Metallica & Orchestra of St. Luke's 11/23/99


Wow, wow, wow.

What an amazing show last night in Madison Square Garden. This was the fourth and final Metallica performance with an orchestra and it was to celebrate the release of the CD and home video of "S&M", which documents the first symphony shows with the San Francisco Symphony last April.

This was the most energetic and loudest crowd I've ever been a part of. So loud in fact that during the first four or five songs you often couldn't here Metallica or the orchestra.  It took some learning by the crowd to sing along quietly and some tweaking by the sound crew to get everything just right. Highlights included "Fuel" - the first song where the band's volume was increased, the new tune "No Leaf Clover", "Hero of The Day" - properly subdues and beautiful and an epic rendition of "Bleeding Me". By the second set, after some excellent half time adjustments, the sound was perfect. Both band and orchestra were properly loud and it was magic. It seemed like everyone one of the 17,000 plus fans were one their feet, fists in air, screaming every word of every song. This was no toned down affair - it was full tilt Metallica and there just happened to be a few dozen extra folks on stage.

"For Whom The Bell Tolls" was absolutely awe inspiring. This song should always be played with 78 more musicians backing up Metallica. The night closed with an amazing string of "Where I May Roam", "The Outlaw Torn", "Sad But True", "One", "Enter Sandman" and "Battery".

I always knew the combination of Metallica and a symphony would be fantastic. But live, it was just beyond words. This was quite possibly the best Metallica performance I've seen - perhaps even best concert period.

If such a show happens again -- run to it.     Check out for more.

November 24, 1999 - NY TIMES

Metallica Performs With Orchestra

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP)-- Roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news!

Heavy metal giants Metallica joined forces with New York City's Orchestra of St. Lukes Tuesday night to perform the band's thundering repertoire.

The Madison Square Garden concert, timed with the release of Metallica's live album, ``S&M,'' was an encore event to the band's performance in April with the San Francisco Symphony. Michael Kamen, who conducted the April show, also conducted at Madison Square Garden.

``The San Francisco event was such a great challenge and so creatively rewarding, we thought we wanted to give it another shot on the East Coast,'' said the band's drummer, Lars Ulrich, before Tuesday's show.

From the moment the house lights dimmed and Kamen appeared on stage, the crowd went into a frenzy.

The first selection performed was ``Call of Ktulu,'' a dramatic instrumental from the band's second album, ``Ride the Lightning.'' As the Symphony played the first few bars alone, singer/guitarist James Hetfield started plucking the familiar arpeggios of the song. And one by one, each band member appeared on stage.

Without missing a cue, they jumped into the title track of their third album, ``Master of Puppets.'' At that point the crowd was so loud you could barely hear the performance.

As the noise level of the crowd subsided, the different instruments from the symphony blended beautifully with the crunch of Metallica's trademark sound.

A highlight of this unusual combination was ``Memory Remains,'' in which the orchestra played a straightforward classical piece as Metallica played its ferocious power chords.

During the fifteen minute intermission, fans passed the time by reading the program handed to them on the way into the arena and talking on cell phones, a rare sight to see at any heavy metal concert.

When the lights dimmed again for the second half, Kamen jokingly scolded lead guitarist Kirk Hammett for starting the intro of ``Nothing Else Matters'' before his cue. Hammett sheepishly grinned and played it again -- perfectly.

One of the most dramatic songs of the night was the classic ``For Whom the Bell Tolls,'' in which you could tell the symphony felt comfortable on stage and Metallica felt comfortable having it there.

Metallica again proved that it can do whatever it wants and never seems to compromise what the band believes in.

This review is from the NY Post:

Symphony For The Devil
Metallica teams with St. Luke's Orchestra for a classic gig

Roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news: Metallica toppled the golden wall of classical music this week with a a heavy metal battering ram.

It happened at Madison Square Garden, where the classical longhairs of the St. Luke's Orchestra banged heads with Metallica in a show Tuesday night that will be talked about for years in barrooms and music-theory classes.
Right from the start, it was clear that this concert would be unlike anything in music today-or yesterday.
The symphony readied, adjusting its tuning. The conductor, Michael Kamen, then tapped his baton, first to get the attention of the tightly wound St. Luke's Orchestra, then to set time for the opener, "Ecstasy of Gold."
That tune, from the flim "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"- Metallica's longtime entrance number-came to life with a sweep og Kamen's hand, igniting the audience's fuse.

Out of their seats they came, arms extended in a metal-music, devil-finger salute. For a moment the crowd actually drowned out the 78 piece orchestra with a wave of rabid cheers.
That's how the table was set for this bold, often beautiful concert. It wasn't your typical rock show, and Metallica isn't your usual thrash-'n-thrash band. This one night event illustrated that even though music may seem like it's in constant revolution, the reality is evolution.

The orchestra appeared in formal black, while the Metallica boys came on stage in casual black, wasting no time strutting their stuff in the night's true opener, "The Call of Ktulu."
One might have expected the orchestra to lay the foundation for this 10-minute-plus instrumental. But it was the other was around.

Thunder-of-the-gods drummer Lars Ulrich and his partner in beat, bassist Jason Newsted, were the twin hearts of "Ktulu", while Kamen's crew provided the surging top end, with swirling strings and muted horns.
Metallica vocalist James Hetfield strummed some guitar, but it was ax-ace Kirk Hammett who ultimately took the piece home with a fast and fluid six-string electric-guitar solo that had enough velocity and virtuosity to impress even the orchestra's clutch of violinists.

At a Metallica concert-with or without an orchestra-that's the way it is. This is a band of accomplished musicians, not just a group of guys backing a singer. And there was a democratic philosophy at work, in which the guest artists from St. Luke's were accorded equal rights under the lights.

Considering that the songs were varied and the music was retooled, the patrons-freaks, geeks, metal chicks, and even the Boston chapter of the Hell's Angels-all seemed to appreciate what became a very successful experiment.

Goat-bearded Hetfield, a low-key frontman, was good on a few of the opening set's songs. But it was on "Master of Puppets" where he really made his mark. He incited the 19,000 fans to chant "Master, Master" with clench-fisted passion as the orchestra's and band's contributions dovetailed nicely.

The goth-metal assault, with a horror-show symphonic arrangement, made the tune's eerie elements boil to the surface, lending a bloodthirsty craziness to "Puppets", which was thrilling and revolting at the same time.
The second half of this 20-song concert was more relaxed than the first. "Human" was terrific, and the entire ensemble's performance of "Enter Sandman" was possibly that tune's definitive rendition.

Metallica members also freely wandered into and through the sections of the orchestra during the second half. At one point, you couldn't find Hetfield as he sang. He was completely camouflaged in the in the sea of black tuxedos , nestled among the brass blowers.

This may not be the way you'd want your rock every time, but on a night when the rules were broken, the music was sweet.


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