The thrash-metal pioneers made longtime fans happy with a set that included many of their older songs.
A massive crowd of black-clad heavy-metal fans filled CenturyLink Field Wednesday to witness Metallica, one of the world’s loudest and heaviest bands, put on a bombastic two-hour show that relied heavily on the band’s well-known material.
It was the Bay Area band’s first Seattle performance in nearly a decade and they did not disappoint. Performing in front of giant video screens on a massive stage that stretched from sideline to sideline, the band opened with “Hardwired” and “Atlas, Rise!,” which elicited a massive roar from the near-capacity crowd.
“It’s different out there in the world,” vocalist and guitarist James Hetfeld said. “We don’t care who you voted for, what color you are or what sex you choose to call yourself. You are all Metallica family, you are all welcome here.”
It was an inclusive moment, and the crowd responded appreciatively.
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As bassist Robert Trujillo played the opening notes to “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” drummer Lars Ulrich pounded away as flames from the stage shot high into the sky. It was the first of many fan favorites the band performed along with “Unforgiven,” which got the largest applause of the night.
Guitarist Kirk Hammett ripped through several extended solos, proving that the virtuoso is the most technically skilled member of the band, but it might have been Trujillo’s tribute to late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton that stole the show. Video screens showed footage of Burton performing the song “(Anesthesia) — Pulling Teeth” from the band’s early days as Trujillo flawlessly executed the incredibly intricate song.
For “Moth into Flame,” Hetfield teased the audience.
“Lady Gaga isn’t here, but we will do a song related to her,” Hetfield said, referencing the band’s performance with Gaga at this year’s Grammy Awards.
While the newer songs fared well, fans turned out to hear classic-era Metallica and for more than two hours the band gave them their money’s worth. They finished out the set with blistering fast versions of “Whiplash” and “Seek and Destroy” from the band’s 1983 debut “Kill ’Em All.” For the encore, the band played a melodic and ferocious “Battery,” followed by “Nothing Else Matters” before closing the show with “Enter Sandman.”
In nearly three decades as a band Metallica has had just one Top 10 hit, “Until It Sleeps,” from 1996’s “Load,” but they’ve had a string of six No. 1 albums, starting with 1991’s self-titled release and stretching to 2016’s “Hardwired … to Self-Destruct.” That’s an impressive streak and exactly why Metallica is one of few bands that can still manage to fill arenas.