If you’d have told a teenage Lars Ulrich at the time he was sleeping on Brian Tatler’s couch, some forty or so years ago, that he’d not only be in a band, but that band, Metallica, would be one of the biggest in the world he would have probably not believed you.
Metallica – 72 Seasons – Live in Cinemas
The Light, Cambridge
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Stretching credibility even further for the young Dane, the thought that over two nights, his face would be appearing in countless cinemas across the globe would have been a thing of absolute fancy. Here we are, though, in August 2023, and Metallica are live streaming the two shows to an audience of millions, a rock family connected across every corner of the world.
With everything the thrash giants do, the ambition is huge and execution monstrous as the sheer scale of technology needed to take an army the size of a medium-sized town to pull off. When you have to match this with one of the most ambitious rock tours ever undertaken, the band playing two nights in each city with two separate set lists so nothing is ever repeated, it’s something that only the bravest would attempt.
Metallica, though, are not afraid of a challenge, and this combination of balls and vision is a key factor to their dominance over the Heavy Metal scene, the brand strong enough to weather all storms.
With the first show streamed on Saturday night, Monday brought the second helping, the already played staggering set list of huge hitters leaving out a few choice morsels. Given that debut, Kill ‘Em All came out forty years ago, and they’ve released ten albums since there’s plenty of material to choose from.
With a blend of fan favourites, deeper cuts and a good sprinkling of numbers from this year’s 72 Seasons, this was a cherry-picked, career-spanning celebration of the San Francisco bruisers.
After a half hour build-up, including multiple shots of a deliriously ready-to-go audience, the familiar strains of AC/DC’s It’s A Long Way To The Top poured from the speakers, the lights in the AT&T Stadium go out, and the blistering riff of Whiplash causes old-school mayhem as multiple thousands there and around the world absolutely lose it.
As then, the adrenaline-soaked rush is almost overwhelming, but this time, we’re up close and personal like never before, the cameras swooping from the highest point right into the sweating and heaving throng of the snakepit.
For anyone doubting the power to convey the rawness of a Metallica show to the relative comfort of your local silver screen, this was a revelation. The audience at the cinema was as involved as those there on the other side of the Atlantic, and this was surely the case as metalheads everywhere from Stockholm to Sydney headbanged and sang along.
The swaggering For Whom The Bell Tolls sees Robert Trujillo doing his crab-like hop along the stage as Kirk Hammett tears an eviscerating solo out of his guitar, its quote “It comes to life” from Boris Karloff’s The Mummy never truer.
Meanwhile, barking out the lyrics, James Hetfield exudes menace, the fire in his belly burning as bright as ever, be it on new songs like If Darkness Had A Son and the title track from 72 Seasons to classics like Fade To Black and Wherever I May Roam, the thunderous drums of Ulrich driving it all along. It’s a breathless display and utterly in-your-face.
The two-hour set time flies by as Hardwired’s modern anthem, Moth Into Flame, gives way to the pugilistic Battery, the roar of the audience enough to loosen fillings before a short jam between Hammett and Trujillo morphs into a celebratory Whisky In The Jar, the cover of Thin Lizzy take of the traditional song the perfect sing-along.
Again, the lights dimmed as the unmistakable explosions and lights heralded the foreboding, drama-filled and widescreen heft of One, the already heightened atmosphere pushed to breaking point.
There was only one thing left in their armoury that could top such momentous highs, and the opening riff of Enter Sandman was like the end of the world as any last vestiges of reserve were immediately disposed of. Brutal and venomous, this was Metallica at their most visceral yet accessible, and it was an apocalyptic close to a retina-burning and ear-shattering night.
They might be colossus straddling the world, but with every movement, every bead of sweat, and every note played being picked up by the cameras, the very humanity and soul of the band is there for all to see.
The quartet seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the night, an emotional Hetfield looking almost stunned by what they had experienced. His granite hard exterior cracked as the warmth and gratitude flooded out of him.
Arguably, more than any stadium-filling band on the planet, Metallica connects with the fans in their ‘Tallica Family on a deeper and more genuine level, these two livestream opportunities tailor-made to both thrill and bond.
Jubilant and brilliantly executed to stunning effect, never has cinema been so loud.