September 24, 2018

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Heavy metal fans go stone cold crazy for Metallica

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Metallica lead singer James Hetfield had the fans on their feet during the band's 2-1/2 hour show Thursday night at Bell MTS Place.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Metallica lead singer James Hetfield had the fans on their feet during the band's 2-1/2 hour show Thursday night at Bell MTS Place.

It's been nearly a decade since American thrash-metal icons Metallica graced the stage at Bell MTS Place, and given the volume of people in attendance, it's clear they've been missed.

More than 17,000 fans packed Bell MTS Place to the brim Thursday night (True North Sports and Entertainment previously stated this show is expected to set an attendance record for the building) for a two-hour and twenty-minute show showcasing songs from all corners of the band's nearly 40-year career.

Metallica is in the back half of their three-year, 134-city WorldWired tour in support of their most recent release, 2016's Hardwired... To Self-Destruct, and ripped through two songs from that record — the title track and Atlas, Rise! — right off the top. It was an absolutely face-melting level of sound from the word go, but who would expect anything less from Metallica?

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It's been nearly a decade since American thrash-metal icons Metallica graced the stage at Bell MTS Place, and given the volume of people in attendance, it's clear they've been missed.

More than 17,000 fans packed Bell MTS Place to the brim Thursday night (True North Sports and Entertainment previously stated this show is expected to set an attendance record for the building) for a two-hour and twenty-minute show showcasing songs from all corners of the band's nearly 40-year career.

Click to Expand

Metallica helps Winnipeg Harvest

Before delivering a face-melting show to more than 17,000 fans at Bell MTS Place Thursday night, Metallica cut a $10,000 cheque to Winnipeg Harvest.

The American thrash-metal titans have been making donations to food banks in cities on its current WorldWired tour, using money from their All Within My Hands Foundation. Created in 2017, the foundation’s aim is to give back to the communities that have supported the band by donating time and money to “critical local services” such as food banks and workforce-education programs.

So far in 2018, Metallica has supported food banks across the European leg of its tour, as well as Feeding America and the World Childhood Foundation, among other organizations.

Winnipeg was one of just two Canadian dates on the North American leg of the WorldWired Tour. Metallica will play a sold-out show in Saskatoon tonight.

 

 

Metallica is in the back half of their three-year, 134-city WorldWired tour in support of their most recent release, 2016's Hardwired... To Self-Destruct, and ripped through two songs from that record — the title track and Atlas, Rise! — right off the top. It was an absolutely face-melting level of sound from the word go, but who would expect anything less from Metallica?

"Oh you know this one, huh?" vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield joked as the band blasted the opening notes of Seek and Destroy from their debut 1983 album Kill Em' All. The crowd bellowed so loudly the entire building vibrated right up to the rafters.

Metallica's members are all in their 50's, but they approach their live show with a wonderfully youthful spirit that is to their benefit given the diverse demographics of their audience. For many in attendance, this concert was a family affair; one glance around the room and numerous sets of parents and children could easily be picked out of the crowd.

"I do see old people, I see old people, and that would be me... I'm kidding," Hetfield, 55, laughed as he looked around the room.

"I see a lot of middle aged people here who are kicking ass, taking names, and doing what they gotta do to take care of their family, and I also do see the youth... We got little ones, there's one right now," he said as he points to a small girl who reveals she is just eight years old. He singles out another kid, this time a boy in the front row, who is 12.

"Beautiful," Hetfield sighs.

Though Metallica kicked off the night with two newer tracks, much of the setlist was a roster of their greatest hits: longtime fan-faves Fuel, Creeping Death, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Sad But True and One all made the cut for the main set.

Whether you appreciate Metallica's style of music or not, the skill of these musicians is undeniable. Fingers fly up and down fretboards with astonishing speed and accuracy, and as a drummer, Lars Ulrich is consistent and entertaining. His showmanship can be cheesy at times, but that's infinitely preferable to a guy or gal who just sits behind the kit and doesn't contribute much else.

Metallica is no stranger to a 360-degree concert stage and navigated the potentially awkward set-up with casual ease; microphones were set up on all sides and corners, which Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo took turns using as they constantly paced the perimeter of the stage, making sure fans in every section got some face time. Ulrich was on his usual rotating platform in the centre of stage, but hopped off now and then to encourage the audience to be louder, which literally was not possible.

One notable thing about the staging is how low it was to the ground; it couldn't have been more than two metres high, and when surrounded on all sides with thousands of fist-pumping metal heads on the floor, it made for a very immersive experience for both the band and the fans.

Metallica also included some pretty creative multimedia elements, using floating cubes to display videos, photos and act as extra lighting and had robotic moths flying around them during Moth Into a Flame. Otherwise, the stage was basically bare, save for a few bits and bobs that popped up from underneath, including four box drums that each band member played during Now That We're Dead, and, of course, some pyrotechnical equipment.

Hammett and Trujillo took a minute mid-set to pay homage to one of our local music icons, as they have been doing in most cities on this tour, choosing to blast out a hilarious, but also kind of awesome, rendition of BTO's Takin' Care of Business. It was a great moment, and nice to see they put some effort into changing things up for each city.

Master of Puppets closed out the main set and, after a quick trip off stage, the quartet came back for a three-song encore which included some of their biggest hits (and more pyro), namely the moody Nothing Else Matters and crowd-pleaser Enter Sandman.

Before they left the stage for good, the men spent a solid five minutes throwing guitar picks and drumsticks to the throngs of fans below, and each musician took a turn at the mike to thank everyone for coming, with Ulrich recalling their first show in Winnipeg in December of 1986.

Metallica is known for their live shows, and after attending one, it's easy to see why; not only are they great musicians at the top of their genre, they are engaging and energetic, and despite the fact they have been on this tour for more than two years already, they are still clearly having fun.

What they do doesn't feel routine or pre-packaged (even though I'm sure much of it is) which is an easy lull to fall into. It's an unexpectedly intimate experience given the size of the room and genre of the music, and all the credit goes to the band for creating and nurturing that environment.

Fans who hit the venue early were treated to some Metallica-based humour and solid hype-man work from comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member Jim Breuer, who hosted a pre-show party which also featured T-shirt giveaways and DJs spinning rock and metal tunes that got the crowd appropriately amped for the main act. A few lucky folks were also chosen to move from the rafters to the floor, getting upgraded tickets gifted to them courtesy of Metallica. It was an interesting way to start the night, but seemed to suit the desires of the crowd (extra time to chat, look at merch, get a couple extra drinks in) more than an opening musical act would have.

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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History

Updated on Friday, September 14, 2018 at 8:45 AM CDT: Typos fixed.

2:26 PM: shortened headline

September 17, 2018 at 11:05 AM: adds harvest sidebar

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