Metallica: Top Five Live Performances

Metallica have just released some footage from the upcoming Through The Never film. The clip of Master of Puppets gives us a taste of the story and also a glimpse of the incredible stage set the band have pulled together from over the years.

You can say what you like about Metallica, but you can’t deny this performance wasn’t solid as fuck. This led us on to think about the truly great Metallica performances. As time this week has been spent preparing for various interviews, it makes sense to do another “list” post. Last time we talked about some of the greatest beards in metal, this time we tackle the subject of the top five Metallica performances. Sure, some of these are predictable, hell, probably all of them; but a legendary show is legendary for a reason. A point I should make, I’m not including stuff like Cliff Burton’s final show with the band, while that was certainly an important moment in their history, we’re purely looking at performance here.

The Unforgiven – San Diego 1992

This might be a strange one to include, but there are so many bands who can’t continue the momentum when the slow song appears in the set. This flawless rendition of The Unforgiven shows Metallica laughing off that issue. The only down side of this video is the “in the round” stage doesn’t leave a lot of room for the crowd to appear. This also wets our appetites for a burst of heaviness. And when I say burst, pretty much constant.

The Call Of Ktulu – S&M

The Call Of Ktulu already had an uneasy vibe on the album. With the addition of strings it turns it downright sinister. The additional layers give this song an incredible extra dimension that can’t be replicated again (unless they pull out the orchestra again).

Fight Fire With Fire – Quebec City (and other locations) 1986

This particular video was recorded shortly after Newsted joined Metallica. We all know the sad events that preceded his joining and know that this was an incredibly rough time for the band. The loss of a member and friend in such a horrible way may have been what gave the band this incredible energy level to fire through Fight Fire With Fire with such ferocity. Other videos from this time period paint the same picture. A band out to prove they aren’t done at the same time as feeling god knows what over the death of their friend.  It’s a bit of a bittersweet performance because of this, but deserves a spot.

Master of Puppets – Seattle 1989

This is one of those shows I would gladly give my right testicle to have been at. The crowd is so packed round the arena they look like an organic bowl of flesh climbing the walls and lining the floor (that may not have been the most appealing description ever). With Lady Justice hovering behind the band they tear through Puppets like it’s the last time they’ll play it. The entire show is well worth buying on DVD, or at least watching on Youtube. Whiplash is another special moment from this show, and Blackened could compete, but Puppets wins the day.

Creeping Death – Moscow 1991.

For me, it just doesn’t get better than this. Whenever I hit play on this video I have to full screen it for the duration. The energy levels are just unreal. The reported size of the crowd ranges from the hundreds of thousands into a million plus. Instead of safety barricades, the crowd was held back by military personal, helicopters swooped low over the crowd who stretched as far as the eye could see and most importantly, the show was free; it was offered as a gift to the youth after the USSR crumbled.

All these reasons make for a very intense atmosphere even before a band like Metallica took to the stage. We also can’t forget this wasn’t a Metallica show; they were during the day, sandwiched between Pantera and AC/DC. There’s nothing not intense about this video, the audio surely can’t do justice to that amount of people all screaming DIE in unison after so many years of bullshit. The band themselves are on top form, Hetfield at time looks like he’s about to bite the microphone off the stand and just shout the vocals while Lars is about ready to smash the drum kit into tiny pieces. This is definitely the highlight of Metallica’s stage career in my opinion.


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