bellowed Hetfield at the start of the band’s encore, and the crowd quickly took up the chant, much like certain “sporting” types did in the days of Caesar.
There’s probably a few echoes of the chant still bouncing around the Coliseum’s rafters, and maybe they’ll stay up there long enough to sound again when Julio Iglesias hits town.
Or, even better, the Calgary Flames.