Metallica was continuing to tour for their “Death Magnetic” album and while the last time around the band performed in New Jersey at the Izod Center for a couple of nights with the mighty Machinehead as support, tonight they would be in the historic Madison Square Garden and offer us the direct support power of Lamb Of God. Leading us off for the festivities would be Volbeat from Denmark and these guys are interesting in their own right. We must inform you that this evening would not be the “regular” kind of coverage that we do because while able to do the photography stuff that you enjoy so much, we were unable to secure a ticket and hence would not see the whole show. We wrote what we could just the same and the readers can absorb what we were able to report on and enjoy a wonderful batch of live concert shots by scrolling down.
Venue: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
Opener: Lamb Of God, Volbeat
Label: Warner Music Group
Tonight would be the second of two sold out shows for the mighty Metallica at New York City’s Madison Square Garden and that was amazing news for the Metal supporters of the region. This visit would essentially be the second or continuing leg of the tour that was being done in support of the “Death Magnetic” album; it was a release that found the group returning to a form that was both expected and respected by the fans. Welcome back Metallica, you have been missed. Starting off the night as first support would be Volbeat from Denmark and the one and only Lamb Of God. I arrived early enough to be able to photograph everyone but since I did not have a physical ticket for the show, the question remained would a comprehensive review be able to happen….only time would tell.
Volbeat: I caught Volbeat when they were opening up for Nightwish a little earlier this year and I really enjoyed what they were doing based on just how different it was from the usual stuff that is happening in the Metal world these days. Clearly these guys are making some powerful friends to find themselves on a bill with a band like Metallica when one considers all of the other bands that are dying for such a chance. Sadly the wheels of motion that often work in my favor still needed some oiling this evening and missed communication would find me missing the entire short set from these Denmark visitors. I’m sure they will be back sometime soon and I will be sure to report on them in full at that time.
Lamb Of God: You might not know this little fact, but Lamb Of God has NEVER played at Madison Square Garden before these two shows and that was incredible news to me. I had always believed that I had seen them in this space in the past but when I sat back to think about it realized that it was only at The Roseland a couple of times, then over at the PNC Bank Arts Center and when they toured with Slayer for the Unholy Alliance tour back in 2006. Tonight Lamb Of God was in effect celebrating a significant moment in their own history and would do so for the sake of their fans by not only presenting music from their most recently released CD “Wrath” but also by playing some stuff from “Sacrament” and that which came before it. The band hit the ground running and based on the layout of the stage had a lot of room to do so. Fronted by Randy Blythe, one who is not used to the band would have a hard time keeping track on where he was since he sure made use of his surroundings tonight. The stage was set up “in the round” for these shows and that meant dead center of the arena as opposed to being off to one side. Having the stage like this allowed a barricade to completely envelope the thing and thus allowed more fans in the general admission area to press up close against the gate and see the band up close. Microphones were positioned in sets of two at each of the squares sides (or rectangles if you want to be fussy). They would deliver two songs from “Wrath” as their start off and Randy addressed the crowd often telling them “that this is a Metal show, so don’t be afraid to get into it” and many complied with the singers battle orders. They sounded great and proved worthy of the honor of such a bill and I had to admit they looked like they were enjoying themselves greatly from my vantage point. “Walk With Me In Hell” came up next from “Sacrament”, and this is a favorite of mine with the dramatic lighting rigs and pulsing strobes bringing it to all the more powerful effect. The response to Willie’s lead guitar playing and Chris’ solid drumming seemed very loud and it was clear that MSG has not seen the last of Lamb Of God, even if we were only at song number three. “Now You Got Something To Die For” was up next and sadly would be where I made my exit back to the media waiting zone. The downside of only managing to be inside for the purpose of photography becoming all too apparently visible as the time went by. As I walked out from this crushing display that was only in mid-set I remembered a recent discussion that a Metal program had about who would be among the next “big arena Metal bands” after a number of the main ones that were still going had closed up shop and gone away. The hosts mentioned the Hard Core Metal of Hatebreed as a proper and most logical choice but I think that any Metal maniac worth their salt had to agree that the next wave of arena Metal dominance begins and continues with Lamb Of God (no offense to the fine job that Jamey does in Hatebreed of course). Nice work guys but I expected this from you.
