The Big 4 Win Big at Yankee Stadium (Review)

By Tina Benitez

There are a handful of epic concerts. The Beatles’ US arrival at Shea Stadium on August 15, 1965, just one year after the METS’ former home base first opened. There’s Queen’s momentous “Live at Wembley Stadium” on July 12, 1986. Billy Joel was the first artist to perform at Yankee Stadium in the nearly 70-year existence of the Bronx, NY ballpark on June 22, 1990. (U2, Pink Floyd would follow suit in the latter ’90s.) Today, September 14, 2011, has likely earned its place in the concert history books as the biggest night of hard rock at the New York stadium. Fans flooded in the standing room field and sealed in the terrace, grandstand, bleachers and beyond to witness the first-ever heavy metal concert at Yankee Stadium when the mostly Bronx-born Anthrax along with Megadeth, Slayer and headliners Metallica practically blew the roofs off the new house that Ruth originally built last night.

Appropriately fit for such an historic event, each band pulled out nearly 10 classics with the headliners heaving even more in their nearly two-hour set. Promptly opening the night, Anthrax started it all just after 4pm flipping through nine classics, including “Got the Time,” “Caught in a Mosh” and “I Am the Law.” Earlier in the day another historic event took place when Bronx Borough president Ruben Diaz named September 14 Anthrax Day—for the band, who have three members, drummer Charlie Benante, bassist Frank Bello and guitarist Rob Caggiano, that hail from the outer borough. Like clockwork, Megadeth continued to shake the stadium discharging some old and new with “Symphony of Destruction,” “Peace Sells,” closer “Holy Wars” and a track from their 12th studio album, Endgame, “Head Crusher.” Singer Dave Mustaine, who recently had neck surgery and wasn’t supposed to perform, still managed to shriek out lyrics in his unique way. In as top a form as they could be with Mustaine’s other physical therapy (arm) over the past few years, the band pleased thousands even if the stadium hadn’t yet reached its full capacity for the night. Despite more injuries via Slayer (singer Tom Araya’s back surgery last spring) and a flesh-eating disease (necrotizing fasciitis), which put the band’s long-time guitarist Jeff Hanneman out of commission this tour, their show went on with Exodus’ Gary Holt filling in the slot. Deafeningly pounding through 14 songs, anyone without ear plugs during Slayer’s set may have experienced some early ear ringing, or bleeding, with chanters like “Raining Blood,” “Hate Worldwide” and closer “Angel of Death.”

Araya spoke intermittently thanking the crowd for their presence and to recognize Anthrax’s earlier anointment in the Bronx before reminding the audience that Metallica were about to “lay waste to the area.”

No strangers to fantastical stage settings, even the excitement of Yankee Stadium took Metallica by surprise. Singer James Hetfield repeatedly told the audience he couldn’t believe he was there. Slightly humbled, the band’s excitement spilled into a lengthy, 18-song set. Metallica had a special night in store.

Opening with scenes from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” with Ennio Morricone’s score “The Ecstasy of Gold” playing loud, the band walked right into a set list of classics, including 1984’s “Creeping Death” from second album Ride the Lightning. Three more Lightning tracks would pop up, slit between some Master of the Puppets, …And Justice for All, Metallica, even Reload’s “Fuel” and two tracks from 2008’s Death Magnetic. Metallica work like a well-oiled machine. After all, when you have four bands that have been around 30 years on average (with the exception of Megadeth two years shy), no one should expect anything less. Appropriately reaching into the past, Metallica paid homage to late bassist Cliff Burton with Puppets instrumental “Orion.” “In our hearts, a spirit remains to Cliff Burton,” said Hetfield before moving into “One.”

An all-star metal cast came out in the end for an encore of a 1979 metal classic, Motörhead’s “Overkill,” with Hetfield incorporating his best Lemmy vocals with help from Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna fronting the rest of his band along with Holt and Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson. All mimicked a super group moment earlier in the week when members of Anthrax, Down’s Phil Anselmo (Pantera), Ellefson, drummer Mike Portnoy and others joined forces at the Best Buy Theater for a joint jam out during the Metal Masters Clinic. Following the ensemble up with Puppets’ “Battery,” Hetfield asked “New York do you need another song” as the band throttled into their only track from debut Kill ’Em All, “Seek & Destroy.”

—Tina Benitez

Metallica Set List
The Ecstasy of Gold (Intro)
Creeping Death
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Ride the Lightning
Fade to Black
All Nightmare Long
Sad But True
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Master of Puppets
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman

Overkill (featuring members of Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax and Exodus)
Seek & Destroy

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