There’s no doubting that plenty of the approximately 2,000 people who paid 200 bucks to see Metallica play a benefit concert at L.A.’s Wiltern Theatre last night took pride in the fact that their money was going to support a good cause — namely, the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a nonprofit music-education center founded in part by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
But judging by the line that stretched down Wilshire Boulevard more than two hours before showtime, you can also be sure that this crowd included hundreds of folks who’d just as happily have burned the cash if it earned them the chance to see Metallica rock a room one-tenth the size of the venues they normally play.
The band certainly didn’t adjust their volume for the more intimate environs, bulldozing through “Sad But True” and “Disposable Heroes” like dinosaurs on a warpath. “Did that scare you?” James Hetfield asked following the latter. “We’re really nice guys.”
Metallica’s 110-minute set spanned the band’s 25-year career: They played “Seek & Destroy,” from Kill ‘Em All; “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” from Ride the Lightning; “Battery” and “Master of Puppets” from Master of Puppets; “One,” from …And Justice for All; and their monster hit from “The Black Album,” “Enter Sandman.”
Flea joined the band for his favorite Metallica tune, “Fight Fire with Fire,” a choice that Hetfield said surprised him given the song’s breakneck pace. Another surprise: Metallica’s giddy cover of the Misfits’ “Last Caress.” Throughout the show, Hetfield and his bandmates seemed beyond stoked to be onstage again for the first time in a year. “Metallica loves you,” the frontman announced at the end. “Long live heavy music, baby.”
Scars on Broadway, featuring Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan of System of a Down, opened the concert with a furious 30-minute alt-metal attack that made it clear how little System’s hiatus has dulled each man’s hyperactive creativity. But even Malakian acknowledged that the night belonged to the headliners: “I fucking like drugs,” he announced at one point. “And I fucking like Metallica, too.”
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