By Steve Morse, Globe Staff, 7/8/2003
Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe.
FOXBOROUGH -- With fans baking in the hot sun, the Summer Sanitarium Tour was a supreme endurance test. Some fans no doubt needed a sanitarium after experiencing it, as screaming, unchained rock was the order of the day, though that is exactly what most had come for on the holiday weekend.
Metallica was back in town on Sunday, slamming out a set that sounded like sonic booms spreading through Foxborough. The band topped this survival-of-the-fittest, heavy-metal, eight-hour, five-band bill with renewed passion, with singer James Hetfield having just survived a bout with a drug-rehabilitation clinic.
''We've missed you!'' Hetfield told the 50,000 fist-waving fans at Gillette Stadium, adding that the group was ''gratified to be up onstage doing what we do best -- and that's delivering the goods to you.''
The opening acts took turns praising Metallica (''We're all here for a reason -- to see the greatest band in the world,'' Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst told the crowd), but Metallica didn't need pep talks. The band's set was a full-blown eruption, from the jump-starting ''Battery'' and ''Master of Puppets'' (''Obey no master!'' Hetfield screamed), through pounding new songs such as ''Frantic'' and ''St. Anger,'' with Hetfield shrieking, ''I need to set my anger free.''
It was freed, all right, through an astonishing stage production (an industrial-looking cavern with strobe lights firing off everywhere) and impeccable stadium sound that amplified every frantic breath and snapping guitar burst from Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, along with crackling fusillades from drummer Lars Ulrich and new bassist Rob Trujillo, who played in an odd, bent-over crouch like a praying mantis about to strike. Older Metallica classics such as ''Harvester of Sorrow'' and ''For Whom the Bell Tolls'' completed the package, as did fireworks during the encore.
Limp Bizkit rocked just before Metallica -- and stoked the hedonistic spirit as only Durst can. He focused on older songs (Bizkit won't have a new album out until the fall), but he unleashed his anger on ''Break Stuff'' and ''My Way or the Highway,'' adding a Metallica cover (''Sanitarium'') and dedicating the Who's anthem of anguish, ''Behind Blue Eyes,'' to the Red Sox.
Bizkit's set was marred by some security guards tackling a few fans who had jumped over barricades to make it to the floor. Maybe they were taking too seriously Durst's comment to fans that ''if you have all that hate up inside, you got to let that hate fly.'' Luckily, there was only momentary chaos, and Durst was actually a calming force when he snuck to the back of the stadium and popped up amid the back rows, singing to fans who suddenly had a front and center view.
The other opening acts got things off to a stirring start despite the crushing afternoon heat. Mudvayne, sans makeup this time in a nod to the band Kiss when it first shelved its signature look, scored with a competent, leather-lunged set at 3 p.m. when the stadium was mostly empty.
But it took the California-based Deftones to really reach the guts of the all-ages audience, hitting it with a versatile, art-metal attack led by singer Chino Moreno.
The crowd was probably too paralyzed by the heat to mosh at this point (it moshed more to Linkin Park), but Moreno did a little crowd-surfing by himself. He jumped into outstretched hands on the stadium floor during the antsy ''My Own Summer (Shove It).'' He also assisted in a ''Yankees suck'' chant that was a brainless crowd-pleaser, though he recouped with the thunderous new hit ''Minerva'' and a climactic ''Seven Words,'' which brought the dehydrated crowd to life. It was pleasing to see how well the band translated to a stadium setting, given that it had the most subtle musical arrangements in the show.
Linkin Park followed with a bass-heavy, club-savvy set that shook eardrums with a mix of metal sung by Chester Bennington and rap from MC Mike Shinoda. The set roared off the launch pad with ''Don't Stay'' (with Bennington belting, ''Sometimes I need to remember just to breathe'') and recent hit ''Somewhere I Belong,'' a slice of hope from this once anger-mired band: ''I want to heal, I want to feel,'' sang Bennington.
Linkin Park dipped, however, with some of the overworked production numbers from its ''Reanimation'' album. The group was much better on tunes from its latest CD, ''Meteora,'' in particular ''Faint'' and ''Figure.09.'' And it thanked Metallica profusely for the chance to join the tour, though it dissed some fans for not listening enough to the other bands.
Summer Sanitarium Tour
With: Metallica, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, and Mudvayne.
At: Gillette Stadium, Sunday