Metallica makes it difficult, and the fans love it

April 02, 1992|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

LARGO -- Few rock bands expect as much as Metallica demands of its audience.

Other acts go out of their way to make it easy on their fans -- playing only the most familiar material, for example, or carefully teaching the words before asking for a sing-along.

Not Metallica, though. In addition to feeling free to dredge up almost anything in its back catalog, this heaviest of heavy metal quartets takes it for granted that its crowd will know the words to everything.

Arrogant? Maybe. Presumptuous? Sure. But at a Metallica concert, you get back what you put in. And those fans who gave their all at the Capital Centre last night got back one of the most energetic rock 'n' roll experiences in months.

This, after all, is one of the most physical bands in rock, an ensemble whose high-energy rhythm work pumps enough power into a crowd to make even the most mild-mannered fan punch the air with the music.

And Metallica emphasized that strength from the start. Opening with the dark, driving "Enter Sandman," the group steadily built momentum, using the song's melodic tension to bring each chorus to its climax.

But its final chords proved to be really the first plateau, as the band subsequently exploded into the full-throttle thrash of "To Live Is to Die," an adrenalized rave-up that had the whole of the capacity crowd on its feet and cheering. It was so invigorating, in fact, that James Hetfield's mid-song chant of "Die! Die! Die!" had the audience happily yelling along.

Granted, a rock 'n' roll death chant may not be everyone's cup of tea, but such was the persuasive power of this band that not only did it seem appropriate at the time but it frankly felt like fun. Some of that stems from the fact that almost any group chant can be a kick (there was another, less-printable one later in the evening).

But mostly, it reflects the truth that Metallica, for all its seeming intensity, is in actuality a fairly lighthearted group, as the clowning during Lars Ulrich's drum solo made plain.

Still, the guts of last night's show was the music, not the playing around, and Metallica was unstinting in its intensity on that front. From early classics like the hell-for-leather "Whiplash" to more recent fare like "The Unforgiven" and "Wherever I May Roam," Metallica never let up for an instant.

Neither did the fans, and that was all that mattered.

Metallica will play at the Capital Centre again this evening. Tickets were still available last night.

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