Sports Authority Field at Mile High - Denver, Colorado
June 7, 2017
The storm was supposed to roll through early - before opening acts Volbeat and Avenged Sevenfold took the stage. It did. But as is often the case in Colorado, Mother Nature always has a few tricks up her sleeve. This was to be a triumphant return for the band. It had been almost a decade since Hetfield, Ulrich, Trujillo and Hammett graced a stage in this town and the 60,000+ in attendance were primed and ready for action.
One thing that can always be counted on at a Metallica show - when those lights drop, and the strains of Ecstasy of Gold start coming through the PA, the surge of energy is palpable. They didn't write it, but the song is now as synonymous with Metallica as it is with Morricone. The band wasted no time in tearing through a double shot from their new album - title track Hardwired and Atlas, Rise! This defies what Metallica has often done in opening a show with a classic tune like say, Creeping Death but their new album Hardwired...to Self-Destruct is a beast of and album and they know it.
The band then followed up with two from Ride The Lightning, For Whom The Bell Tolls and the aforementioned Creeping Death. This must have woke the heavens because as soon as The Unforgiven began, so did the rain. Sprinkles at first, but increasing as the song played on. Then came the Lightning. As soon as Unforgiven was done, the band cleared the stage and the announcement came up - everybody clear the outside area and get to shelter as soon as possible. This means tens of thousands of wet, annoyed people were now crammed into the concession area like the angriest sauna you've ever seen. None of this was the band's fault, of course - nor were they being overly cautious. The spring/summer storms here are no joke, and by the time everyone actually got undercover, it was pouring rain and the forks of Lightning coming down were quite spectacular. It was looking very close to the show being cancelled, but as tends to be the case in Colorado, the storm moved on rather quickly and within an hour, everyone was back out, drenched and ready to resume the festivities.
Hitting the stage once again with Now That We're Dead, complete with a Taiko drum battle between all the members, the rest of the show went off without any major hitches, aside from a couple of missed cues and timing issues. While the long wait between Metallica albums has become frustrating for fans, it's remarkable to see that in almost a decade, the band hasn't lost any of their power on stage. Hetfield still stalks the stage while Kirk runs around like a hyperactive kid - hammering through newer classics like One and old classics like Motorbreath. There's not a lot of stadium-worthy rock bands left in this world, but Metallica is worthy and then some. Sure there was some grumbling about the price of tickets of this tour, but see this show, and you'll know where the money went. State of the art sound, keeping the echoes to a minimum and screens as high as the stadium walls. They've come a long, long way from The Stone in San Francisco, but between the high standards of production and the good ol' snake pit, you can tell they still love what they do and it shows. Now if we can just get them back to town before my AARP membership kicks in.