Metallica show gives fans whiplash

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      At B.C. Place on Monday, August 14

      Metallica’s Worldwired Tour ripped through B.C. Place on Monday, with the band playing more than two hours of metal to shatter fans’ eardrums. This was one for the heavy rockers, old and new.

      The opening set kicked off with “Hardwired…” and “Atlas, Rise!” from the band’s newest album, and a blast of light from four 60-foot-high LED screens captivated everyone from the get-go. You couldn’t help but watch the trippy visuals on-screen, complete with massive, brightly coloured filters washing over clips of their videos. Bookending the mega-screens was a giant “M” on the left and an “A” on the right, and at various points the rest of the name would light up across the backdrop, garnering cheers and thrashing heads from the audience. 

      The stage setup was a marvel, with fire scrolling across grates in the floor while the band rocked out. Copious amounts of smoke, 20-foot flames shooting up to the beats of the songs, and a double catwalk leading to a stage in the middle of the “snake pit” installation made sure fans knew it was a Metallica concert.

      You wouldn’t think it would take more than gallons of gas-fuelled, face-melting flames to get the crowd going, but the screens were also appreciated by the audience to catch the intricacies of the group’s performance. With original members James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, and Lars Ulrich, and newer recruit Robert Trujillo, the band displayed why they are one of the most influential mainstream metal and rock acts of all time. Hammett’s harmonics were pitched perfectly, and Hetfield’s trademark snarling vocals were in fine form. At 53 years old, drummer Lars Ulrich blasted out the double kick like a man half his age, with Trujillo matching him tit for tat with great fingerwork on the bass.

      Steve Barmash

      The set was heavy on a few albums, namely Kill ‘Em All, The Black Album, and their newest release, 2016’s Hardwired…To Self Destruct. The band has stated previously that Kill ‘Em All was a big influence on the latest LP, as they were remastering it around the same time as they were finishing the new tracks in the studio. The crowd welcomed all the new songs alongside the classics, and, to no one's surprise, they stacked together quite nicely.  

      Hetfield then broke into an impassioned speech, saying “Metallica don’t give a shit. We don’t give a shit about your differences, we don’t care who you voted for or the colour of your skin, or who you want to marry. We’re here to celebrate life together with our music!” Though the statement was good-intentioned, it garnered only a few cheers before falling flat, as concertgoers thought about the context of the current political climate. While Metallica might be happy to play to anyone as long as they’re having fun and have paid for a concert ticket, this seemed like a missed opportunity to speak to the terrible situation that is happening in their homeland, across international borders, and even in our own back yard. If there has ever been a time to give a shit, it’s now.

      Instantly erupting into their classic "For Whom the Bell Tolls”, however, they avoided any further thought on the subject. The monsters of metal ripped it up through an 18-song set, including classics such as “Master of Puppets”, “Wherever I May Roam”, “Whiplash”, “Sad But True”, and “The Unforgiven”. 1988’s “One” was particularly tight, with its signature palm-muted guitar and double-kick riffage inspiring a thousand flailing arms in the mosh pit.

      Steve Barmash

      A fun moment took place when a purple, sparkly drum kit arose from the small-pit stage, with Lars Ulrich promptly placing a small boy (with a very cool dad in the crowd) behind the toms. The child proceeded to bash the cymbals and kept going as the band tried to talk to the audience. Ulrich then hilariously scooted the boy back to his father in the pit before launching into 1981’s seminal “Seek and Destroy”.

      The encore included early favourite “Fight Fire With Fire”, played much heavier and faster than on the record. That led into power ballad “Nothing Else Matters”, and the band closed out with “Enter Sandman” as the fireworks erupted and the crowd revelled in the arena’s beer-breath air.  As the song ended, the band added an extra riff and Hetfield sang a super-cheesy “We love Vancouverrrr-uuuhh!”

      Though chock-full of stadium rock cheese, Metallica’s energy still inspired countless hand gestures of metal horns aiming to the sky.