There was no onstage mention of the Napster controversy that’s lately swirled around Metallica as the group offered a solid, nearly two-hour survey of their impressive multiplatinum career as the foursome top-billed a seven-hour-plus metal extravaganza Saturday at the sold-out Coliseum.
Once the veteran Bay Area headbangers hit the stage (to the foreboding strains of “Creeping Death”), it was only about the intense music — that’s the band’s long established custom. Such distractions as threatened lawsuits against some fans over computer files, and the recent Senate hearings on the subject, were all but forgotten by the moshers and punters.
Metallica’s 17-song production touched on all phases of its Elektra catalog, from such early-period faves as “Seek and Destroy” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” –songs that in the early ’80s set the standard for speed and thrash metal — through 1991’s “Sad But True” and encore entry “Nothing Else Matters” (both from the band’s 7 million-selling self-named album) and up to less impressive recent tracks like the bland “I Disappear,” from the “Mission: Impossible 2” soundtrack.
“I gotta go lay down,” groaned singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield after five songs, alluding to his recent back injury that forced him to cancel some East Coast shows. He left frontman duties temporarily to bassist Jason Newsted, who led the rowdy throng through its paces during a furious version of 1983’s “Whiplash.”
The band’s five-song encore, around 11 p.m., also included the war horror story “One,” complete with lots of loud explosions and other crowd-approved pyrotechnics, as well as a mellow take on Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” and closer “Enter Sandman,” an appropriate musical capper for the long and draining day.
Listed second on the program was Bakersfield’s sludge-metal merchant Korn, whose mediocre hourlong entry reflected the group’s severe scarcity of dynamic variety from song to song.
Such well-received entries as “A.D.I.D.A.S.,” “Freak on a Leash” and “Falling Away From Me” tended to blend too easily one into the next, with little (beyond the nightmarish lyrics) to separate them. An over-the-top take on older tune “Blind” and a fun cover of Slayer’s evil “South of Heaven” were the exceptions.
Detroit braggart Kid Rock, brought out into the afternoon sun by porn star Ron Jeremy, delivered his usual hip-rock mix of weak originals and overplayed cover tunes by AC/DC and Joe Walsh. Two strippers in cages and the “vertically challenged” rapper Joe C. brought their unique talents to the sordid affair. Young bands Powerman 5000 and System of a Down warmed the assembling crowd starting just after 4 p.m.