Metallica / Photo by Fally Afani

If you’ve ever met me (or have seen my profile picture on this very site) you could probably tell I’m not much of a metal guy. That’s not to say I don’t respect the genre; I’m just far from an expert. But I also don’t live under a rock and can tell you who Metallica is/what they did to change the genre. So when I was approached to review their first show in Kansas City in over ten years (on what has become a staggering, two and a half year tour to support their 2016 release Hardwired… To Self-Destruct), I couldn’t resist. After all, this isn’t just a show; it’s an experience. Almost forty years of thrashing and the band still leaves thousands of fans screaming in unison in packed arenas. On Monday they set an arena attendance record for their show in Wichita (and as of typing this, my editor informs me the Sprint Center has announced they set an attendance record here in Kansas City of 19,646!) and with a glimpse at that setlist, it appeared that fans new and old would be hearing their favorite tracks along with the new material.

Metallica / Photo by Fally Afani

Comedian and Saturday Night Live alumn Jim Breuer opened the night; hyping the crowd and playfully ribbing the Sprint Center attendees, at one point searching for the oldest and youngest fan in attendance (73 years-old and 8 years-old, if I remember correctly). The crowd played along, but once the lights went down it was all business. Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold” (a longtime intro track for the band) played with clips of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly flashing above the stage (which was set-up to be “in-the-round”) and the arena erupted as the band jogged their way in. These monitors above the stage turned out to be “video cubes,” displaying images throughout the night as they floated high and low, creating staggering inclines and drifting around the band. They began as closed circuit televisions, creating faux-grainy footage as Metallica ripped into “Hardwired.” But their display varied throughout the night from song to song: old ticket stubs displaying their show at Kemper Arena on 4/1/86; a scrolling cityscape during “The Unforgiven”; people trapped in glass cages (“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”); and neon flashing signs for gambling and other nefarious activities (“Moth Into Flame”). Speaking of that last track; miniature drones flew around the band in formations, rotating in perfect synchronization. As they descended in pairs into one side of the stage, they reappeared flawlessly on the other. That is, until guitarist Kirk Hammett knocked the shit out of one with his guitar, launching it into the crowd, causing a smattering of applause from those closest to him. James Hetfield had eight microphones set strategically on the stage, allowing him to pinball around and see every “maniac” screaming the lyrics back at him. The loudest call-and-responses were definitely during “Seek & Destroy,” “Master of Puppets,” and “Enter Sandman.”

Metallica / Photo by Fally Afani

There were flames shooting from the floor, fireworks surrounding the drums, and even a Pink Floyd cover in honor of David Gilmour’s birthday. An extremely loud, excited crowd that took none of it for granted. And Metallica seemed to feel the same way; thanking Kansas City throughout the night for not only supporting them, but supporting live music. Hetfield took a “victory lap” around the stage even after the last notes of “Enter Sandman” had stopped ringing for awhile; throwing the remaining custom guitar picks to the fans on the floor and dispensing a humble graciousness. The place was electrified. The sheer amount of volume to fill that place was a feat as impressive as the amount of people there. It’s history, after all.

 

Setlist:

(The Ecstasy of Gold by Ennio Morricone)

>Hardwired

>Atlas, Rise!

>Seek & Destroy

>The Shortest Straw

>The Unforgiven

>Now That We’re Dead

>Creeping Death

>For Whom the Bell Tolls

>Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

>The Four Horsemen

>Fuel

>Moth Into Flame

>Sad but True

>One

>Master of Puppets

Encore:

>Spit Out the Bone

>Nothing Else Matters

>Enter Sandman

Words by Nathan Cardiff, photos by Fally Afani

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