Friday, June 21, 2013

ORION Music + More: Day 2, Part 3: METALLICA!!!

Post #253
METALLICA Headlines Orion Music + More!
June 9th, 2013

As the sun began to set on the evening of June 9th, 2013, Orion Music + More was set to come to a thrilling conclusion. Metallica, the visionaries of this festival, were about to perform their highly anticipated headlining set. The crowd had congregated around the Orion Stage for what was sure to be one of the best performances in Metallica's history.

A video began to play upon the large video screens to either side of the stage, showing scenes from the film The Good The Bad and The Ugly, while the song 'The Ecstasy of Gold', Metallica's classic intro music, played. Once the film intro finished playing, there was a fade-in guitar riff that steadily rose in volume. I recognized it as the beginning of 'Blackened' from the ...And Justice for All album. Guitars, drums, and bass erupted simultaneously with the opening riff of this up-tempo thrasher. Singer/guitarist James Hetfield, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Rob Trujillo, and drummer Lars Ulrich were highlighted by spotlights as the fading sun brought dusk over Orion Fest. The first couple measures of the song passed quickly, then James screamed out, "Blackened is the end! Winter it will send! Throwing all you see into obscurity..." Mass chaos had possessed the crowd, as people everywhere were jumping up and down, or moshing, or simply cheering with their fists pumping to the sky. Others were singing along to the words they knew by heart.

Behind the stage the massive video screens projected close-up shots of the band members- an essential element of this concert as the field was packed with tens of thousands of Metallica fans. Without the screens the people furthest from the stage couldn't have seen the stage. Three separate screens; two on either side of the stage and a huge one behind that spanned the entire width of the stage allowed everyone to see close-up shots of their favorite heavy metal band as they played their classic riffs or sang their favorite lines.
(Photo by Cambria Harkey)

As the first song came to an end, I wondered briefly if Metallica were going to perform the complete 1988 album ...And Justice For All in honor of its 25th anniversary. However, they instead jumped into 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' from the Ride the Lightning album almost without a pause, driving the crowd further into a frenzy. This song was a true classic thrash song and even more people knew the words. If you could stop yourself from singing along, you could hear the din of thousands of voices joining in to recite the lyrics along with Hetfield.

Their third song of the evening was another sample from their early days, but a little more obscure- 'Disposable Heroes' from the Master of Puppets album. This was a seriously fast heavy thrasher about the plight of the enlisted soldier on the front lines of war. Tragic battlefield scenes are described in each verse and the choruses are a command to the song's tragic hero, "You will do what I say, when I say! Back to the FRONT!"
(Photo by Cambria Harkey)

After 'Disposable Heroes,' a  9-minute long song, the band finally paused and Hetfield addressed the crowd for the first time. "Phew! That was a long song!" he said as he shook his hands to keep them loose. He then asked the crowd how they had been enjoying Orion Fest so far- raucous cheers came as the response. "We finally get to play!" Hetfield exclaimed. He mentioned that 'dehaan' played yesterday, and commented, "Funny, they kinda looked a lot like us. Sounded a lot like us, too." Then he gave the crowd a knowing grin. His words and grin alluded to their surprise appearance under a fake name the day before. After mentioning how they had been enjoying several great bands themselves for the last 2 days. He said he hoped we had enjoyed this 'giant backyard barbecue'- a phrase he had mentioned a few times previously during the fest.

Over the course of the concert Metallica mixed things up by playing songs from almost every one of their albums. They played songs like 'Carpe Diem Baby' from the album Reload, which they had not played live for several years, and 'I Disappear' from the soundtrack for Mission: Impossible 2. Other fan favorites like 'Master of Pupperts' and 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' were also played, providing a thorough balance to the set list. Metallica were giving the crowd a little bit of everything, catering to fans of every era of their 30-year history.

One of my favorite parts of the show was when they played 'Orion', the instrumental track for the Master of Puppets album that was primarily written by the late Cliff Burton. There is a highlight bass solo in the middle of the song and Trujillo did a perfect rendition of it. Few bands can keep a crowd entertained for over 8 minutes with an instrumental song, but Metallica have written some of the best instrumentals in heavy metal, and the crowd enjoyed every minute of it. It was a fitting touch that they played the song for which they had named this festival after. At the end, Hetfield said, "God bless Clifford Lee Burton."
(Photo by Cambria Harkey)

Another memorable song they played was 'The Day that Never Comes' from their most recent album, Death Magnetic. This song really shows the strength of Metallica's songwriting prowess. It starts off with a melodic clean guitar riff, then Hammett's lead guitar comes into the mix, creating Metallica's dynamic 2-guitar sound. During the first half of the song, Hetfield sings in his clean and melodic voice. Gradually, though, the song transitions in tempo and amplitude until it reaches a full-speed thrash! The last couple minutes of the song are where Hammett really shines, ripping one killer guitar solo after another before the song comes to a sudden stop.

