Metallica Shreds the Hits in Highly Self-Aware Concert at the Q

Metallica shredded Cleveland last night, and we hope you were there to enjoy every ear-bleeding minute of it. The legendary metal band dropped by the Q to wrap up a leg of its mighty WorldWired tour in support of Hardwired... to Self-Destruct.

But that's only the surface of the story.

See a full slideshow of photos here.

Nearly 40 years into a stellar career at the helm of American-made metal, Metallica finds itself seated comfortably atop a legacy. The band continues to tour, obviously, and in those shows the musicians seem to find themselves anew. The crowd, which has been faithfully attending shows for just as long, is likewise perfectly at ease with the sort of self-aware nostalgia that ripples through each song. As singer/guitarist/metal icon James Hetfield repeatedly said last night, this is all about "the Metallica family." Young and old, all are welcome.

Of course, there's a new album in the spotlight. Hetfield sort of tiptoed around that blatant fact, at one point asking the crowd if it would be OK to play some new stuff. In Cleveland, on a cold night in February, we were all in.

The new tunes worked well. Set opener "Hardwired" and "Atlas, Rise!" got the crowd in the mood after a lengthy wait for the band (and after a good-not-great metalhead comedy set from emcee Jim Breuer). When the band ducked into "Seek & Destroy," though, that's when the room lost its collective mind.

The rest of the night featured excellent playing from guys who could easily mail it in; what's so exciting to watch is how passionately Kirk Hammett lay into his solos and how playful drummer Lars Ulrich can be on the kit. It's all been done before, sure, but it's an art form crafted and perfected by these very dudes.

And they simply don't let up. That's the lesson, the takeaway.

There were lulls, too. A sing-along moment with Hammett and bassist Rob Trujillo didn't seem to work out (they played "Funk #49" and "My Town"), but the fact that the band was willing to try something new — and daring, even! — is a great sign of life.

The climactic event, for me, was the beautifully distorted solo in Cliff Burton's “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth,” which led wonderfully into “Hit the Lights” and a brutal “Fuel” into “Moth Into Flame." The last song, a new one, featured some wild lights that Hetfield himself felt compelled to remark upon after the song. What were those things? Drones? Magick?

And that's the thing: The lighting and stage design were masterful. I saw Metallica on the Madly at Anger With the World Tour in Cleveland (Sept. 21, 2004), and this was a significant leap forward in technical prowess. I remember some pyrotechnics at the '04 show, but last night's gig featured spell-binding cubes that swerved hypnotically around the stage and showed old footage of Burton, face-melting graphics from the Hardwired cover and lost World War iconography (during "One"). The effect of the cubes was fantastic at times.

After a long January, it was nice to see the guys again. It was a communion. We're family, after all.


Atlas, Rise!
Seek & Destroy
Wherever I May Roam
The Unforgiven
Now That We're Dead
Creeping Death
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Halo on Fire
Hit the Lights
Moth Into Flame
Sad But True
Master of Puppets

Nothing Else Matters
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About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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