By Radio.com Staff
The first words spoken over AT&T Park’s massive PA system last night were those of Cage The Elephant‘s Matt Schultz who thanked Metallica for having them. And it was clear they were excited to open for the masters of metal. Schultz even donned a suit for the occasion.
“It’s an absolute pleasure to be here tonight playing with Metallica. Life is crazy,” proclaimed Schultz launching into “In One Ear,” the first of their twelve song set.
Earlier in the day, Radio.com‘s Lindsay Sanchez caught up with Matt and brother Brad to discuss the magnitude of the pre-Super Bowl concert.
The brothers had a laugh over the thought of opening for the Bay Area favorites. They were more intimidated with opening the evening than the thought of headlining their own upcoming tour, Spring Fling. “I didn’t sleep last night,” confessed Matt.
But from the audience’s vantage point, there were no nerves from the Bowling Green, Kentucky band. The normally energetic frontman stepped it up a notch dancing around every inch of the enormous stage.
Enjoying the potential challenge of winning over the crowd, Matt jumped into the moat and sang just inches from an adoring fans’ face during “Back Against The Wall.” Jumping back on stage he was greeted hundreds of die-hard fans stuffed into the snake pit, an oval shaped area surrounded by outcroppings of the stage (tickets for the pit are available only to members of the band’s fan club).
The band stepped up their rock game with guitars played harder and faster than normal. The real test came when they broke down the tempo for “Trouble,” which was met with female screams of approval.
Set to deadly glowing red lights, the band turned it up to 11 on their new single “She Don’t Mess Around.” Guitarist Nick Bockrath offered up a powerfully screechy solo not often heard in a cage set.
Closing the set with their hit, “Come a Little Closer,” Cage the Elephant could breath a sigh of relief. They pleased a crowd that was there to do one thing—rock.
From there, Metallica took over; a recording of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town” let the crowd know that the hometown band would soon hit the stage. After that, they played their traditional walk-on music: “The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, before launching into their set with “Creeping Death.” While never a huge radio hit, it’s a favorite among Metallica fans who love chanting along with the “Die! By my hand!” breakdown. And watching a stadium full of fans lose their minds to the song probably never gets old for James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo.
From there, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” When Metallica first released that song (like “Creeping Death,” it’s from 1984’s Ride the Lightning), it was an anthem for outsiders; it appealed to metal heads only. In the years since, it’s been used by NFL, NHL and MLB teams and players, which shows how far Metallica have come from their early days as an underground thrash metal band.
“Fuel” and “King Nothing” took them to the ’90s Load/Reload era, before they returned to 1984 for Ride the Lightning‘s brutal title track. Then, Hetfield took out his mounted acoustic guitar for 1991’s “The Unforgiven,” which saw him switching between acoustic and electric.
Those who were Metallica fans in the mid-’90s remember how controversial the aforementioned Load and Reload albums were; from their (shocking!) short haircuts, to the fact that they seemed to be influenced by the alternative rock of the day, to the Marianne Faithful guest appearance, fans (at the time) seemed to feel the albums were a curveball of sorts. So it must be satisfying to the band to hear, nearly 20 years later, “The Memory Remains” welcomed as a classic with a stadium full of people singing Faithful’s vocal lines.
Like “Creeping Death,” “Seek and Destroy” is a “Whole Lotta Love”-sized hit among Metallica fans. It was the only song from their classic 1983 debut Kill ‘Em All, that they played; Hetfield noted that the album changed his life, which is surely true. Back when glam-metal bands ruled the airways, he and Ulrich probably couldn’t have imagined filling stadiums with people chanting those lyrics back to the band.
Before the encore Hetfield told the audience, “I’d like to dedicate this song to Mr. Cliff Burton,” the band’s late bassist. “A brother of ours, who’s still alive in our hearts,” before launching into “Whiskey in the Jar” (a traditional folk song that was a hit for Burton’s favorite band, Thin Lizzy, in the ’70s).
Metallica’s Back in Black is their 1991 self-titled LP, known as “The Black Album.” It’s the one that took them from being a very popular metal band to one that dominated MTV, radio and headlined stadiums. Fittingly, they finished with the two biggest songs from that album: the ballad “Nothing Else Matters,” and the crushing “Enter Sandman.”
“DID YOU HAVE FUN TONIGHT?” Hetfield yelled a few songs earlier, during “Seek and Destroy.” Despite the fact that so many of Metallica’s songs, particularly the older ones, are about alienation and the pain of being an outsider—not necessarily fun topics—the answer from the stadium full of fans was a resounding “YEEEEEAAAAHHH!” The fact that Metallica have been able to ask that question to packed arenas and stadiums for a quarter of a century is no less than astounding. And year after year, the answer is always the same: “YEEEEEAAAAHHH!”
After the show, the band members came to the front of the stage to say their goodbyes to the audience—as they do at the end of every show. Ulrich noted that Metallica played San Francisco for the first time 34 years ago, and it’s been their home ever since; Hetfield noted that playing AT&T Park—home of the San Francisco Giants—was a dream come true.
Before leaving the stage, Ulrich yelled “We will see you very soon with a brand new f—ing record!” No doubt the fans in S.F.—and all over the world—eagerly await that. And, of course, the tour that will follow.
Cage The Elephant Set List
- In One Ear
- Cry Baby
- Cold Cold Cold
- Punching Bag
- Back Against The Wall
- Mess Around
- No Rest
- Shake Me Down
- Come A Little Closer
Metallica Set List
- Creeping Death
- For Whom The Bell Tolls
- King Nothing
- Ride The Lightning
- The Unforgiven
- The Memory Remains
- Sad But True
- Wherever They May Roam
- Master of Puppets
- Fade To Black
- Seek and Destroy
- Whisky In The Jar
- Nothing Else Matters
- Enter Sandman