Metallica @ Energy Solutions Arena

Posted November 12, 2008 in
Nov. 3, 2008
Energy Solutions Arena

Even before Metallica’s concert at the Delta Center, err, I mean Energy Solutions Arena started, I found myself getting nostalgic, so bear with me folks –– this review is in part nostalgia and in part a critique of the concert. There are many metal fans, especially around my age, that started out with Metallica. Call them a gateway drug, if you will, into metal’s seedy underbelly. As a teenager, with the Internet not really existing, not having MTV and just listening to what was on rock radio stations, Metallica was the heaviest thing around, hence the coolest. I think many of my generation’s fans (the late ‘80s-‘90s generation) have outgrown the band and have gone on to explore other fathoms of metal or music.

Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of Metallica
Photo courtesy of

A large part of the nostalgia factor for me is that when I was fifteen, Metallica came to town, played at what is now the Energy Solutions Arena. At the time I worshiped the band, even the album they had just released, Load. Long story short, I wound up going to the concert with my dad, who I did not have the closest relationship with at the time. I was the typical rebelling teenager. I almost felt like my dad only wanted to go just to baby-sit me. To make things even more interesting, my dad, who has been writing professionally for over 35 years, had the idea of writing a review/feature for the Salt Lake Tribune on what it was like to go to a metal concert with his son, and part of the feature was for me to write a piece saying what it was like going to my first metal concert with my dad. Well by the end of the year, the story had won an award, and when I look back, it was that moment that initiated my writing career. I realize now my dad went because he wanted to understand my world and what I was interested in, and since that time, we’ve seen Slayer, Pantera, Morbid Angel, Alice Cooper, The Rolling Stones, Journey and plenty of metal and non-metal bands together. I have come to try to follow my father’s ethics and ideals of writing, keeping an open mind, never judging anything by preconceived notions. I would die a happy man if my writing could turn into the career and life-changer that it has been for my father. It has already opened worlds to me I never thought would exist, I can’t imagine where it will take me in the future.

As for the concert itself, it was more of a nostalgic experience for me and my wife, who joined me to see Metallica for her first time. We both knew the old songs: every riff, solo, lyric, drumming portion so on and so forth. Unfortunately, Metallica started off with two songs from Death Magnetic the band’s newest album, which I’ve listened to but haven’t really gotten into. I knew one of the songs was “The End of the Line,” and the feelings I had when I was a teen seeing Metallica and drawing off the bands energy were empty and gone. Even when the band got done opening with the new tracks and Ride the Lighting’s epic “Creeping Death” was played, nostalgia set in, but that’s it –– the emotions that the song stirred up in me as a teen did not return, just feelings of ‘that was a cool song,’ sunk in. Overall that was the feeling I gathered throughout the show, through songs new and old, with one exception: the thrashing epic “Disposable Heroes,” from Master of Puppets was a treat, a song I had never seen the band play live before. The bands set consisted of about four new songs, one song from the Load album, four from The Black Album, “One” from the And Justice…record, three songs from Master of Puppets, one from Kill ‘em All and for the encore, two cover tunes: “Die Die My Darling” and “So What.” In my opinion a pretty bland set.

The stage set-up was poor, with plenty of stage room. It left band members roaming about playing to different sides of the arena, giving a feeling of no togetherness amongst the band. Hell, the great part of metal shows, is watching the band feed of one another’s energy and play together as one unit. Also with the money the band has now you’d think they could make an amusing stage show. They did on the Load tour with a staged accident that left speaker towers and lighting falling, with a roadie running around on fire. For this show there was some pretty pathetic usage of pyro, just flames spurting from the stage at certain heavy moments of tunes, and the even dumber use of laser lighting. The lamest aspect of the show was the giant lighting rigs, designed into silver coffins that frequently moved around, and laughably at times looked like they were going to hit members in the head.

I felt like a minority in the crowd, which was diverse in age and appearance –– teens, kids, and adults all rocking out, headbanging, dancing, small pits going on the floor of the arena and plenty of sing-alongs. Maybe the fact that I’ve become cynical, from listening to plenty of music I find superior to Metallica or all the lawsuits and temper tantrums the band has had in their recent years have turned me off to what they still are to many people, legends. So maybe my jaded opinion of the band, has me missing out on that fun, which is a loss for me, but for the fans, its just another great memory of seeing their favorite band, or for some newbies, it will turn into one of those fond memories, like the one that I carry with myself. Either way you look at it Metallica is legendary, and changed what heavy metal is, period.