Live Review: Metallica Live in San Antonio
Written by Mauricio Adan
METALLICA at the Alamodome. World Wired Tour. These words will live in the hearts of 50,000 San Antonio metal fans for all time. For those in attendance last Wednesday, June 14th, it was a night to remember, a day of infamy for of the Metal Capital of the World. There are only a hand full of musical acts that command the use of the entire Alamodome and you bet your ass Metallica is one of them. I’ve been to so many concerts that I couldn’t even begin to count them all. I’ve seen just about every major and minor live act I’ve ever wanted to see. But just this week, I witnessed Metallica live in concert for the first time. Over 24 hours later, I still can’t decide if it was the greatest show I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely in the running and only two or three others shows in my lifetime can compete with what I just saw. Seeing Metallica in concert at the Alamodome in front a 50,000 strong crowd was a spectacle I’ll never forget.
At approximately 9:00 p.m., the lights went down and a huge roar came up from the crowd as ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’ from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly began to play. My mind raced back to the countless times I’ve seen Live Shit: Binge & Purge over the years and a flood of uncontrollable memories hit me all at once. Then, Metallica walked out on stage and burst right into ‘Hardwired,’ the opener from 2016’s Hardwired… to Self Destruct. The crowd exploded. Metallica was here. That was followed up with ‘Atlas, Rise!’ It was pretty awesome to see so many singing along, full throttle, to these bran new songs. The love for the new album was evident.
After “Atlas” James Hetfield took some time to greet the crowd. He spoke a bit about how good it felt to be back in San Antonio, a city the band has long and ancient ties to. He said that Metallica doesn’t care who you are, Metallica doesn’t care what part of the world you come from, what color you are, or from what background may be. “Tonight, we are family. Tonight, the San Antonio Metallica family is here!” With that, he shouted out, “For Whom the Bell Tolls!” I must say, I thought I’d heard loud audiences before, but holy hell, did it get loud in the Dome for this one.
‘Fuel’ came next, the only appearance of anything from the Load/Reload era, and that got the crowd pretty pumped. Get it? Never mind. Next was “The Unforgiven”. The original. Scenes from the iconic video played on the huge screens behind the band. Then, they hit the new album again with ‘Now That We’re Dead.’ “If you wanna live forever, first you must die,” screamed Hetfield. Stage crew could be seen bringing four huge drums out on stage, then each one of the guys grabbed sticks and began pounding on them to a tribal beat, even Lars Ulrich came out from behind his kit to join in the ritual. When he jumped back on the kit, they kicked into ‘Moth Into Flame,’ the stage devoured by fire and pyrotechnics for a few minutes, followed by ‘Wherever I May Roam,’ which felt like every single head in the house sang along, word for word
Things got a little touchy after that. Kirk Hammet and Rob Trujillo came out front and played ‘I Disappear,’ from the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack, but just the two of them. The whole song. No drums, no vocals, just one guitar and one bass. When that was over, James announced that Mr. Trujillo was about to have some fun with us. Rob threw out a few cool licks and then…Those familiar bass notes we all know and love began to play. The crowd raised their hands and their voices as ‘Anesthesia,’ Cliff Burton’s infamous bass solo from Kill’em All filled the arena. Rob laid it down powerfully as videos of Cliff’s were projected on the 100 foot tall screens behind him. If anyone wasn’t touched and nearly moved to tears, they must have no heart at all. It was an emotional moment for long time fans. After that, James came back out and asked if we wanted to hear some more Kill’em All. Well, that’s a question that needs no answer, and so, what we got was ‘The Four Horsemen.’ A few minutes into that song, I found myself in sheer awe of Kirk Hammet’s insane guitar leads. I, like many, have had mixed feelings and gone through different stages in my relationship with ‘Tallica over the years since The Black Album, but one thing has never changed. My love for Kirk has never wavered and in this moment, I was reminded of exactly why. It was absolutely incredible.
James came out and chatted us up a little more and once again mentioned how Metallica and San Antone go way back. “One thing I think everyone knows about this town is that San Antonio likes it heavy. I mean San Antonio likes it really f***ing heavy!” I don’t have to tell you what kind of response he received. “Well, you want heavy? Metallica give you heavy! Sad But True!” The place got so damn loud, it was ear splitting! Again, the crowd sang every word. After SBT, the lights went down and the place went dark. Slowly, we began to hear the sounds of machine gun fire, helicopters and men shouting. We all knew what was coming. The sounds were matched by an awesome light and laser show that made it feel as if we had a front row seat to the war. The climax came when what sounded like a low flying jet swooped down and laid a line of fire all across the stage that looked like napalm had just been dropped on us. Then, ‘ONE’ began. The onstage screens displayed an army of seemingly lifeless soldiers’ silhouettes walking into no man’s land. By then end of the song, with Lars’ blaring double bass kicks and Kirk’s raging guitar solo going 100 miles an hour, the soldiers on the screen were topped with only skulls, instead of human heads, essentially, walking dead men. The vivid imagery was pretty striking and I don’t think the message could have been lost on anyone.
After a few moments, the first four notes of ‘Master of Puppets’ split the arena in two. Again, I’ve been to some big shows and have been in some pretty loud crowds, but at this minute, the absolute loudest “YEEAAHH” I’ve ever heard in my life nearly brought the building down! There was so much energy and excitement, I could never truly put it into words but it was a moment I’ll never forget. “Puppets” was followed by ‘Fade to Black’ and after that, a smaller drum kit rose up from the underneath the stage, way out on the cat walk which protruded deep into the audience. James said that they were going to revisit Kill’em All and the Garage Days again. “We’re gonna get really tight. This is the ‘Talli-mansion garage right here”. He asked if we knew what to say when said “SEEK!” We all yelled out as loud as we could, “And Destroy!” And with that, the guys laid the smack down on Metallica’s very first single from over three decades ago. James ended by thanking us all for 36 years.
Of course, they came back out for an encore but I never would have guessed what they were about to play. ’Fight Fire with Fire’ was a huge surprise and the stage was engulfed in flames, once again. As they played ‘Nothing Else Matters,’ it suddenly dawned on me that there was one huge song they hadn’t yet played. In the two hours since the show started, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. I broke out in a huge smile because I knew how were going to say goodbye. Metallica gave me and 50,000 of my friends one last chance to sing along to every last word of possibly the greatest heavy metal song ever. ‘Enter Sandman’ closed out the show and one final time, James Hetfield told us all, “Metallica loves San Antonio”.
It was an absolutely incredible and unforgettable night, one we’ll be talking about here in S.A. for years to come. Later, I can tell my stories of when I saw Metallica on the Hardwired Tour, just like I’ve heard the stories of classic San Antonio shows from old school cats over the years. Shows like Guns N’ Roses at La Semana Allegre, Saxon and Great White at the Sunken Garden, The very first Ozzfest with Type O Negative, Slayer, and Sepultura, the last time Metallica played the Alamodome about 20 years ago, and so many others. Well, this is my story of the time I saw Metallica at the Alamodome, 2017, World Wired Tour, and I, Like 50,000 others, will remember it for all time.