Review – Metallica at GM Place, Vancouver, Dec 2 2008
– by Kate Reid
Planted onstage amidst rotating coffins and fiery pyrotechnics, James Hetfield tries to keep it real. He extends his tattooed arms out toward the crowd of burn-outs, blue-collars and agoraphobic basement-dwellers, and pronounces them all the fifth member of Metallica.
Selective memory can be helpful for the hardcore Metallica fan – for instance, itíd be nice to gloss over that whole Napster debacle – if the fans are the fifth member of the band, shouldnít they get to hear their own music for free?
But thatís alright, Metallica has always been a band of contradiction. They rose to fame as the mouthpiece for the downtrodden, as the band the working class could rally around, so that when Metallica made it big, in a way, so did the little guy.
Fame and riches have since mutated the band into Some Kind of Monster – the title of the 2004 documentary, but also an apt description of the histrionics on display during the recording of the bandís 2003 release, St. Anger. The documentary itself is rife with contradiction – is the bandís public therapy session admirable or admonishing?
That said, thereís nothing classy about shit-talking and some decidedly uncool stuff definitely went down, but just when youíre ready to write Metallica off as a bunch of whining ninnies, the band goes and records a sweet cover of “The Ecstacy of Gold” – Ennio Morriconeís haunting track from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Metallica has been using the original Morricone track as the intro music for its concerts since the early 80ís, and Tuesday night at GM Place was no exception. Metallicaís career-long embrace of the Morricone recording may speak to the bandís self-awarenessĖin the film, the track is played over a graveyard scene, with Tuco scouring the site for the grave that holds $200,000 in gold coins.
Death and riches¬†–¬†thatís it right there – maybe if the band¬†amasses enough wealth, they can hide from misery behind a wall of craptastic goods. The Some Kind of Monster documentary is an embarrassing testament to niggling criticism and petty jealousies – the Metallica guys arenít busting their asses working manual labour jobs, but theyíre still up to their eyeballs in the shitĖitís just that this time itís their own, personal shit.
Regardless of the mess that is the Metallica legacy, you know itís a good show when the guy beside you shakes out his ponytail and doesnít tie it back up until after the last encore – an encore during which thousands of black, Metallica-stamped beach balls descend from the ceiling. Is a ball full of hot air an appropriate souvenir for a Metallica show? Iíll leave that for you to decide.