Metallica 40th Anniversery Concert review

Metallica Celebrates 40 years with Two Epic Concerts

Congratulations to Metallica and the band’s 40 years of making heavy metal music.

The pioneers of monster rock celebrated their milestone over the weekend with 40 Years of Metallica a two concert event, one Friday (Dec. 17) and the second night on Sunday (Dec. 19), at the Chase Center in their hometown of San Francisco, CA.

Metallica retains a core membership with singer James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich who started things off in 1981 before bringing on guitarist Kirk Hammett in 1983 for their debut album Kill ‘Em All. Robert Trujillo joined on bass in 2003, replacing Jason Newsted. Cliff Burton, the band’s original guitarist was killed in a 1986 bus accident during the Damage, Inc. tour in Sweden. Guitarist Dave Mustaine, now of Megadeth, was a member in 1982 for a year. A fun backstory you can find somewhere, if interested.

Those not lucky to score tickets for the two shows were able to watch from the comfort of their own home as the band broadcast both shows live (9 p.m. PST) and free worldwide. A very cool and so Metallica thank you to fans.

40 Years of Metallica Concert

Metallica 40th Anniversary Concert Review

Metallica 40th Anniversary Show 1 (Friday)

It didn’t take long for viewers or those in attendance to figure out what the band had up their sleeve as Metallica began the show with “Hit the Lights” off Kill ‘Em All and worked their way to the present grabbing at least one song off each of the 10 ensuing studio albums as well as S&M and Garage Inc. – their smash 1991 The Black Album, getting just two plays the first night (“Sad But True” and “Nothing Else Matters”) – before ending the evening with a spirited “The Day That Never Comes” off 2008’s Death Magnetic (which seriously needs a remaster despite what Ulrich says) and “Spit Out the Bone” off the band’s latest Hardwired…to Self-Destruct from 2016 (wow, already!?).

Early followers of Metallica no doubt enjoyed the first hour of Night 1 with the 1980s thrash metal years on display loud and proud. A bit of a slow down did occur once Metallica ventured into those unfairly maligned late 90s and early 2000 albums with “Frantic” off St. Anger, but in a first, Metallica played “Fixxxer” live from Reload a most welcome and surprise addition to the setlist and one that should get naysayers of the band’s later years to give those albums another listen.

Metallica also played “One” and “The Shortest Straw” off …And Justice for All but not “Enter Sandman” or “Master of Puppets.” The 16-song setlist stretched two hours and was interspersed with interviews and photos. No encore either but the band spent nearly the length of a traditional encore thanking and acknowledging the fans.

Metallica 40th Anniversary Show 2 (Sunday)

Just prior to the start, a fire alarm went off in the arena along with an announcement, then the live feed was cut off. Uh oh. It was short-lived, thankfully, and as expected, Metallica began Sunday’s show with the present in another two-hour, 16-song set opening with “Hardwired” off Hardwired…to Self-Destruct working back in time grabbing at least one song off each album until they came full circle closing the evening with two off Kill ‘Em All, the first hour or so this time heavy with cuts off later albums.

And Metallica didn’t hold back.

Two each off Reload and Load made the setlist including, respectively, “Fuel” and “Bleeding Me” a song Hetfield said was therapeutic for him. Another deep album cut in “Dirty Window” off St. Anger and after a short video with the band members discussing the covers recorded and performed over the years along with their personal favorites, Metallica ripped through the full length version of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil” which they had not done since their 30th anniversary with the original artists on stage, sounding little different than what you play at home.

Once “Wasting My Hate” concluded you knew what was coming though. “The Unforgiven” and the always spectacular “Enter Sandman” which Metallica usually reserves as the finale to their concerts. Whereas, Night 1 featured two tracks off Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and And Justice for All, Night 2 showcased one each, “Master of Puppets” the standout.

Certainly, the middle years may not resonate with everyone but those songs sure do come alive in front of an audience and demand a second take from many who likely heard them for the first time on Sunday.

Two nights, 32 different songs and four hours of Metallica. Just when you think the heavy metal giants cannot find a way to raise the bar, again, somehow, someway when it comes to delivering an authentic representation of who they are and what they want to accomplish, they break new ground. You know, they did play in Antarctica becoming the first band to play on all seven continents.

Metallica has been through a lot in their 40 year career and in some ways should feel lucky to be together. The death of a key member often dissolves a band so does substance abuse. If you have never seen the documentary Some Kind of Monster do so. It provides a very different perspective to the band and one that should only raise your level of respect and admiration. Now in their late 50s, the original core of Hetfield, Ulrich, and Hammett have grown exponentially not only as as musicians, but also as individuals.

That alone deserves a congratulations.

Hetfield often refers to fans as “family” something he did often on both nights, and a word I don’t think he uses loosely. He means it. Hetfield also said on both nights they were “created to do this.” He’s right. And without his “family” they wouldn’t be able to do what they were created to do.

The livestream was very effective, especially if you have a big TV and appropriate sound system, and though a similarly-themed large-scale Metallica 40th Anniversary tour (in arenas not stadiums) would be most appreciative, Metallica figured out the best way to include their entire family.

Congratulations Metallica. Here’s to another 40 years. Well, at least 10 more.

Metallica 40th Anniversary Setlist (Night 1):

1. Hit the Lights
2. Creeping Death
3. Trapped Under Ice
4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
5. Orion
6. The Shortest Straw
7. One
8. Sad But True
9. Nothing Else Matters
10. King Nothing
11. Fixxxer
12. Breadfan
13. No Leaf Clover
14. Frantic
15. The Day That Never Comes
16. Spit Out the Bone

Metallica 40th Anniversary Setlist (Night 2):

1. Hardwired
2. The End Of The Line
3, Dirty Window
4. I Disappear
5. Am I Evil?
6. The Memory Remains
7. Fuel
8. Bleeding Me
9. Wasting My Hate
10. The Unforgiven
11. Enter Sandman
12. Harvester of Sorrow
13. Master Of Puppets
14. Fade To Black
15. Whiplash
16. Seek & Destroy

12 thoughts on “Metallica Celebrates 40 years with Two Epic Concerts

  1. Nice to see they went out of the box on the same ol same ol as far as set lists go. Wasting My Hate is a killer track. Good pick whoever decided that!

  2. I’m glad the band played “Wasting My Hate” because it’s one of my favorites from ‘Load.’ I still wish Jason Newsted was with the band, but I’m glad Metallica is doing well and 40 years is impressive!

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