It is ironic, considering how much Metallica people like to sing and listen to songs about death and craziness, how happy everyone was last night. Not the least of all James Hetfield. Here’s a happy superstar, I thought, as his huge visage lit up the night sky. Here’s a man who is well-pleased with himself and with his portion in life. The worst thing in the way of scandal which came has ever came his way was that he was spotted buying Armani- and even then, as his staunch defenders pointed out, the man’s a forty-something millionaire- where is he expected to shop? Walmart?
There were women too in the crowd, standing smiling and tolerant of their partner’s passion. But the night belonged to the man-fans. “Amazing!” they screamed, singing along every single word of every single song, with correct intonation. Sweet fumes curled above the shaved and baseball-capped heads, banging and twisting away in ecstasy. “Obey your MASTER!” shrieked fat aging nerdy-looking nerds, some still wearing pale-blue office shirts. Yes.
James Hetfield responded to the love- unlike Some Others RockStars, he knew which city he was performing in, and even made a pretty joke about the event “Metalifax!” which made his fans hysterical. He told his fans he loved them too, and blew them kisses. More hysteria. His surprise at having so many devotees in a some distant far-flung Canadian outback was genuine. “How many people are here?” he asked, “Light up the arena, I wanna see the Metallica family here!”
In contrast to his slick showmanship was the unexpected charisma of the guitarist, Kirk Something. The true gentleman-hero of the night, he radiated artistry and musicianship. The other guitarist looked like a reject from Black-Eyed Peas, and the less said about the drummer, the better.
Everyone needs to howl “But the memory reMAINS!” up at a cold Canadian summer sky at some point in their lives. I’m not a metal head, and last night didn’t make me one. But good songs defy labels, genders and boundaries. They promised that their next visit to Halifax wouldn’t take 18 years. I’ll be there.