Metallica: Since forming in 1981 the band Metallica has covered a lot of ground for themselves and the Metal genre as a whole. Their outstanding debut of “Kill ‘Em All” in 1983 set them on the path as underground heroes for the Metal way and eventually life would lead them to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame where they were inducted in April of 2009. This honor came six years after being awarded MTV’s “Icon” status in 2003. Not a bad run for a band even if some of the work they released tested the patience and level of acceptance in their fans for a number of years before they got back on track with the most recent album “Death Magnetic”. I had to admit that this album was a welcome thing for me, because in my eyes there were plenty of other bands I could listen to and choose from if Metallica no longer seemed willing to maintain the charge.
After their intro music blasted over the venue sound system the place went black as Metallica entered the stage and then a barrage of lasers gave everyone a visual treat as the band throttled us with the opening track from the new album “That Was Just Your Life”. It’s a great song on its own and works as an opening number very well. The band was very energetic and making sure that everyone in the arena got a good look at them by stopping at each section of the rectangle shaped stage for a few moments. I felt that they looked pretty good as well, and did not seem at all tired from the rigorous tour and for a final show they seemed intent on giving us their all this evening. Lars Ulrich’s drums were dead center on the stage and faced one direction. I almost expected them to rotate like we find the drums in a KISS show doing but they would not. My guess is that any up and coming drummers who saw him from the back were able to pick up a number of his tricks this evening and those who faced him, got to see all of the weird faces he would make during the show. There was really not all that much to the stage design in my opinion but above them was rather impressive as about six coffin shaped structures acted as the lighting rigs. They would move up and down and add a little more of a dramatic vibe to the show.
Hetfield spoke to the crowd and said how New York City better watch out because Metallica was in a good mood this evening and that meant a great show which I am sure fired up everyone a little more even though its safe to assume that no one was expecting a bad show from them. The second song would be another new one with “The End Of The Line” and there was some cool back and forth interaction observed between the guitarists Hammett and Hetfield with Mr. Trujillio on bass. I had to say that he impressed me very much and this was my first time seeing him in the role since he replaced Jason. The first “classic” came up with the third song of the night and this was “Creeping Death”. It is still an amazing tune and something that is meant for the live concert arena. The chants of “Die” were totally sparking a little fear in the security folks who I am sure were worried about a Heavy Metal uprising from this one. The band had begun “Shortest Straw” but it was time for me to make my exit as the photography action was done and with no ticket to remain in the arena I had to leave and miss the rest of the show. It’s a bummer but such is how this stuff works sometimes and it cannot always be avoided. I heard a few moments of “Fade TO Black” as I was doing the same towards the exit sign and I had to say that I found it amazing to see and hear the band from such a vantage point. Since I had seen the set list for the night, I knew that the crowd was in for some treats tonight. I will make sure to catch them next time without a doubt. Although the circumstances didn’t allow or permit for me to provide the full on report like I would have wanted to I did feel that what I was able to enjoy for the three tunes truly captured the spirit of the night and reaffirm my belief that Metallica is worthy of all of the status that had been placed on them. Let’s hope that the follow up to “Death Magnetic” is as strong and that they continue to lead the charge for the genre.
Before the show began I caught a fan that had not only been here the night before, but also still was holding on to the set list from that show. I was surprised at how safe he managed to keep it and it ran as follows: That Was Just Your Life, The End Of The Line, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Holier Than Thou, One, Broken, Beat And Scarred, Cyanide, Sad But True, Turn The Page, All Nightmare Long, A Day That Never Comes, Master Of Puppets, Fight Fire With Fire, Nothing Else Matters, Enter Sandman, Helpless, Whiplash, Seek and Destroy. Not a bad set list from the looks of it, and even though the Sunday crowd would not get “Whiplash” or “Turn The Page”, they would get the classic “Trapped Under Ice” and “Last Caress” which everyone loves. They seemed to keep all of the new material the same on each of the nights and its good that the new stuff worked out so well live. I didn’t notice anything from “St. Anger” on the list which I am sure got a sigh of relief from the audience when all was said and done.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not we shall see a “Big Four Tour” ever happening that brings us Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax on the same bill but I will not hold my breath about it since Metallica doesn’t seem to need this as much as some of the others do. Dollar signs of course always have a way to make things happen and at the time of this writing the news was announced about how a new tour called “American Carnage” will happen and bring us Megadeth, Slayer and Testament. I will take that for sure. I’ve also read that a live DVD was being done for this tour so watch out for that release in early 2010 I am guessing.
