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I think the only place to start with this review is to talk about emotions. I'm not a big one to discuss emotional subjects, it's far more British and the done thing to keep a stiff upper lip old boy and let those pesky emotions stay in their box. However this occasion (and it was without doubt an "occasion") brought about a roller coaster of emotions, from the very beginning when the concert was first announced, around February time. My immediate feeling was one of joy and a simple clear mind-
Or so it seemed. Metallica have always appeared to me a classy organisation, both the 4 members of the band and also importantly that huge support network of managers, producers, engineers, fan club runners, and doers etc. Whoever made the call to add a second "fan club special" gig hot on the heels of the first one selling out will go down in history as a genuine hero to this Metallica gig-
We had tickets. I was overjoyed. This was quickly tempered and stunted by my reality of a trip from New Zealand to anywhere outside of the good shire not being on the radar this year. Some NATO style negotiations were pursued with my better half. She is a great woman and agreed to the trip (with some cunning clauses inserted by her -
Even on arriving it didn't feel real that this was actually happening. 20 years ago this event was pitched as a unique once in a lifetime occurrence (although there were a couple of hastily added shows in Germany around that time also) and here we were days away from history repeating itself. Growing up Mr Cheer Yourself Deaf and I were sad boys. Make no mistake, highlights for us included weekly trips to the unrepeatable Jammin' With Edward for our fix of crap heavy metal and crapper put downs from said store owner. Well, I received the put downs and Mr Cheer Yourself Deaf just laughed along revelling in me being ripped the piss out of. Other highlights included taking Charlton to European glory in Championship Manager circa 1995 and the production of the limited edition "Metal" magazine -
Mr Cheer Yourself Deaf and I are men of culture and we immediately took in the sights, sounds and smells of the Bay Area. The night before the first gig saw us trace historic Metalli-
Friday was the day of the first gig. The one we didn't have tickets for. Despair. Well, not quite. Clearly we'd have loved to have gotten in. We tried as hard as we could but it became apparent this was likely to be a forlorn task. And so it proved. The gig happened and we didn't get in. Still, we knew we'd be there on Sunday and we literally couldn't do anymore. What we both vowed was that we would not subject ourselves to any spoilers before seeing the spectacle ourselves on the Sunday. I removed myself from social media for 48 hours and when we encountered any fans we swiftly admonished "no spoilers you shits!!". Ok. not quite that harsh but you get the idea.
Sunday arrived, the day of the gig. The day again adopted a somewhat surreal quality as we breezed through it with one thing on our mind -
The brand new Chase Center is a wonderful arena, however I'd suggest it has a couple of teething and wording issues. "Wording" issues you ask? Who in their right minds names sections "portals"? Americans, that's who. Now, Mr Cheer Yourself Deaf and I are not only men of culture but men of intelligence. But do you think we could find our portal? Of course not. This however wasn't due to our intelligence; it was due to the fact that our "portal" appeared to be the only one not listed on any signage whatsoever. We asked any number of staff to assist who all tried to point us in the right direction. Eventually we found our "portal", helpfully beyond and behind a clearly marked "exit" which on pushing through you weren't sure wouldn't take you straight out of the building. Thankfully we were in; pure elation again. Shit, now I was excited. I could see the stage and set-
The countdown was now fully on. We secured our seats and beverages in hand. In the lead-
And then it began. A Metallica gig always begins with the gorgeous The Ecstasy of Gold by Ennio Morricone. However this isn't just an ordinary Metallica gig and that point was firmly rammed home when you have a god-
Part one finished and I was ecstatic with what I had seen. This is the beauty of gigs with orchestras. The intermission. Lovely. Time to take in what we have just witnessed and prepare for part two. The only downside, part one flew by and we knew part two would too. We didn't quite foresee what was going to come next...
Lars bounded onstage alongside the preparing orchestra to thank all those fans who had travelled many, many miles (thanks Lars) but also those locals who had welcomed us out of towners with such bonhomie. Lars was not only genuine and classy in doing this but also right. Every local we spoke to, regardless as to whether they liked the band, was kind, interested and proud of what was happening in their back yard. Lars is the man.
So onto part two of the gig. It began with the original conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas coming out and eulogising over the evening before leading the orchestra through its own piece. Now I mention the original conductor because he had a significant health scare early into the rehearsals and had to be complemented by a second conductor, Edwin Outwater. I think now's the time to comment on just how outstanding Edwin was. He was not only clearly "into the gig" but the merging of the songs this time round compared to S&M to these ears at least sounded even better.
Following this Metallica then took on a classical piece, The Iron Foundry. This sounded superb. Taking the music on from this mirror-
How do you follow that? Well, next the acoustic guitars entered the stage and you waited for the potential Nothing Else Matters, or if lucky perhaps Mama Said. Nope, All Within My Hands sprung forth. Acoustically. The song which trails out the St Anger album with the refrain "kill, kill, kill, kill, kill...". And here it was stood bare with an orchestra. I was lucky enough to attend The Bridge School Benefit shows in 2007 here in San Francisco where Metallica debuted All Within My Hands acoustically. Not in this world did I think it would be performed in this form, on this evening. It's a stunning reworking of an oft overlooked song from St Anger.
Ok, how do you follow this opening of act two?!?! Anesthesia -
By now, my boner has gone erect/ejaculated/flaccid and back round on countless occasions. Emotionally I was exhausted. What happens next you can be blasé with however it is just the biggest metal band of all time smashing through their biggest hits -
At the conclusion of the concert Mr Cheer Yourself Deaf and I just sat there for 10 minutes to soak up the post-
Metallica & San Fran Orch -
The Chase Center -
Part II: Concert Review by Steeve