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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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Metallica delivers a knockout punch live in Utah

GET UP!: James Hetfield gets the crowd roaring. / Photo by Ben Hansen

By Ben Hansen

November 7, 2008 | "Where have all of the mullets gone?"

That was my question as I entered the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday night. Metallica, the thrash metal, chart-topping, lords of the '80s mullet have long since passed the days of wearing the outdated hairstyle. Surprisingly enough, only a handful of the fans have clung onto this hairdo from what many consider Metallica's early glory days. So with the mullets gone, would Metallica forget this era in their live set?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Metallica covered both the early and later ends of the band's musical career, pounding out a heavy dose of early speed metal classics, while giving the new fans exactly what they were looking for with a healthy helping of current album splendor. From opening the show with the band's first track off of the new Death Magnetic album, That Was Just Your Life, going immediately into the blistering classic, Creeping Death from 1984's Ride the Lightning, the band quickly let the crowd know that it was going to be a night to remember.

Lead singer and guitarist James Hetfield raised the adrenaline of every audience member throughout the night, barking and growling lyrics from numerous microphones set up in various places throughout the stage. The sight of James' 6-foot-1 frame curled over a microphone belting out the classic song One from the album And Justice for All, while flashpot pyrotechnics and strobe lights went off repeatedly, was enough to whip the general admission portion of the audience on the floor into a complete frenzy, causing security guards to scurry throughout the crowd to keep fans from going over the edge.

With five consecutive No. 1 albums, it would be impossible for obsessive fans to hear everything that they wanted. To the audience's surprise, instead of delivery a standard "hits" package like many live bands, Metallica churned through as many fan favorites as hits throughout the night. Three songs off of the early album Master of Puppets were played, including the title track, Battery and Disposable Heroes, much to the delight of fans ravenous for some "old" Metallica.

New tracks from the Death Magnetic album were blended seamlessly with old, as the band pulled out the new favorites Cyanide, The End of the Line and Broken, Beat and Scarred. Although these songs are all less than two months since release, the audience sang along with such volume that it was difficult to hear James' vocals at times.

Other songs that stood out in the band's set included Wherever I May Roam, For Whom the Bell Tolls and the closing song, Enter Sandman.

As fans began to realize that their voices were gone from shouting and screaming for over an hour and a half, Metallica returned to the stage and delivered encores with covers of punk metal classics Die, Die My Darling and So What. After the last note was hit, house lights came on and James thanked everyone for coming. He looked out to the audience and demanded everyone go home several times. Nobody budged. With a smile and a laugh, he struck the first few notes to the song Seek and Destroy from the first CD Kill 'Em All, when suddenly giant black beach balls came flying down from the ceiling onto all areas of the audience. By the time the song was over, the crowd was again in frenzy. The band fed even further into this by walking around the stage for the next several minutes throwing out dozens of signature guitar picks and drum sticks before calling it a night.

It's hard to believe that Metallica has been touring the U.S. for 25 years. Most heavy rockers may have some of the same old moves, but the songs get slower, the music can change, and many time "artsy" variations of a band's classics become part of the live set. For these guys, this could not be further from the truth. With a platinum new album worthy of gaining new fans and regaining old ones, and a concert nothing short of mesmerizing, Metallica has once again proven that its band members are the Greek gods of heavy metal.

MS
MS

 

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