Super Bowl 50. A milestone. An epic event. Set in the San Francisco area, Super Bowl 50 promised to be a once in a lifetime experience. The huddled masses of the Bay Area wanted, no.. needed, a halftime show of equally epic proportions. A young man from Ohio had a brilliant idea. Why not allow a local band to perform at the halftime show? Jason Long started a petition to get Metallica, a local band with a good 35-year history in San Francisco, to play the Super Bowl. Metallica songs are anthems played in sporting stadiums around the country anyway. Jason’s petition quickly caught the eye of media outlets everywhere including Metallica and the NFL. But alas, after 63,925 signatures it was not to be. Much to the chagrin of everyone, Coldplay was chosen. But never fear. Metallica was so well chuffed by the idea, they rented out AT &T Park in downtown San Francisco and created CBS Radio’s The Night Before. Fans rejoiced! A full Metallica show with no time constraints or auto-tune.
Do you remember the Rolling Stones in the 1960s? That’s the sound and fury that emanates from Cage the Elephant in the 2000teens. Bluesy. Rocky. Punkish. Cage the Elephant are high energy performers that harken back to a simpler time of rock and roll. They are old-fashioned rock and rollers if you will. Matt Shultz channels his inner Mick Jagger in tone and stage presence. Jared Champion on drums is thumptastic. Jared lays down a solid groove that skillfully carries the band throughout the performance. Cage the Elephant is a head bopping, foot tapping live band. The tunes are made for dancing. I know I Frugged and Watusied during the set. Cage the Elephant are a fresh light antithesis to Metallica. Cage would be better suited to tour with Rival Sons. This pairing would be a blues dance fest of epic proportions. It’s a good thing the core Metallica family, i.e. clubbers are open-minded and tend to adopt great opening acts as their own; think Mars Volta or Volbeat. The crowd was behind them from start to finish. Cage the Elephant’s songs are easy to sing along to and you find the lyrics stuck in your head for days afterwards. The melodies become permanent rotators for the evil DJ in your brain. Brad Shultz’s guitar solos are Kink’s worthy. Dave Davies would be proud. Daniel Tichenor on bass would be at home on Ready. Steady. Go!, The Ed Sullivan Show, or The !!!! Beat but instead he is wowing crowds in 2016 San Francisco the night before the Super Bowl. Cage the Elephant have a strong stage show and I highly recommend caching them on tour. Be sure to bring your dancing shoes.
Meanwhile, what did Metallica fans, many of whom traveled from all over the globe, get for their dollar, eighteen songs and almost two and a half hours of music! Metallica touted that there would be a new stage set up for this show. I guess 58 Metallica shows and darn and tarnation if I could find any new elements. They brought back the pit, a closed-off area off the middle of the stage for Metclub (I’m sorry, 5th Member) contest winners. A catwalk surrounded this area and was heavily utilized by the boys. Those inside the pit got a 360-degree view of Metallica while those outside the pit had extra “rail space” to see them perform. The stage itself was shallow and five giant screens set up; the same screens from Poland and Knebworth in 2014.
I awaited the signature ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock and Roll’ to start the show. Instead, I was cheerfully greeted with ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ before launching into Ennio Marconi’s ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’. This is where the Metallica family member in me loses their shit as we know that the next 2 hours and 20 minutes will be the best of our lives. A happy inclusion to the stage set was the return of pyro. For ‘Fuel’, pyro blasts erupted from the top of the screens. You could feel the heat from the field. I actually backed up a couple of paces. Prior to ‘Ride the Lightning’, James Hetfield mentioned Jason Long’s petition and how things worked out as they can play a full set for the fans.
Metallica’s sound at ATT Park was pristine. Metallica long ago transitioned to a fully digital rig and it’s made a load of difference in the quality of sound in venues. Everything is heard, every note, every bass, every plucked string, every flub. Rob Trujillo kept the bass riffs nice and heavy, so heavy in fact it felt like you were constantly being thumped in the chest. Kirk Hammett did his soloing and the first was variations on the theme of ‘Bleeding Me’. I was hoping they would play the entire song, but Kirk’s solo take on it was a bang-up job. The power of Metallica shone through a second time (the first with the epic ‘Creeping Death’, “Die. Die. Die.” chant) when James got a crowd of about 41,000+ people from all over the world to harmonize for ‘Memory Remains’.
Almost 35 years after forming, Metallica can hit a stage with nothing but themselves and their music to wow an audience. You wanted heavy; Metallica gave you heavy!
Metallica set list:
Intro (The Ecstasy Of Gold)
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Ride The Lightening
Kirk Guitar solo 1 (Bleeding Me into)
The Memory Remains
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Sad But True
Robert Bass Solo
Wherever I May Roam
Master of Puppets
Jam/Kirk solo 2 (w/ Hero Of The Day into)
Fade To Black
Seek And Destroy
Whiskey In The Jar (Thin Lizzy cover)
Nothing Else Matters
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