When they played 'One' from ...And Justice for All, the stage went dark, with only subtle back lighting at the start. Sound effects from a battlefield played as the intro, accompanied by real fireworks launched from above the stage. When Hetfield's guitar began to play the sad and somber melody, red laser lights projected and circled over the crowd. The lyrics of this song depict a nightmarish predicament of a soldier who survives a landmine explosion but loses his sight, speech, hearing, and all four of his limbs. The degree of the soldier's despair becomes apparent as Hetfield sings, "Hold my breath as I wish for death. Oh, please God, wake me..." The darkened stage lighting persisted throughout the song while the laser light effects mirrored the mood of the song, intensifying along with the music at the end when it came to an ultimate headbanger's thrash-fest.
(Photo by Cambria Harkey)

Closer to the end of the show Metallica slowed things up a little when they played 'Nothing Else Matters', one of their biggest hits from their self-titled album, often referred to as the 'Black Album'. The crowd responded with one of the biggest cheers of the evening and proceeded to sing along as well. This was probably the softest song they played on this night, but the crowd loved every minute of it. In typical Metallica fashion, they did make it a little heavy at the end and Hammett provided another classic and intense guitar solo.

As the final guitar notes faded out at the end of 'Nothing Else Matters,' the camera zoomed in on Hetfield's guitar. When the camera spanned to his picking hand, he held his guitar pick up for all to see the Orion Fest logo and date written upon it. The crowd cheered loudly, feeling the significance of this piece of music history they had been a part of. Then Hetfield began playing the most recognized guitar riff ever... 'Enter Sandman'! I don't think the crowd had screamed louder all weekend. Metallica delivered 'Enter Sandman' in all its heavy glory, while the crowd again sang along and pumped their fists in the air. When this song concluded, Metallica took a couple bows and headed off backstage. The crowd grew restless and began chanting for an encore.
(Photo by Cambria Harkey)

The chanting crowd was rewarded when Metallica returned to the stage and surprised everybody by kicking off the encore with Bob Seger's 'Turn the Page'. This song was a big hit for Metallica in the late '90s from their Garage Inc. album. It is a slow but heavy song that tells the tiring details of life on the road in a rock band. Metallica played it very true to the original, but a bit heavier. Next came their thrashing classic 'Creeping Death' from Ride the Lightning. 'Creeping Death' was famously inspired by the 1956 film The Ten Commandments. The scene from the film where the plague that kills the first-born children creeps like a mist along the ground is embodied in the crowd participation segment of the song, where the crowd chants "Die!" over and over while Hetfield sings, "Die by my hand, I creep across the land, killing first-born men..."

After this song Hetfield spoke to the crowd again, asking again how they liked Orion, how they liked it being in Detroit, and if they wanted them to keep the fest in Detroit next year. Huge cheers in support of the festival resounded. Hetfield then teased the crowd a bit by putting on his guitar (to loud cheers) then taking it off (to loud boos) before finally settling to play one more song for the enormous crowd. Their last song of the night was 'Seek and Destroy' from their first album Kill 'Em All. A couple lucky kids were brought on stage to hit the cymbal on Lars's drum kit to kick-off the song. Then Hetfield, Hammett, and Trujillo thrashed on with the riff of this classic Metallica song. It is a mid-tempo thrasher that is enjoyed by Metallica fans new or old.

At the end, the band gave the crowd a final farewell, tossed their numerous drumsticks and guitar picks into the audience and wished us all a safe trip home. It was an amazing experience, and truly was like the biggest backyard barbecue I'd ever been to, filled with awesome music and incredible performances and experiences. Much thanks to the city of Detroit for hosting and planning the festival, sincere gratitude to C3 and Fresh Clean Media for organizing the festival and media coverage, and enormous props, thanks and sincere gratitude to Metallica for providing the inspiration for this truly awesome festival. Happy Headbanging to all!
(Photo by Cambria Harkey)

Metallica's set list from June 9th at Orion Fest:
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Disposable Heroes
Harvester of Sorrow
The Day that Never Comes
Carpe Diem Baby
I Disappear
Sad but True
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Master of Puppets
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Turn the Page (Bob Seger cover)
Creeping Death
Seek and Destroy

(Photos courtesy of Orion Music + More)

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