Metallica at Freedom Hall

By Jason Koerner

Metallica recently played a big show here in Louisville at Freedom Hall with Godsmack, proving they are still alive and well ... for the most part.

The show had a few intricacies that were contributing factors to a memorable evening.

First of all, the stage was a 360-degree setup in the middle of the arena, much like a basketball court. It allowed the musicians to move freely in all directions and even up to higher levels. It was like a giant hamster cage with tunnels, pedestals and ten vocal microphones. Additionally, the drums were on a slowly rotating platform, so even the drummers had the opportunity to see all around and play to the entire crowd at some point or another.

Secondly, there were also more explosions on stage than there were in World War II. The production crew really went out of their way with the pyrotechnics on this event. It was great! I was taking pictures a little too close to some of the bursting flames, but fortunately, I retained my eyebrows and what little hair I have. Though they made me deaf for three days, I enjoyed every last flare.

Photo of Lars and Kirk
Photo By Jason Koerner
Lars and Kirk

Last but not least in regards to the extras offered for the show, there were giant screens showing the action up close to those who sat in the nosebleed section. The definition during Godsmack's was incredible for a concert setting and screens so big. Metallica went for the raw black and white security camera look; remaining consistent with the St. Anger theme of "less is more." In this case it wasn't, though there were a few cool camera angles of Lars' feet at floor level and James' face from the microphone stand camera.

Photo of Metallica Bassist Robert
Photo By Jason Koerner
Metallica Bassist Robert

I have to say this off the bat: I am not a fan of Godsmack, but I would be a liar if I said they did not put on a good performance. They have had major success over the past few years and have racked up hit single after hit single. Though their career is much shorter than that of Metallica, they set was filled with many popular songs which is typically a trademark of a band that is highly established and has some years under their belt. The band cranked out all their biggest tunes like "Whatever" and "I Stand Alone" amongst an arsenal of others and filled the gaps with newer and lesser-known songs. The highlight of their set, without a doubt, was the dueling drum playing of singer Sully Erna and the group's regular drummer, Shannon Larkin. It was very entertaining and redeeming of the last time I saw them with Staind. As usual, Sully made comments about the crowd sitting down, but focused less on it this time than the previous time mentioned. The band is too cliché for me to get into, but they are doing things that turn a lot of people on to the band, so more power to them.

In between bands, there was the highly anticipated "breast showdown." It is the contest - with no real prizes - to see how much applause females can get from drunk, horny males for showing their chests to the world. I always enjoy that part of concerts.

Photo of Metallica Vocalist James
Photo By Jason Koerner
Metallica Vocalist James

Metallica entered the stage, an hour after Godsmack's last note. It was worth the wait, since it was my first time seeing the band in person. The opened with "Blackened" and continued a two-hour rampage for the 15,000 who attended. Not one, nor two, but three encores were needed to close the big night. The band covered all the bases in regards to decades of their music, focusing on the overall picture of the band. It wasn't just the new stuff or the old stuff, it was a mix of everything Metallica has to offer. I am not a fan of the newer releases of the band, much like many people who were fans of the self-titled "Black" album back in the early days of the group, but they are carrying on a lengthy career doing what they love. How can you argue with that?

The band played songs such as "Enter Sandman," "Frantic," "Fuel," "Master of Puppets" and ... the list goes on and on. The climax of their set for me was when they played "One." The lights dropped, the crowd roared and the pyrotechnics went kamikaze. Simulations of bombs and machine guns combined with fire and loud music is a winning combination for any predominately male audience. Not to mention it is one of my favorite songs...

Photo of Godsmack Bassist
Photo By Jason Koerner
Godsmack Bassist

The band sounded great, despite the points in which I noticed a little sloppy guitar work from Hetfield or some lighter-than-recorded drum beats from Ulrich. The guys are getting up there in age and cannot be expected to do the same show today as they did in the 80s. In retrospect, I think they did a damn fine job and the energy level was never lacking. The band may have changed their style, but they are still Metallica no matter how you look at it. Napster lawsuits, new haircuts and a little bit of aging cannot take away the accomplishments and the talent of the metal forerunners.

Photo of Godsmack Vocalist Sully
Photo By Jason Koerner
Godsmack Vocalist Sully