September 30, 2016 Metallica Seek And Destroy Webster Hall, NYC 9-27-16
It is no secret that Metallica is considered one of the most influential bands in Heavy Metal history. It was their unprecedented speed in the early eighties that brought Thrash Metal to the forefront along with others such as Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth. Often referred to as the gateway to Metal music for many, they attained a substantial amount of commercial success in the early nineties following their 1991 self-titled album, often referred to as The Black Album, and the history behind this iconic band is endless.
All this said, over the recent years, Metallica has been diligently working on a long anticipated release of their tenth studio album, Hardwired… to Self Destruct. Now, it is just under two months until the release date of November 18th under their own Blackened Recordings, and the countdown is on. While Metallica has currently not booked a full WorldWired tour yet, they have made a few appearances. including the recent performance at the grand opening of the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 20th. It was shortly after the Minnesota show the album announcement was made official, along with the introduction to their new tune, “Hardwired.”
Following this news, Metallica announced performing at the recent Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York City as they opened up for Rihanna. An exciting time for the Big Apple, on Saturday, September 24th, a surprising announcement came down. The announcement was a contest for the fifth member only of Metallica, their Fanclub, and it was a chance to win or purchase two tickets for a last minute show on Tuesday, September 27th, at Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom in New York City. All proceeds from this event was to go out to City Harvest, a great cause, it was also an excellent opportunity for diehard Metallica fans to see the football stadium act at a smaller scaled venue. An event not to be missed.
Once arriving at the venue, there was a group of fans who formed a line of their own that held out a sign called “the loser line,” as they lost the contest hoping to get inside. Little did anyone know, the venue decided to surprise many with wristbands for an opportunity to win tickets at the original price, considering how extremely high the value of the tickets went up on the open market. In addition, not only was everyone there to see Metallica, and celebrate and honor a charity cause, but they were there on the exact thirtieth anniversary of the tragic loss of Bassist Cliff Burton. It was the tour in 1986 for the promotion of the band’s third album, Master of Puppets, when Burton tragically died in a horrific bus accident in Sweden on the early morning of September 27th.
With many thoughts racing through their minds, after the crowd passed through the added tight-knit security and managed to pack Webster Hall completely, it was time for legends James Hetfield (vocals/rhythm guitar), Lars Ulrich (drums), Kirk Hammett (lead guitar), and Rob Trujillo (bass) to walk onto the platform. A surreal moment for many, this time, there was no “Ecstacy of Gold” introduction as Hetfield looked into the crowd as though he had something he wanted to say. Instead, he went right into “Breadfan,” a tune that has not been performed live since 2013. There was an incredible amount of energy as they continued to thrash through the song before Hetfield said, “We are going to have some fun New York City.” With that, they moved into “Holier Than Thou,” another tune that has not been performed live in three years.
Without any break, they continued with “Battery” as fans continued to cheer along. Then, after a brief pause, Hetfield stated, “It feels good New York City! Are you with us?” Provoking an instant positive reaction, Hetfield continued, “Are you alive? How does it feel to be alive?” Historically something asked at the band’s live performances, it never gets old. From there, everyone continued to cheer in the traditional “Hey! Hey! Hey!” as the band moved into “Harvester of Sorrow.” Hammett went into what was known as a guitar doodle as the rest of the band briefly left the stage. The solo continued to intensify up until an acoustic guitar was heard by Hetfield as the emotional tune “Fade to Black” soon followed. Everyone sang along to the guitar opening interlude, which morphed into screaming bliss before the instrumental breakdown as Hammett went into a slightly different guitar solo when the tune heavily progressed. The acoustics in the room echoed differently than the usual stadiums, creating an intimate and unique quality.
