Metallica with Avenged Sevenfold

(Originally Published on South Florida Insider)

Thrash Metal Demigods Create Explosive Chaos on Dolphins’ Home Turf – Review of the Metallica Concert at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL

Story by: Gleb Barabanov

Heavy metal titans Metallica stopped by the recently renovated Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on their latest tour in support of their new double album album, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” which released in November of last year, bringing their WorldWired tour to Miami Gardens. Their first proper tour of the United States in almost eight years, the legendary ensemble brought out a gargantuan production for this tour, employing an enormous LED screen that was easily 100 feet tall and reached the very upper levels of the football stadium. Joining them on this jaunt across the states were hard rock luminaries Avenged Sevenfold and powerhouse newcomers Volbeat.

Tens of thousands of people descended on the Dolphins’ arena to witness the spectacle, which was upgraded last year with an open-air canopy to shield the fans from the bi-polar weather South Florida is known for. This upgrade has allowed more musical events take place at the stadium this year, while making sure each concert is not a gamble on a rain-drenched evening with no escape from the elements. While expensive, the renovations paid off, with massive groups like Coldplay and U2 making the arena one of the stops on their summer tours.

The concert wasted no time in getting started, with Volbeat beginning their set bright and early at 6 PM. Founded in 2001, the Danish natives released their first album, “The Strength/The Sound/The Songs” in 2005 and have been unleashing a steady stream of great albums, their combined releases going 14x Platinum in Denmark. Singer/guitarist Michael Poulsen and the rest of the gang appeared onstage and the group began their set with The Devil’s Bleeding Crown from their latest record, “Seal the Deal and Lets Boogie”. Ex-Anthrax Guitarist Rob Caggiano joined the group and 2013 and has brought dexterous lead arrangements and backing vocals, which has elevated the group to all new levels in their live performances. After a few more songs from their latest offerings, the group played Sad Man’s Tongue from their breakout album “Rock the Rebel/Meet the Devil”, performing Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” in place of the normal introduction to the song. Caroline Leaving also made an appearance in the setlist, being performed live for the first time since 2014, and the group finished off their time on stage with Still Counting.

After a brief break to allow the technicians to set up the next group’s equipment, during which a DJ appeared on the stage and played, surprisingly, remixes of classic heavy metal songs such as Pantera and Megadeth, the loudspeaker music cut off and the arena lights dimmed. M. Shadows ran onto the stage, greeting the crowd as the rest of the band assembled behind him, and Avenged Sevenfold burst into the first song of their set, The Stage. Although utilizing just a small portion of the enormous LED screen reserved for the main event, a live stream of the group performing was projected behind them in order to help the fans in the back of the auditorium be able to see the show. Although the group’s set-list consisted mostly of new material, such as songs Nightmare and Buried Alive, the crowd still chanted along every word which only goes to show how much more popular the group has become in the 18 years since its inception. As soon as M. Shadows began to sing the first words and guitarists Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates played the opening notes on the group’s most popular hit, Bat Country, the crowd in the pit below exploded into one giant mosh-pit, and the pyrotechnic setup that the band had installed on stage began to pour flames in the air behind the performers. After a few more new songs, they played their last number, Unholy Confessions from their first popular album Waking the Fallen” to much acclaim from the gathered throng below.

As A7X departed from the stage and their equipment was ushered from view, tension began to brew in the crowd. The once-in-a-lifetime (or at the very least decade) moment that everyone was waiting for was about to commence, and you could feel the electrifying excitement in the air. Devotees of all ages gathered in the arena, filling up easily 95% of the seats if not selling out the entire stadium, and I noticed some fans as young as 7 years old waiting for the spectacle that was about to take place.

By the time the main event was set to unfold the sun had already set and created a perfect dark backdrop to show off the monolithic screen. The stadium lights set as the screen turned on, projecting a scene from “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” as Ennio Marcone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold” began to play over the loud speakers, signaling Metallica’s imminent appearance. The screen switched over to the cover for their new album, and the band began to appear onstage as singer/guitarist James Hetfield greeted the crowd and began to play new songs Hardwired and Atlas, Rise!. After warming up the wild mob with some fresh material, guitarist Kirk Hammett launched into classic songs For Whom The Bell Tolls, Creeping Death, and The Unforgiven while the enormous monitor flanking them displayed a mixture of song-specific animation and life footage of the band. During the next song, Now That Were Dead, all four members utilized huge bongo drums brought out on stage to hammer out an insane 4 part solo lead by drummer Lars Ulrich. About halfway through the show, the visage of fallen bassist Cliff Burton appeared on the screen as current bassist Rob Trujillo launched into Anesthesia, Cliff’s ripping bass solo, as a tribute. The ensemble played a few more fan favorites like Master of Puppets, Sad But True, and Fade to Black, but the true standout of the night was the anti-war song One. Employing fireworks to imitate flares, stadium lights and smoke, as well as lasers to emulate gunfire, as well as a massive pyrotechnic showing launching pillars of flame high into the air, the group blasted through the classic “…And Justice For All” track to much aplomb from the crowd. Playing for over two hours, Metallica finished their jaunt in Miami with a massive three-song encore, playing Battery, Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman before thanking the crowd for a great show and disappearing off-stage while the cheering throng of fans crowed for more.

It’s hard to imagine how anyone could leave the stadium disappointed that night, with the biggest metal band in the world blasting through all the fan-favorite hits from their massive repertoire as well as showcasing their new album. After witnessing one of the most interesting and innovative shows I’ve ever seen, one could only hope we wont have to wait another 8 years for the opportunity to see Metallica again.