PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It had been an uncertain day for Metallica as their WorldWired Tour made its second stop in Philadelphia on Friday night.
As the threat of rain loomed over Lincoln Financial Field, it was actually a birth that shook up the schedule for the evening.
Earlier in the day, openers Avenged Sevenfold took themselves out of the lineup as Guitarist Synyster Gates flew home to be with his wife as she unexpectedly went into labor. However, even with the “Bat Country” singers benched, nothing could slow down the mighty Metallica.
An extra dose of Mix Master Mike and a later start for Danish openers Volbeat were the solution as fans streamed into the stadium.
“Let’s fight for heavy metal music and rock n’ roll tonight,” challenged Volbeat singer Michael Poulsen as the field began to fill. From a boxing ring roped stage, the powerful voice of Poulsen bounced around The Linc, with many still in line for custom merch or basic beers.
Everyone though seemed settled into seats two hours later as the first notes of “Ecstasy Of Gold” rang out. Erupting with anticipation, the longtime Metallica intro soon gave way to the flicker of red and white along the stadium-high video screens that lined the back of the stage.
Bathed in red, Metallica emerged with the urgent “Hardwired.” Shot out of the barrel and stalking the stage, their images towered over them. At times they would get lost in its sheer size, stretching from sideline to sideline with a catwalk out into the crowd. Giant hot air balloons adorned with the melted face imagery of their Hardwired…To Self-Destruct album floated above as they continued through their latest with “Atlas, Rise!”
While Metallica at times seemed small as people amidst the colossal creations around them, they never sounded small. Despite some slapdash stutters through the first new songs, the crowd still chanted along. By the time they reached back to Ride The Lightning’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” for the third song in the set they were at full-strength and booming.
“We don’t give a ****, what you’ve done in your life” James Hetfield challenged the primed people of Philadelphia. “You are here tonight as a Metallica fan.”
And they were – both new and old, all Metallica fans. Wearing 20-year-old T-shirts like trophies, arguing over who has seen them most while in lines snaked around the stadium to buy exclusive gear.
There was something to serve all sorts of Metallica fans this evening. Five of the new Hardwired tunes were met with excitement. “For this next song, make sure this microphone is working” joked Hetfield before “Moth Into Flame,” the song which was performed during their Lady Gaga assisted Grammys mishap.
However, they were no match for the five from their gazillion-selling self-titled album. “Do you want heavy?” he asked before dropping a muscular “Sad But True” on the audience.
Between Black Album favorites and Hardwired newbies, sat some serious thrash. Chants of “die” were deafening during “Creeping Death,” and they even dusted off “Motorbreath” to the delight of the die-hards.
“This is kind of a reproduction of our garage,” explained Hetfield as they all gathered at the end of the catwalk, drum kit and all for “Seek And Destroy” to close their main set. It was an effort for intimacy. As intimate as you can get playing break-neck metal among 60,000 seats.
“Did you have fun tonight?” questioned Hetfield knowingly before sending everyone off to never never land in the “Enter Sandman” finale.
There’s a different energy to Metallica these days, back in Philadelphia for their first time since 2009. Despite the adrenaline and power, the mood around the band has shifted from danger to delight. You see it in how much fun they appear to be having. It’s an earned emotion after thirty-five well-documented years.
“Metallica loves you Philly,” he closed as the fireworks popped and the stadium screamed. The band gathered thankfully and took an actual bow, taking their time throwing out picks and soaking in the victory lap.
The WorldWired Tour continues Sunday night with a stop at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.