Few names in music are bigger than that of Metallica. The San Francisco thrash metal band that threw a middle finger in the air and took the Frank Sinatra route. They did things their way and that road eventually led to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
The band wanted their first release to be titled, “Metal Up Your A$$,” but the band was told by their label that would not fly. The bands complied by naming it ‘Kill ‘Em All”, a nod to their lack of respect to the suits at the label.
Their partying ability was legendary and the band lived the rock’n’roll lifestyle to the full extent. Thankfully they made it through and continued to create some of the most iconic music of my generation.
My relationship with the band’s music began in late 1986 or early 1987. I was a young man that enjoyed reading magazines. I was at a small store in Eastern Kentucky when I ran across an article about this “Metallica” band. They had lost a member in a horrific bus crash. That member was of course, Bassist Cliff Burton. I had never heard a single note from Metallica, but in some adolescent idea, I needed to hear the band and in some strange way, my purchase could help the band with funeral costs.
I immediately spent my money on buying the cassette and devoured every single note of “Master Of Puppets”, for a very long time. Then my Mom found the tape and saw the song title, “Leper Messiah,” and tossed my tape. Annnnnd that’s exactly why my first CD purchase was…yep, you guessed it, ‘Master of Puppets.’
As their careers continued on, their albums began selling more and more copies and the band just kept growing at an absolute meteoric pace.
I was a soon to be a 13 year old kid when ‘…And Justice For All’ was released. That album really solidified a lot of my feelings as a youngster. It helped me learn to question things, especially authority.
Then, it happened. As a soon to be 16 year old, I was immediately captivated by the release of the ‘Black Album.’ This was a time when MTV actually played music videos. Weird, huh? There was also a program on Saturday nights that I did my best to never miss, ‘The Headbanger’s Ball!’ Eventually the popularity of “Enter Sandman” outgrew ‘The Headbanger’s Ball’ and spilled over into heavy rotation on the then music channel. The vision of the young man running from the semi and the bed being hit with the music coming in like the semi made for a visual that many, myself included, will never forget.
Metallica has sustained success through nearly forty years of an ever evolving music business and they undoubtedly are one of the biggest bands in the world.
So now you partially know my history with Metallica’s music. I hope I’m able to bring you (the reader) with me on this journey that has taken me nearly 33 years to write. Strap in and let’s lose our minds together!!
The Yum Center is by far and away the most impressive arena in our Commonwealth. (Sorry Rupp Arena) The staff there are second to none and they make us journalists feel like we’re a part of their family. I truly can’t say enough about the staff and facility. Covering a show at Yum is tiring carrying a lot of equipment up and down the stairs, but the results always outweigh the stairs.
Opening the night was a comedian. No seriously, former SNL cast member, Jim Breuer. Jim has made a name for himself as he mixes comedy and music in his routines. On this night though, he was more hype man than comedian, but make no mistake, he does his job very well.
Breuer incorporated some of the biggest songs from the last 40 years and having everyone sing-a-long really set the mood for the night. In a way, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but at the same time, you should never doubt Jim Breuer!
After AC/DC’s classic “It’s A Long Way To The Top” finished, the lights went out, “Ecstasy Of Gold” began and Louisville, Kentucky collectively lost their mind. There was nothing going to keep Louisville from enjoying their night!
I want to say that I didnt see one fight all night. There was a rather large police presence, so I’m guessing that helped curb the debauchery thankfully.
Now y’all know these fellas are Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, so their performance was great. In all honesty, it was one of the best performances I’ve ever experienced. I would place this show, which was my first Metallica show, in my top five and maybe even top three.
If you’re familiar with Metallica’s catalog of music, you’ll know that there aren’t many slow songs for them to take a break in. Their energy was high and with each song, they ramped up the intensity, much to the delight of the 23,084 fans in attendance. In fact, the total of 23,084 fans set the attendance record at the KFC Yum! Center! The record was held by George Strait.
After blistering their way through “Hardwired” and “Atlas, Rise!”, Metallica dipped way back in the archives to play one of my favorite songs in “Seek & Destroy.” Now I will say that I was a bit apprehensive about hearing the older songs, simply because James Hetfield changed the way he approached his vocals during and since the band recorded,’The Black Album’, with producer Bob Rock. “Seek & Destroy” eased my worried mind and although the vocal delivery changed, the energy was still incredible. In fact this one was an early favorite on the night.