Full Lamb Of God Photo Gallery: http://piercingmetal.com/lamb-of-god-live-photos-madison-square-garden-11152009/
Full Metallica Photo Gallery: http://piercingmetal.com/metallica-live-photos-madison-square-garden-11152009/
Lamb Of God Set List:
1. In Your Words
2. Set To Fail
3. Walk With Me In Hell
4. Something To Die For
6. Dead Seeds
7. Laid To Rest
9. Black Label
Metallica Set List:
1. That Was Just Your Life
2. The End Of The Line
3. Creeping Death
4. Shortest Straw
5. Fade To Black
6. Broken, Beat and Scarred
7. My Apocalypse
8. Sad But True
10. Judas Kiss
11. A Day That Never Comes
12. Master Of Puppets
13. Dyer’s Eve
14. Nothing Else Matters
15. Enter Sandman
16. Last Caress
17. Trapped Under Ice
18. Seek & Destroy
Walking up Seventh Avenue over to the Garden main entrance, I caught sight of the marquee which was displaying the image you see below. As a Metal fan there is nothing like seeing in the brightest lights in the big city that a band that champions your favorite genre has sold out for their performance. It was particularly commendable when one realizes that this was the second of two nights in the Big Apple for Metallica.
My adventuring at The Garden this evening was going to prove a little tricky for me because while I was unable to secure a ticket to enjoy the full show I had managed to successfully procure my photography credentials and would be down in the photo pit area right in front of the stage while both Lamb Of God and Metallica performed…but this would only be for three songs. More on that later. While I waited outside the Press Entrance part of MSG I turned to my left and saw Randy Blythe from LoG taking a break and enjoying a cigarette in the slowly getting cooler night air. Quick intros were done and of course the necessary candid for better visualization of the narrative was snapped and we got to talking for a few minutes.
The singer mentioned how exciting it was to be playing Madison Square Garden for the first time in Lamb’s rather productive career, and while I swore I had seen them in the arena before I realized that I was thinking of the Continental Airlines Arena (now The Izod Centre) where they were direct support for Slayer a few years ago. That was a kick ass show in an of itself and was reviewed but not photographed on PiercingMetal.com HERE. Randy also mentioned how his Mom was in town for the pair of shows and was enjoying herself as well and how during sound check that the whole room sounded so big. I had to admit it was cool to get a few side minutes with him in this unplanned fashion but when his cigarette was done he said that he had to get inside and warm up. The band would hit the stage about 25 minutes after we spoke.
Another downside of the show for me was my missing the set from Volbeat in its entirety based on some miscommunication between the powers that be and those who make sure you are permitted to do your thing. Having enjoyed the band when they opened up for Nightwish back in May of this year, I was sure that they kicked some serious ass for the fans of Metallica. I wondered if anyone had seen them and really hope that they did. Tickets are too expensive these days to be missing anyone who you paid to see. If you’re interested in learning more about the bands performance at that particular referenced evening and seeing plenty of photos which we posted from it just click HERE.
A visual taste of what was to come for the fans of Lamb Of God and any newbie who was as yet unaware of their impact on the genre and wisely got inside to check them out. This was a killer albeit short list from the band and seemed to cover a few albums from their most recent “Wrath” and that which came before it. I feel sorry for anyone who decided to miss these guys as they dominated the stage. Love ’em or hate ’em, LoG is a powerhouse of a Metal band without question and I think that it is safe to assume that many newbies learned that this evening.
Clearly this is a dude with his mind on the Metal and out to set you on the path that leads you to more of it. This was one of my favorite shots of the singer from the few minutes I was able to snap photos of them. Timewise I think that I was in the photo pit a good fifteen to twenty minutes which was great but as the melodies of “Something To Die For” began all of us photographers were ushered back out into the waiting area until it was time to repeat the process for Metallica. Oh well..such are the rules for the task at hand sometimes.
