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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Metallica Brings Out Lou Reed, Kid Rock, Mercyful Fate, and More as the 30th Anniversary Party Continues

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 3:33 AM

Metallica with Mercyful Fate at the FIllmore Wednesday night. - JEFF YEAGER
  • Jeff Yeager
  • Metallica with Mercyful Fate at the FIllmore Wednesday night.

See more of our Metallica Week coverage:

Author Brian Lew on the Early Days of Metallica and the Bay Area Thrash Metal Scene

Six Signs of Metallica's Pervasive Influence on Pop Culture

Metallica Kicks off Its 30th Anniversary Week with Notable Guests, Rare Songs, and Lots of Talking

Sad But True: How the Black Album Both Made and Ruined Metallica

Can't Make It to Metallica's 30th Anniversary Concerts? Celebrate at These Shows Instead


(plus guests)

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011

The Fillmore

Better than: Lulu in its entirety. Obviously.

Turns out there is one persona non grata whom even surly, drunken Metallica fans won't be nasty to in person.

His name is Lou Reed.

But then last night, during Metallica's second 30th Anniversary show at the Fillmore, the fans were warned. Before the band brought out Reed to play a couple songs off Lulu, its much-derided collaboration album with the former Velvet Underground singer, the members issued a gushing tribute to the art-punk godfather. Drummer Lars Ulrich notified the fan club-only audience that, "If you fuck with him, he will beat your ass." But it was probably Ulrich's second warning that really made the fans behave: "If you're not nice, we're gonna play the whole album, okay?"

So when Reed finally came out, looking rather tame in a fuddy-duddy leather jacket and eyeglasses, and standing several feet back from the edge of the stage, the fans were almost completely polite (and quiet). A few scattered boos rang out. But when the group leaned into "Iced Honey," the most palatable song off Lulu, the goateed heads inside the Fillmore were nodding, if not banging. Onstage, Metallica's monstrous chug nearly drowned out Reed's flat-toned mumbling, reversing the dynamic that the two collaborators have on their record. Instead of a madman rambling loudly over discordant riffage, Reed sounded like a small piece of flotsam spinning helplessly in a whirlpool of deep black power chords.

It's Lou Reed! - JEFF YEAGER
  • Jeff Yeager
  • It's Lou Reed!

Even "The View" -- whose studio recording is almost comically disjointed -- approached palatability onstage. Hetfield's vocal contributions were loud enough to seem purposeful, and the Metallica singer grinned wildly at his collaborator as the song progressed. Reed was for the most part stiff. (Out of indifference or fear? We couldn't tell.) None of the songs Reed played with Metallica last night -- including their raucous take on "White Light/White Heat" -- were crowd favorites, although the latter especially earned a polite reception. But when Reed's time was over, he was given a respectable amount of applause.

The contrast became clear immediately after he left, when Metallica ripped into the beloved "Creeping Death" with former bassist Jason Newsted. The ballroom filled with raised hands in the shape of devil horns, chants of "Die!" (it's part of the song), and furious head-banging. As he did throughout the two anniversary shows, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett reproduced his triumphant guitar solo note-for-note, seemingly with a minimum of effort, which drove many beery Metallica fans into hilarious air-guitarring. When "Battery" arrived next, it seemed like the room might explode. It's difficult to imagine the sonic brutality that results when Metallica, bolstered by two bassists, performs one of its classic thrash metal songs with superhuman precision in a smallish room at incredible volume. If you could bottle the experience, you could build a smart bomb. A happiness-inducing smart bomb. Even the ever-chatty Ulrich was speechless: "Jesus christ -- how the fuck do we follow that?" he quipped, after "Battery" had subsided. We didn't hear an answer.

Kid Rock with Metallica - JEFF YEAGER
  • Jeff Yeager
  • Kid Rock with Metallica

Reed was but one in a parade of guests last night, continuing the pattern Metallica established with Monday's show. We heard from Marianne Faithful, who made a rather quiet contribution to "The Memory Remains"; Kid Rock, who delivered all the words to the Bob Seger classic "Turn the Page" without actually singing any of them; the Danish metal band Mercyful Fate, whose members reunited to play their nearly 12-minute titular song; Newsted, who should rejoin Metallica so the band can have two bass players; Armored Saint singer John Bush, who once turned down a chance to be lead singer in Metallica; Sweet Savage singer Ray Haller, who performed "Killing Time" with the band; and Scott Ian, who appeared during the finale, not Metallica's main set, and who grinned a lot for a guy whose own group is called Anthrax.

The Fillmore men's room will never be the same... and no, we didn't write this.
  • The Fillmore men's room will never be the same... and no, we didn't write this.

Last night's performance was shorter and tighter than Monday's, ending nearly an hour earlier, around 1 a.m., even though it included just as many songs (and began 25 minutes earlier). Hetfield and Ulrich slipped into a bit of their brotherly banter, but for the most part the band launched from one song to another, stopping only for necessary introductions and a few asides. One, um, surprise came just before Mercyful Fate's appearance, when Hetfield removed his shirt to reveal -- whoa -- a ripped chest. Ulrich made a joke about the singer's new diet, but standing shirtless next to his scrawny, balding drummer and a bunch of pudgy white metal dudes, Hetfield had nothing to be ashamed of.

As on Monday, the night ended with "Seek and Destroy," performed by Metallica and as many guests as were willing (Lou Reed apparently wasn't), and preceded by a shower of yellow balloons. The Kill 'Em All classic couldn't quite match other highlights of the night -- did we mention that the four band members alone played "Enter Sandman," and it was amazing? -- but there was more than enough excellent Bay Area thrash metal to go around. Metallica's 30th Anniversary party continues on Friday and Saturday, and after last night's impressive parade of guests, we're still very much excited to see what happens.

Critic's Notebook

Revealing quote of the night:

Ulrich: "Who knows what song it is if I say it's a four count?

Hetfield, chuckling: "All of them except 'Leper Messiah'.

New song of the night: Metallica played "Just a Bullet Away," which, like Monday's new one, "Hate Train," is an unreleased tune from the Death Magnetic sessions. Unlike "Hate Train," though, this one was brutally insistent and mostly good. Its weirdly wobbly chorus will take some getting used to, though.

Personal bias: Found myself a bit star-struck at being in the same room as Lou Reed -- and I wasn't the only one. Yeah, his stage presence was minimal, but it's fucking Lou Reed! You could almost hear the Lulu-haters (I'm not one) grudgingly giving respect, even if they didn't say it out loud.

Highlight: Yes, "Enter Sandman" was good, but "Creeping Death" gave me chills.

Setlist after the jump


To Live Is to Die

Enter Sandman

Holier Than Thou

Disposable Heroes

Bleeding Me

Wasting My Hate

My Apocalypse

Just A Bullet Away


The Memory Remains (with Marianne Faithful)

Killing Time (with Ray Haller)

Turn the Page (with Kid Rock)

The Four Horsemen (with John Bush)

Iced Honey (with Lou Reed)

The View (with Lou Reed)

White Light/White Heat (with Lou Reed)

Creeping Death (with Jason Newsted)

Battery (with Jason Newsted)

Mercyful Fate (with Mercyful Fate)

Seek and Destroy (with many guests)


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