Metallica: World Wired Tour 2017- Rogers Centre – A Review

Posted: 07/21/2017 in Uncategorized

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It is rare to see a band be at it so long and having lost neither edge nor passion for their craft. Over thirty years has brought one unfortunate demise via bassist Cliff Burton and one rancorous roster change via the departure of Jason Neusted. The band has not diminished despite these happenings. If anything they have grown stronger and shine all the brighter. Before 50, 000 fans at the Roger’s Centre, Metallica taught a life’s worth of lessons via a broad pastiche of powerful, rafter shaking metal. They came to play, they came to thrill and proved that their best days are still ahead of them.

Opening act Volbeat was clearly thrilled just to be here. They struggled with shaky sound, but the lead vocalist’s (Michael Poulsen) powerhouse vocals, crowd engaging banter and ebullience overall made them a welcome starter for what was to come. Their two hits got the crowd running with tight versions of “The Devil’s Bleeding Crowd” and “Heaven Nor Hell”. Their other tracks were actually as good if not superior. This band showed a broad range of influence from hard edged metal to rockabilly and even older style country. Poulsen’s Johnny Cash homage killed. That the arena was almost half full when they appeared at 6pm was telling and impressive for while these guys have been around since 2001, their breakout year was assuredly 2016-2017 and when they wrapped up, they left with more fans than they started with, including me.

Ah…Avenged Seven Fold. They came, they saw,  they conquered? Not so much. Led by M. Shadows, this LA based metal/alt rock band seemed to squander and opportunity with swagger, flash and little substance. Like Volbeat, the sound was an issue. Unlike Volbeat, Shadows and crew didn’t seem to care as their blessed presence gifting Toronto seemed enough. Warbling over loud guitar, diminished vocals and really an underwhelming performance overall made their hour seem overlong. I am sure many would disagree with me, but I saw what I saw and heard what I heard and with over twenty years of concerts behind me, I stand by my opinion. Avenged was more Nickelback than Black Sabbath. They did compliment TO for having a baseball team that was kind enough to make them shirts (Blue Jays).

Any sin or nuisance brought forth by A.S. was quickly eliminated with the opening strains of “The Ecstacy of Gold” with due Clint Eastwood Western movie images on screen. Metallica started with a roar and bellowed through to their encore. They opened with a blistering “Hardwired” before melding seamlessly into “Atlas Rise.” The place erupted throughout. The voices of the fans shook the rafters as much as the band’s playing. Flying into the classics, namely “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, the band’s momentum seemed set to full blast. Guitar work from Kirk Hammett blasted away anything put forth by musicians and self styled guitar gods half his age. Lars Ulrich as always plays like his life depends on it, bringing the fury of Armageddon with him. Rob Trujillo’s pounding bass framed the music nicely as he certifies his place in these rock n roll echelons. James Hetfield, who proclaims he sings like a sailor, brings the thunder with a voice that is undiminished and in fact refined with age.

The audience duly fired up, Metallica moved forward to Load’s “Fuel” before a powerful rendition of the groundbreaking Black album’s “Unforgiven”. Moving forward to their present work, Metallica jumped in with “Now That We’re Dead” which they made stratospheric with a tribal drum solo featuring the entire band that had to be witnessed for both its chemistry and perfect rhythm. “Moth Into Flame” was described by Hetfield as a cautionary tale about fame.  In a previous review, I marveled at how good “Hardwired To Self-Destruct” is. Hearing it live made it even more so. This is not a band in their nadir. They still have the fire inside.

The band then dipped back into “Wherever I May Roam” from the Black Album. “Halo on Fire”, one of my favorites from their new album featured guitar work that maintains Hammett’s legacy as one of the best rock guitarists alive. His barreling riffs, tempered with Hetfield’s downpicking superiority made the music echo  as much emotionally as it does artistically. The video that accompanied the song resonated, featuring a young bruised woman intimating potential abuse before barreling forth with its true meaning featuring her as a fighter versus a victim. What amazes is that the new material is every bit as good as the established, legacy work. A bass solo followed by Trujillo honoring the memory of Cliff Burton, along with a brief neck in neck musical volley between he and Hammett.

Hetfield’s comments about family and embracing life seemed all the more relevant with the recent passing of two established music icons. The welcoming moments, in which they acknowledged playing their first concert in TO 32 years ago before acknowledging new fans who actually made up half of the attendance by my reckoning, delivered. A moment with a father and son sitting front row was well…awesome as Hetfield spoke to both, undoubtedly giving the 13 year old fan something to remember for a life time. Another cool moment was Lars Ulrich bringing up a young fan to play an opening drum segment before returning him to the pit up front. Honestly, this would not have occurred ten years ago and this musical evolution is a beautiful thing.

More hits followed from “Hit the Lights” to “Seek and Destroy”…which pretty much did. Standouts were “One” in which a simulated fire fight featuring lasers, marching corpse animated imagery and a general din featuring the bleak brutality of war simply soared. The drumming alone makes this a classic, but coupled with the anti-war sentiment and the gritty, powerful vocals of Hetfield, this song hits you where you live. Master of Puppets brought the already energized crowd to its feet to the song’s ultimate crescendo featuring Hetfield’s sinister laughter. “Seek and Destroy” was offered with a delivery surpassing that of their youth, bringing a manic vitality to the established hit.

Punctuating their supremacy, Metallica encored with “Blackened”, “Nothing Else Matters” and a meteoric rendition of “Enter Sandman”. Capping off the event with flame and fireworks was just gravy, a sugary topping to what was an exceptional, filling meal of metal at its finest and most refined. Metallica is simply outstanding and well worth your time. If you have yet to see them, make a point of doing so. You will not be disappointed.

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