By Rock Titan Photojournalist Tom Collins
The sky was gray and heavy rain was predicted for late Friday night. But the thunder came early and the Philadelphia crowd was ready to ride the lightning with METALLICA!!! It had been some time since Metallica has played in Philly. It was January of 2009 right across from the Lincoln Financial Field at the Wells Fargo Center to be exact. This show was to be the second stop on the U.S. tour having just played in Baltimore in support of their new album, Hardwired to Self Destruct. No doubt there was a definitive electricity circulating through Philadelphia! It grew more and more powerful as the day Metallica fans had been waiting for finally arrived!
Many showed up at the venue early to get their choice spot on the field when the gates would open. Some fans had already learned earlier and many more shocked upon arrival to hear that special guest, Avenged SevenFold dropped off of the bill. It seemed like a practical joke that was hard to believe. AV7 guitarist, Synyster Gates learned his wife had gone into early labor so he quickly flew back home to be with her. True to the code of “Metal Heads”, they were disappointed but all shared the sacred sentiment of family comes first. Set times were slightly adjusted to compensate for losing a band. The crowd took it all in stride until Volbeat hit the stage. They are a great band indeed but perhaps because of the early, daytime slot, they lacked punch. The only punch they had was their stage setup was wrapped in red ropes to mimic a boxing ring. But there was not a lot of fight there. One of those disappointing 1 round Pay-Per-View feelings you get. Volbeat is a headline act in themselves and that’s were you want to see them put on a brutally amazing show!!!
Finally, it’s only minutes to Metallica! The stadium is now filled to capacity and roars like a lion as the lights go down, revealing video and music to their intro, The Ecstasy of Gold, into Hardwired intro!!! The massive stage that we starred at all day suddenly comes fully alive! Metallica is back! They blasted into two of their very popular new songs from Hardwired to Self Destruct. The Linc responds with every fan standing and cheering for their heroes! They are rewarded with a classic, For Whom The Bell Tolls!!! Through their set, massive flames erupted from the top and back of the stage! Another highlight and unique treat for the fans was during the song, Now That We’re Dead. All four horsemen gathered at the center of the stage and each stood before a huge drum. In perfect rhythm they drummed together in a primal beat. It was a spectacle the fans went wild over! The set rolled through one hit after another to, Sad But True which the band dedicated to Synyster Gates and their new arrival. Welcoming their child to the world and the AV7 and Metallica family. To say that the song that followed is “ONE” of the biggest fan favorites is an understatement worthy of being unwillingly thrown into the mosh pit!!! The stage and stadium fell completely dark as the sounds of War erupt through the speakers!!! Machine gun fire coordinated with lasers and explosions with pyro! Flames raced back and forth across the back of the stage as they also blasted high into the night sky as well! Suddenly it all STOPS. The instantly recognizable first notes of ONE thrust the crowd into near madness!!! Metallica didn’t come all the way to Philly to be merciless. No. They came to Seek & Destroy!!! Classics like Master of Puppets and Fade to Black were still on the menu! One thing that truly stood out to me through the night was Jaymz Hetfield. There was something missing??? I finally figured it out. His trademark “growl” face was few and far between. Instead, it was replaced with a genuine smile that he just couldn’t get off his face. I don’t think he even wanted too! Jaymz was having the time of his life and you could see the love on his face that he has for his fans. Especially his die-hard Philly fans!!!
Metallica likes to do their own thing, in their time, their way. They knew it had been too long though to be with their other family, the fans around the world! They ended the night with a encore that nobody could be disappointed in. Battery, Nothing Else Matters and the clincher of the night, Enter Sandman!!! Fireworks launched high over the stadium as the four members gathered in the center of the outer stage platform to take their well deserved bows. They looked older, as most of their early fans in the audience did, but it didn’t slow them from putting on one of the greatest shows Philadelphia has ever seen!!! Their music has crossed many generations as seen by the kids, parents and even grandparents leaving the stadium. Every face, completely satisfied with the show they just witnessed. For some it was their first experience seeing Metallica. For many others, just too many to count! One thing they did have all in common was that they hope it won’t be years again before Metallica brings another storm to Philadelphia!!!
* Avenged Sevenfold released a second statement regarding their absence at the Philadelphia show! They will be bringing their FULL stage and show to Philly next month as a make up to ticket holders! Details to be announced Monday!!!