Bob Rock. Napster. Haircuts.
Over the past two decades, Metallica have become better at alienating their audience than downing Jaeger pints and crying in therapy. For a period in the late 90’s – early 2000’s, it seemed like there wasn’t a news story or music video that didn’t cause thrashers raised on Ride The Lightning to run back to their vinyl collection and pray for Cliff Burton’s resurrection. That’s the anomaly of Metallica’s career: they created 4 of the greatest records of all time, and no matter what bullshit they now feed to their fans, the diehards will still show up in droves, hoping that the power that drove the band through the 80’s will shine through the graying, inked-up, family man façade that is Metallica in 2009.
This was my 2nd time seeing Metallica; the previous being on my 21st birthday, where I didn’t even get shitfaced pre-arrival because I wanted to actually see/remember the show. For the rebate performance, that idealism went right out the window. Four Loko, Sparks and a Genny Cream Ale were my beverages of choice to prepare for the 1 mile stroll to the arena. Lamb of God and some insufferable Social Distortion imposters were the openers, which we managed to miss due to the aforementioned drinks at hand. While waiting in line for an overpriced Coors Light, “The Ecstasy of Gold” chimed over the house speakers, which is the cue for the set to start. I didn’t rush out of line, however. Metallica records and sells each show as a digital download, and if you check out LiveMetallica.com, you’ll notice that each set is almost the same every night, save for switching out a few older tracks. This makes skipping a song to piss a whole lot easier.
Being born in 1983 kept me from witnessing any of the legendary tours of the bands prime, but I can’t imagine the crowds back then being nearly as lame as the one that gathered at the Times Union Center. The “that guy” rule was definitely not in effect; you couldn’t walk 3 feet without bumping into a brand-new $30 tour shirt, or a faux-vintage Master of Puppets tee that was likely purchased at Macy’s or Hot Topic. The nerdy dudes I was surrounded by in “the pit” were almost oblivious to my intoxicated headbanging and constant screaming in their ears. If this were a Slayer show, I probably would’ve been punted about 4 songs in, but these guys just took it. I thought I would be into checking out the new songs live, but they don’t really sound any better in person. In between the new material were choice cuts from the first 5 records, spare “The Memory Remains”, maybe one of the worst singles they ever released. As “Master of Puppets” came to an end, a pre-recorded tape chimed the opening acoustic notes of “Battery”; after that, the rest of the night was a blur.
This might sound like a bad review, but the show itself was a great time. There is no real way to compare the Metallica of today to the Metallica of yesteryear, but if you’re young, you wouldn’t know better anyway. If you get the chance, don’t pass it up, heed these words, though: keep your expectations low, and your blood/alcohol content high.