Hetfield spoke once again, “We played a lot of stuff from other albums. What the hell? What took eight years you guys? I don’t know, but eight years went by fast somehow, but not for you guys. What the hell? Well, that was a few things that we were doing, which was writing. We are super excited to have the new album out in November. We are bringing new songs out here and there. We are doing one right now, have you seen the new video for ‘Moth’ yet? We are here to play this song live for the first time.” Hetfield continued, stating how the new “Moth Into Flame” was to be played live for the first time, special for the New York folks. After the official live debut, Hetfield asked, “Was that all right?,” to which the cheers were deafening as a thumbs up of approval.
Moving along with classic tunes including “Sad But True,” more crowd participation came in the form of singing . Then the venue stood quietly as Trujillo and Ulrich slowly ignited into “Orion,” the tune that was evidently in honor of Cliff Burton. Continuing to sing along, during the massive bass solo, it was clearly visible that a feeling of sorrow took over the venue, reflecting on Burton, all while Trujillo did a phenomenal job. Once the tune was over, Hetfield took the microphone in a softer stance and simply stated, “Thirty years, we miss you Cliff!” This proved no matter how many years have passed, the void and loss has not left them.
Shifting the mood, “One” began as fans screamed once the first chord hit and sang along. The classics continued as “Master of Puppets” came in next. Then, fists were raised during “Master! Master!” Just before the instrumental breakdown, Hetfield demanded, “Loud and proud family!” This inspired a sing along during the interlude, a notorious moment during their live performances where arms were raised and voices were flowing to the emotive breakdown. This continued up until Ulrich kicked off the next verse, as everyone moved back to the “Master! Master!” fist-pumping frenzy. Hetfield asked the crowd, “I hope you’re ready to get loud. Are you ready to get loud?” Yelling in response, Metallica moved into “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and Hetfield had everyone follow him along with the “Hey! Hey! Hey!” chanting. Once again, Hammett’s solo echoed across the smaller venue flawlessly and the riffs continued to shift before the set concluded with “Enter Sandman.”
As Metallica left the stage, fans chanted out the intro to “The Frayed Ends of Sanity” in hopes to hear an encore. Shortly after, Metallica returned as Hetfield asked the audience, “You guys stopped singing. What happened?” Reacting, they went back into singing the aforementioned song as Hetfield did them the honor of playing a little snippet of it. Continuing to sing along, Hetfield looked into the audience in awe of the connection between the band and the fans. After, they moved into a surprising encore tune, “Whiskey in the Jar,” followed by new song “Hardwired.” Hetfield asked, “OK, you got time for one more? Are you sure? Alright, what should it be? Something new or something old?” Shouting loudly for different tunes, Hetfield responded, “From Kill ‘Em All, that was like one hundred years ago, but it feels like yesterday. This one is loud and proud.” With that, they closed with the iconic “Seek and Destroy” as everyone lost their voice, and their mind.
Hetfield took the microphone and told the crowd, “Metallica loves you family, thank you, we appreciate you and good night!” Begging for one more song, Hetfield praised the audience one last time and, finally, each member had a chance to speak to the audience as Hammett grabbed the microphone saying, “You guys are fucking great, thank you so much. Yeah!” Trujillo briefly stated, “All right New York, let me get a HUH!” Then Ulrich closed the evening with a statement that left hope for a tour saying, “You know what? Thirty-three years ago, Metallica came to New York for the first time. We’ve played a lot of fucking shows with you guys. From Jersey to the Madison Square Garden, Roseland, Giants Stadium, everywhere. So it’s great to be back in a fucking club, and you know what we got? A new record, coming out in November, and maybe we will see you guys again. Next year, maybe somewhere outdoors across the river!”
Leaving fans to devise their own conclusion on that statement, hopefully Metallica will, in fact, be back soon. Until then, this was a special and memorable evening that many will treasure for the rest of their lives. Metallica will be playing at the Annual Bridge School Benefit in California on both nights of October 22nd and 23rd, followed by a South American Tour. Stay tuned for more updates on a hopeful WorldWired tour. In the meantime, take a moment to pre-order one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2016, Hardwired… to Self Destruct.