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Metallica

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Metallica performs at Mandalay Bay Events Center on December 5.
Photo: Sam Morris

When Metallica played the Thomas & Mack Center in March 2004, drummer Lars Ulrich asked the audience, “How about we come back to Las Vegas every three months?” More than five years later, the band returned to Vegas, and at the end of Saturday’s show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Ulrich asked the audience, “Am I the only one who thinks Metallica should come to Las Vegas more than every five years?”

Metallica @Mandalay Bay

Uh, no, Lars, you’re not; judging by the completely sold-out arena (the crowd filled the place, since the concert was in the round), lots of Las Vegans would love to see your band more often. Empty promises aside, the members of Metallica gave their all during the two-hour-plus show, constantly moving around the large stage and playing with seemingly boundless energy. Metallica is an inherently conservative live act, so the songs in the set list were mostly expected old favorites (“Enter Sandman,” “One,” “Seek and Destroy”), plus more than half of recent album Death Magnetic.

Although audience response was strong to songs both new and old, the live setting really highlighted the formless, uninviting nature of the Magnetic tunes, which remain overlong and haphazardly constructed. The band also seemed a little out of step on some of the faster classics, including “Master of Puppets” and “Fight Fire With Fire.”

The Details

Metallica
Three stars
Mandalay Bay Events Center, December 5
From the Archive
Louder than puppets: A Morrissey vs. Metallica lyrical quiz (12/01/09)

Past Metallica tours have featured distractingly elaborate production (the stunt sequence during shows on the band’s 1997 tour was a particular low point), but this had just the right balance of spectacle (pyro on a few songs, coffin-shaped lighting rigs in homage to Death Magnetic’s cover) and substance. Frontman James Hetfield connected well with the multigenerational crowd (ranging from 10-year-olds in the front row to gray-haired lifers), and they returned his enthusiasm. Everyone left eager for more, but it seems likely they’ll have to wait another five years or so to get it.

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