Another favorite of mine is “Harvester Of Sorrow”, I didn’t get to see that performance as I was returning my camera equipment to the office, but Davin gave me a little tidbit I thought I’d share here. “Harvester Of Sorrow” is a song that he enjoys. His worry was that the band may have lost a step and would rely heavily on nostalgia as many other artists do. During “Harvester”, those thoughts dissolved quickly and he was all in after that and enjoyed the rest of the night immensely.
We were also treated to “The Unforgiven”, “Now That We’re Dead”, “Creeping Death” AND “For Whom The Bell Tolls (Which were absolute perfection), and “Halo On Fire!”
There was also an impromptu moment with guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Saturday was the birthday of a rock icon in Robin Trower. With Robert handling vocals, the pair played a Trower tune and wished Robin a Happy Birthday. Fitting since Louisville is the birthplace of the ladies that actually wrote the song, “Happy Birthday To You.”
Above, I mentioned the tragic loss of Cliff Burton. Cliff recorded the first three albums with Metallica but in ‘Kill ‘Em All’, Cliff contributed his most memorable piece of music. His iconic bass solo, “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth).” As you can certainly imagine, the song can be pretty painful for Metallica, so it is a song that doesn’t get played too often. Luckily for us, Robert Trujillo is a beast on the bass and he blew our minds on Saturday night with his performance. That moment brought me back to where it all began and for the rest of the night, I just let go and enjoyed it like I was 11 years old again. Sadly, my body wasn’t prepared for that and it’s still hating me. Lol
The biggest surprise on the night was the inclusion of “Motorbreath”, but the highlight of the night is actually eight highlights.
“GIMME FUEL GIMME FIRE GIMME THAT WHICH I DESIRE!” With those words, the pyro shot to the ceiling and Metallica put the pedal down to quickly kick our collective a$$es and they didn’t let up at all until we were treated to “Nothing Else Matters” in the encore! Holy crap was Louisville loud!! The energy in that building the last, say 45 minutes, was palpable. It was absolutely electric!!
The stage set was very interesting as the small four-sided video boards would raise and lower throughout the songs, but it was during “Moth Into Flame” that I was absolutely floored by something that I have never seen at a concert. Tiny drones equipped with white LED lights flew in unison and their lighting was synchronized as well. The LEDs buzzed about like white light lightning bugs. Video screens are impressive, but seeing something move about in real 3-D was a new experience and I hope to see even more technology introduced at concerts. It simply helps make it a fully immersive experience.
I know I’ve written a small book here, so I’ll try to cut some of these last songs down a bit. “Sad But True” was certainly one of the biggest sing-a-long’s on the night as Louisville was feeling their beer and enjoying the show immensely.
Obviously when the video boards began playing the movie used on the music video for “One”, 23,084 people looked at each other, smiled knowingly what was about to go down and then sang their hearts out. “One” has some really sad subject matter, but it sure was beautiful on Saturday night!
I usually keep my composure at shows, I’ve seen many, many bands and as a journalist, I am always in people watching mode. That is until Metallica broke into “Master of Puppets.” I can not tell you how long it has been since I witnessed something as epic as FINALLY witnessing THE song that hooked me forever. The raw energy, the sweat, the momentum, the lights, the sound effects, the crowd, the noise, the love, the connections of so many people enjoying the same moment will be etched in my memory forever!
After a short break, the speakers began blaring the intro music to “Battery”, then when the intro ended, the band came in before walking back onstage and every single hair I still have stood on its end. I was transported to my childhood room on the day that I unleashed Metallica upon my ears. I’ve never done an illegal drug in my life, but if they ever make one as powerful or euphoric as music, I’ll be a junkie, quickly! Music is definitely my drug of choice.
With those six blistering performances, the band needed a break, hell I needed a break. Lol Metallica gave us the slowest song they have in “Nothing Else Matters.” I didn’t let em fool me into a soft lull though, because I knew they were about to drop the hammer on us.
As they say, parting ways is such a sweet sorrow, so what better way to send us all home than ending their set with their most successful song in “Enter Sandman?” If you said there is no better way, you’d 100% correct.
Those last 45 minutes or so are memories that I’ll cherish till the day I die. What an incredible experience.
Aaaaaand, as if you needed another reason to love these guys, Metallica’s charity, All Within My Hands Foundation, raised $10,000 which they donated to the Dare To Care Food Bank.