Friday, October 19, 2018
Metallica put on one hell of a show last night. And that may not be a good thing.
The set at PPG Paints Arena was tight and covered a lot of ground from their historic discography. Kirk Hammett was shredding as Kirk Hammett shreds. James Hetfield commanded the stage like a childhood friend’s father who you are kind of scared of and totally respect. Robert Trujillo had his bass slung low and postured a nice crab stance. And Lars. Well, Lars was quintessential Lars, jumping off his throne to do standing cymbal rolls and running to the edge of the stage as the band’s hype man.
But being consummate professionals with almost 40 years of touring experience may be working against them at this point. While the music was great and the enthusiasm from both the band and the crowd was remarkable, much of the show felt more like a Broadway performance than a bone-crunching metal show. There were few flaws, no gaffs, no missed notes. That’s highly marketable, but also highly boring.
The stage was in the center of the floor like theater in the round, and while that’s a cool idea, it doesn’t translate to rock the way a stage on a back wall stacked with Marshalls does. There were no amps on the stage, in fact. And there’s something inauthentic about guitars that are wirelessly beamed to the same overhead PA system that plays the "Hey" song for Penguins games. (Do they still play that?)
There was Metallica-branded beer and merch strewn about the concourse. And while none of this is surprising or offensive, it leaves the audience feeling more like they were at the Mall of Metallica and less like they just had their faces melted off in a sweaty stage-side pit. Is this what rock turns into when we age? If so, I’ll pass.