What defines Metallic, the heart of its proposal, is its aggressiveness. What made them bandaged from heavy metal the greatest in the world is their strength when it comes to overwhelming the listener, that innate ability they have always shown to wield whatever resources they have in the most powerful way. The football maxim says that attitude is not negotiated, and the idea applies here as well: there is no Metallica without the manifest intention of dominating the one in front, whether it’s a very old school bore or a neophyte approaching out of curiosity.
The problem is that playing live music that seeks to crush in each measure requires a very important physical and mental effort: for a little over an hour and a half the tension must be at its height, we cannot negotiate a ticket launched with blackmail. All the more so when this music is – for the most part – thrash: there you have to not only maintain the tension, but also the speed. All of this tends to go badly over time: the body and its ailments, but also the mind and its comfort, tend to transform brave young people into older adults. That was the question with Metallica heading into this show: Almost sixty years old and with the forced pandemic shutdown involved, would they be able to keep up the pace at one of their shows? Will we have to settle for a version of the most beastly band in the universe with the handbrake on? We had the answer as soon as the obligatory opening with “The Ecstasy of Gold” by Ennio Morricone passed: “Whiplash” by Kill them all (1983) opens the presentation of the quartet at the Campo Argentino de Polo, and is a statement of principles in terms of symbolic youth. A song from the first album (perhaps the only one in their repertoire that can surpass it in the task of referring to the first era is “Hit the Lights”, which they did in their 2017 show Lollapalooza) played with violence of a group that he still has everything to prove: it is hard to believe that the show of force at the very beginning was fortuitous.
It’s also worth conjecturing that the addition of Rob Trujillo has gained ten more years of validity: the bassist pushes through his stage presence and the gallop of his fingers, evident in the vertiginous “Fuel” (where the gigantic flames were seen for the first time in the scene and the mangrullo that adorned several of the songs) and in “Seek & Destroy”, another nod to those beginnings in which they redefined heavy music with the innocence of post-adolescence ( speaking of winks: the screens shown in this part of the concert a scan of the entrance to Monsters of Rock 1999, a festival they shared with Sepultura, Almafuerte and Catupecu Machu on the river yard) .
The first breath comes only with the tiresome passage of the intro of “One”, crossed with visuals (in an overwhelming HD that makes the screens of the other megabands look like living room televisions) which refer to the warrior imagery of the song. Of course, this break lasts exactly four and a half minutes, until Lars Ulrich’s double bass and his partner James Hetfield’s guitar become machine guns in unison to tell the story of a wounded soldier who lost all sensations but not consciousness. .
It also can’t be said that it’s easier to stay young and strong when you were worried at the time about getting your hands on a handful of infallible songs for live performances. This is the case of “Sad But True”, 50% terror and 50% fury, pure drama right down to the detail of the cut that leads to the solo. A few minor blunders on “The Unforgiven” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (were Hetfield’s guitars out of tune or was it a sound trap?) might suggest a loss of thread, but the expected “Creeping Death” and the “No Leaf Clover” surprise with its climates morriconescos put everything back in its place. From there to the end with “Master of Puppets”, which they interpret in long version (at one time they did it without the instrumental coda cheated by Cliff Burton).
The encores begin with Kirk Hammett’s greatest moment: unfairly left out in St. Anger (ignored from head to toe in this setlist, unsurprisingly; it’s rarer to see that DeathMagnetic 2008 suffers the same fate), the lead guitarist responds with two precise and fast solos on “Spit Out the Bone”. There is still time for “Nothing Else Matters”, impeccable but strangely placed in the show, with the public in full harangue. And there’s also a place for “Enter Sandman”, a milestone in the black scrapbook with a riff that other bands would mortgage their lives for.
Sixteen were the songs the band played to erase any hint of gentrification, fatigue or laziness. From what we have seen and heard, for the moment nothing indicates that they will calm down: now, as in 93, we leave their concerts exhausted and mobilized at the same time. It makes sense: it wouldn’t be Metallica if it wasn’t like that.