By CHLOË LAI
Those who dream of music that brings people together in difficult times probably don’t have heavy metal in mind, but Metallica may be the band to change that. When frontman James Hetfield opens the second-last show of the Worldwired Tour at BC Place, he starts by welcoming fans from all backgrounds.
“We don’t give a sh*t who you voted for, where you’re from, who you want to marry . . . we don’t care about differences. We care about similarities,” he says. “We just want to celebrate life and live music. Are you with us?”
Approval thunders through the packed stadium.
And thus begins a gloriously deafening, sensory-overloading spectacle packed with pyrotechnics and multimedia artistry. Scorching columns of flame burst from either side of the stage. Fire races back and forth across the stage for “Moth into Flame.” Crackling fireworks punctuate several songs, stopping just short of the stadium’s roof. The video for “Halo on Fire,” featuring a female fight-club combatant, is so compelling that it almost upstages the song itself. During “One,” the crowd is thrown into a simulated war zone complete with laser machine-gun fire, helicopter sound effects and WWI footage of troops marching to their fates. When it’s time for “Master of Puppets,” giant hands appear on the screen that towers above Lars Ulrich, turning the drummer into a real-life marionette. The entire crowd, from the mosh pit to the topmost bleachers, chants along so exuberantly that Hetfield lets them take over most of the vocals.
It’s not just the fans who are having the time of their lives; the band members seem genuinely enthusiastic, especially when they circle up to beat massive Japanese taiko drums for “Now That We’re Dead.” And when guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo go toe-to-toe in a riff-off for “I Disappear,” they’re practically gleaming with sweaty satisfaction.
Moments later, nostalgia crops up during Trujillo’s “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)” bass solo. As his fingers dance across the strings, vintage footage of original Metallica bassist Cliff Burton—who was killed in a tour bus accident in 1986—plays in slow motion across the massive screens.
Hetfield asks the audience whether they’re first-timers or lifers. A show of hands reveals that it’s an even split, a testament to Metallica’s staying power. And when the band wraps up their encore with an explosive rendition of “Enter Sandman,” it becomes impossible to tell the difference between the two groups. We are all, as Hetfield says, part of the Metallica family now.
Find Metallica’s new album, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, on the band’s website.