There’s something about the intimacy of a huge act playing a small club and the energy that such a show brings to the room. The lucky few that get to see such a performance are always in for something extraordinary. Only Metallica, the big ONE, can make the 3200 capacity standing room floor of the Hollywood Palladium feel intimate.
After playing the Grammy’s with Lady Gaga about a half hour away at Staples Center, the entire Metallica camp trucked their way through LA traffic on the 101 freeway, to finally end up at the legendary Sunset Strip venue. The line was wrapped almost completely around the venue and the buzz in the line was a mix of anticipation and impatience, which blended to create a firework like energy that is just waiting to explode. Huge props to the bands crew, for when the doors opened at a promptly 9:00PM, none of the stage had even begun to be setup, as the crates with “Metallica” painted on them (which got huge cheers from the growing crowd) were just starting to be rolled onto the stage. The crew managed to put together a spectacular stage setup under enormous pressure and I wanted to specifically give a nod to them.
A now packed house is eagerly awaiting the almighty Metallica to hit the stage, and the energy in the room was like that of a corked bottle just waiting to be popped. There are a few trademarks of a Metallica show that mega fans always can expect, and that is when the lights go black, for the epic, The Ecstasy of Gold by legendary composer, Ennio Morricone to blare through the speakers. A sure sign the band is about to hit the stage and when this eventually did happen, an earthquake hit the entire perimeter of the Palladium, and the crowd was the epicenter.
Metallica takes the stage with intensity and rips right into Hardwired, the first track off their new album, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct and the audience basically did, self-destruct. There have been concerns whether or not the new record would hold up to the heavy thrash metal in their older catalog, however, Hardwired was an absolute perfect opener to kick things off.
Hardwired was the last post 1991 Metallica song that was played that night. The setlist was a short 10 songs, however, if there were 9 songs to be chosen for the next Metallica Greatest Hits, what they played would be the ones to put on it, no question. It was an absolute dream for older and newer generation Metallica fans to see such an intense show with all the hits from the earlier albums. Without saying much of anything to the crowd between songs, they pushed right into Creeping Death and For Whom The Bell Tolls, which when played back to back the way they were, made for some heavy head banging and a huge circle pit thrashing its way through the center of the room.
For a solid hour, it was all metal, no talking, aside from one thing front man James Hetfield said after the 3rd song, and it was; “We’re here to really let it all out tonight so…look out”, which drove the crowd into a frenzy and using this to their advantage, the band went into the classics, Welcome Home, Sanitarium and Harvester of Sorrow. After speaking to a few people who have seen Metallica in the past, Sanitarium is especially a treat, because many of them had never seen these songs played live and after some research, it isn’t a song that is typically on their repertoire!
Harvester of Sorrow in particular shows the band’s dominance as a 4-piece unit. The gritty rawness it has is the vintage Metallica sound everyone knows and loves, and they deliver it to the crowd as if they were still in 1988. Particularly, the low-end section of the group rattles the insides of everyone inside the 11,200 square foot building with bassist Robert Trujillo, and drummer Lars Ulrich delivering such power and rhythm with their instruments that people’s teeth were rattling in their mouths.
A massive highlight of the night was, One. The slow transition the song has, from a slow melodic first half, to one of the heaviest and thrashiest latter halves in existence, pulsed its way through every single person’s eardrums and not one head wasn’t banging because there is honestly no way not to when Metallica is crushing the stage. Hetfield leads the erupting crowd during One when they go into the hardest part of the song with, “Darkness, imprisoning me, I cannot see, absolute horror…”. The floor could be felt physically moving up and down and it didn’t stop there, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett ripped right into the opening riff of Master of Puppets which proved his shredding capabilities haven’t diminished in the slightest. Of course, they “ended” the night with the mega hit, Enter Sandman which as a crowd favorite received one of the biggest reactions of the entire night.
After Sandman the lights go dark and the crowd inevitably chants “one more song, one more song” well, we got two, and they were both thrash classics from the first and third Metallica albums, Blackened, which I personally believe got the biggest circle pit of the night going, and to end the evening off their 1983 album, Kill em’ All, Seek and Destroy.
The only way to put it, is Metallica came and brought it! They rocked the stage like they were still in their 20s and the energy of the room was unique to February 12, 2017 and will never be repeated. Leaving the venue, hundreds of fans were still belting out Metallica lyrics and the buzzing energy that had been there all night was still coursing through everyone’s veins. Metallica came, they saw, and they kicked Hollywood’s ass.