Metallica cut off their performance of the ballad “Fade to Black” just before their bridge on Friday night, as frontman James Hetfield walked over to his vintage microphone and raised his hand.
“This song is for anyone who struggles,” Hetfield told the Allegiant Stadium crowd, “because we all do. We all struggle, and if you think you’re the only one, that’s a lie You can talk to your friends Talk to someone, because you are not alone.
The words took on extra power from Hetfield, who publicly struggled with alcohol addiction. He returned to rehab in late 2019, forcing the cancellation of Metallica’s last pre-pandemic tour.
The 58-year-old frontman looked healthy and sounded upbeat during the metal quartet’s first performance in 2022, stalking every corner of the stage throughout a two-hour set and exuding warmth during frequent speeches to the crowd.
That commitment added weight to Metallica’s first stop in Las Vegas since November 2018, even beyond that created by the massive surroundings.
Metallica has always had close ties with the Raiders – Hetfield is a die-hard fan – with the band going so far as to play tailgate parties in the parking lot of Oakland Coliseum before games there. The band might have been the most natural gig for the football franchise’s new 65,000-seat venue, and a lock to play in the blacked-out ‘Death Star’ in the first year it has hosted concerts.
Metallica’s Allegiant date is one of only three scheduled non-festival performances in North America in 2022, and the band’s fan base jumped at the chance to catch the band in the new environment. The cheapest admission price at secondary ticket sites was $160 minutes before the show started.
Though some of Allegiant’s other gigs struggled with sound, the sound was crystal clear on Friday, even during less-than-memorable backing sets by young retro rockers Greta Van Fleet and radio-compatible metalcore act Ice Nine Kills satellite. Opening for Metallica is often seen as a thankless task, given the uncompromising nature of their fans, but both bands received a solid response.
Ice Nine Kills seemed to win over some of the audience with a high production value that included masks to accompany the band’s horror-themed songs and an actress recreating a scene from The Exorcist. Still, the theatrics couldn’t quite overcome the sickening pop-punk choruses and generic breakdowns of Ice Nine Kills.
Greta Van Fleet hit a few highs during guitarist Jake Kiszka’s jam, but was otherwise as steep as their revamped 1960s songs.
Metallica weren’t technically perfect either, grappling with the blistering pace of the raging opener “Whiplash” from the 1983 debut LP. Kill them all and stumbling with the timing of the mid-series “Wherever I May Roam” number from the self-titled 1991 noir album. But a key part of the band’s live charm is knowing that each performance will feel authentic without the crutch of a track. accompanying, so it’s forgivable.
Metallica received such a strong response from “Ride the Lightning” and “Seek and Destroy”, Hetfield joked that the band had to “play the one you don’t like”. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and drummer Lars Ulrich then comically burst into a snippet of “Escape,” widely regarded as the weakest track of 1984. ride the lightning.
Unlike a 2018 stop at T-Mobile Arena, Metallica mostly stuck to older material at Allegiant. The only new song the group performed on Friday was their best song under 24 – 2016’s ‘Moth Into Flame’ Wired… to self-destruct. “It’s a song about fame,” Hetfield said as he introduced it. “I don’t know if anyone knows about this in this town, but it might bother you. It’s another drug.
Vegas-centric visuals then lit up the screens behind the band during the song, including classic neon signs from Stardust, Binion’s Horseshoe, Flamingo and Glitter Gulch. On their return to the road and their first visit to Allegant Stadium, Metallica made the moment meaningful.
“Ride the Lightning”
“Search and Destroy”
“Sad but true”
“Moth in Flame”
“Wherever I May Wander”
“For Whom the Bell Tolls”
“Fade to black”
“Nothing else matters”