Seven years ago, heavy metal rocked the Northlands Colliseum.
Times have changed, the arena has changed, the show has changed… but heavy metal is back.
On March 22nd Metallica and Godsmack blew the roof off of Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and I was there amidst the guitar riffs and reefer smoke. In recent years Metallica has come under fire for their lawsuit against Napster and their latest album, St. Anger, which wasn’t really given as fair a shake as it deserved as far as critics are concerned(see Chaos’ review of St. Anger elsewhere on this site for a very in-depth analysis that puts most professional critics to shame). When the lights went down, however, not a single person in the arena could care less about Napster or the critics. On March 22nd it was all about Metallica.
But first it was about Godsmack. Because security insisted on searching every single person who entered the venue for drugs(they didn’t look very hard, judging by the entire row of folks stoned stupid in front of me), the show which was supposed to start at 7:00 didn’t begin until closer to 8:00. People complained, but once the music started all was forgiven. An extended version of “Awake” kicked things off, followed by Godsmack frontman Sully Erna informing people that there was only one rule to a Godsmack/Metallica show: “nobody sits on their asses like a fuckin’ 85 year old man”. That said, everybody was on their feet as the band tore through “Straight Outta Line”, “Keep Away”, and a song off of their first album that I can’t remember the name of. Then came “Voodoo”. Lights designed to look like candles illuminated the stage and lighters everywhere were lit. Words can’t really describe the amazingness of hearing this song live, so I won’t even try. What I can describe, however, is the dueling drums that followed it up. The regular drummer, who’s name I don’t recall started a drumline. The spotlight then shone on the second drumset, which everybody had thought was Metallica’s, behind which Sully was perched playing bongos. After several minutes and some improvised guitar and bass parts, Sully broke out some sticks and the drum duel began, with each drummer trying to outdo one another. After several more minutes, an absolutely superb version of “Whatever” and an excellent rendition of “I Stand Alone”, Godsmack was done.
After a plug for a documentary based on the making of St. Anger and all the drama involved with James Hetfield’s alcohol abuse, and an intermission long enough to allow the stage to be modified with a weird ramp thingie(excuse the technical terms) that would allow Metallica’s members to go all over the stage(which was massive) without much trouble, it was time. The lights went down and the sound came on, and it was wild. Trying to put the feeling and energy of the show into words would be a waste of effort on my part. It was one of those “you have to see it to believe it” sort of things. ‘Tallica’s playlist included “Blackened”, “Harvester of Sorrow”, “Frantic”, “St. Anger”, “Nothing Else Matters”, “Welcome Home(Sanitarium), and “King Nothing”, as well as the heavy hitters of the show. “Sad But True”, which was supposedly the last song of the night, was a big hit with the crowd, who sang along throughout the entire tune. Then everybody thought the show was over. Nope. Wrong. For the first of three or four times, Metallica started playing again after they said they were done.
The place went dark. Pyro the likes of which I’ve never seen before went off around the lighting fixtures. It sounded like and looked like everybody in the building had each tossed a grenade at the stage. When the lights came back up the lighting fixtures had been replaced with twisted steel hanging limply from the ceiling and “One” started up. “Master of Puppets”, the second best song of the night, and “Seek And Destroy”, number one, were the highlights in my opinion. Those two tracks had the entire audience headbanging and screaming for more. After “Seek And Destroy”, it was all over. Actually all over, not just another false ending.
I went home exhausted, smelling like pot, and basking in the knowledge that I had just attended the greatest concert of my life.