When it came time to return to the concert hall to photograph Metallica we went down the same path and it was funny how we walked out. I felt like one of the arriving professional wrestlers since it reminded me of that entrance. I saw some friends and saw tattoo guru Paul Booth and God Forbid’s Doc Coyle who was there with his brother Dallas and some of their friends. The stage was enormous and not set up in the usual fashion for you see the show tonight would be set up in the round, or in the square when you looked at it in its true geometric shape. That meant instead of the one side of the venue having the stage set up and the general admission floor open in front of it, that the stage was in the center of the arena and a barricade had been positioned all the way around. This might have been a good thing for the fans because it allowed for more of them to press themselves up against the barricade and see their favorite band up close and personal. I didn’t snare a full view of it with the camera which was an oversight but that was based on my attempting to absorb as much of the evening’s personality that I could in the short time that I had to do it. I was also a little bit in awe because it was also my very first time doing the photography thing in Madison Square Garden. Above is a photo that I snapped a shot of which was in the hands of one of the Metallica faithful. It was of the Saturday night set list and I was amazed that he managed to not only keep it safe and sound but in fine condition. They seemed to have dished out quite a solid set list which covered the new release in some depth and did a fair enough amount of classics. I was not yet sure if they would be repeating the same list tonight, but I doubt it knowing that Metallica is a band that likes to mix things up during a show.
Above the stage were about six of these massive “coffin” shaped structures which served as the lighting rigs. They would move up and down for added effect during the show and were rather imposing, especially if you were right under them. From afar the collection of them made the top of the bands set up look like a spacecraft. We are Metallica, and we come in peace……rather imposing when all those things were moving around.
I always give credit to the fans that brave the barricade because it is not always the safest or the sanest place to be and this gentleman pictured above is a fine example of the heroism that this kind of adventuring brings forth. Behold the power and might of Beach Ball Man. OK, so here is the origin story that I was told very quickly. Apparently later in the show Metallica launches out these black beach balls and this kid caught a couple of them and from the crude plastic materials, fashioned himself a crude plastic costume. It was hilarious and I am sure that if the band was able to see him that they got a kick out of it as well. Not too far to the chap’s left was a dude who could have been James Hetfield’s son based on his facial features and overall look but I didn’t have the time to snap a shot of him before the madness began. We hope that Beach Ball Man maintains the time honored tradition of the Super Hero and protects the weak, saves the damsel in distress and punishes the guilty without remorse. After some introduction music, Metallica was on the attack on the massive stage delivering the opening number from “Death Magnetic” with “That Was Just Your Life”. When they originally came out the stage was a blast of laser light and somewhat dizzying as the photo below will show you.
My apologies for not being able to secure a stable image of this but to define the moment as planned chaos would be an understatement. Remember that it was completely dark around me at this time and we were all tripping over one another while security did their protectorizing thing.
Tonight was the last night of the tour and after it was done all the gear would be loaded into crates such as this and then onto one of the many trucks that were parked outside. I counted about four of them, but didn’t snap a photo since I was running back and forth. To read more thoughts on this evening’s show or what I witnessed at least in the brief time that I was in there you can do so by clicking the band’s logo at the top of this article. We loaded a lot of photos for you to enjoy and whenever the band returns we really hope to be able to report on the whole concert and not just a brief section of it. I hated to leave of course but the means for me to remain where just not logistically possible to do so and while it was a bummer in some sense, I had a blast for every second that I was a part of the goings on. To me as a writer and photographer it was super cool to not only photograph Metallica as a great Metal band but also to be able to do so in a concert arena like Madison Square Garden. I have seen more shows here than I can easily count and really dug that.
The scuttlebutt is high about a “Big Four Tour” that features Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax coming together and while I think such a thing would be super cool, I also think that this will never happen since not every band needs the tour as much as some others do. Stranger things have happened when the dollar signs start getting thrown around of course so perhaps the naysayers and doubters will be proven wrong. On that note, at the time of this writing an announcement came that Megadeth, Slayer and Testament would be banding together under the banner of “American Carnage Tour”. That should be interesting.