Do you have trouble waking up in the morning? Any difficulties with the daily routine? Well, you’re not alone. I just turned 27 last month and heck, even I’m there. The body soreness getting out of bed, the late afternoon fatigue, the mental preparation to actually prepare myself a meal at the end of the day.
Now, after mustering the energy to complete those tasks, imagine having to play two hours of some of the heaviest rock songs put to tape, and imagine having to do that in front of over 70,000 diehard fans who will notice even the slightest of slip-ups.
I’m 27 and couldn’t fathom it, yet the crew from Metallica is doing it either in or approaching their 60s, making it look easy. The pure achievement of just making it to the stage last weekend to play their “M72 World Tour” at SoFi Stadium is extraordinary, and knocking it out of the park is even more heroic.
My personal heroes, Metallica is in a unique place entering their 5th decade of performing 7-minute scorchers of songs filled with complicated riffs and unmatched energy. They never needed to tour again, hitting every conceivable arena and even a few conceived just for them, such as their landmark concert in Antarctica. They’ve given more than enough to their fans over the years. Yet, ever the trailblazers, the “Four Horsemen’’ of metal music embarked on an ambitious stadium tour, laying claim as the hardest rockers to hit Los Angeles’ new mecca of entertainment.
Having the cache to headline not one, but two, SoFi shows is incredible enough. To add their unique flavor onto the weekend, the band declared the L.A. takeover “No Repeat Weekend,” splitting their incredible discography into two individual setlists. Recently, SwiftieMania embarked on a week-long stay at SoFi, with Taylor Swift playing an admittedly long and impressive setlist. However, how mad would a Swiftie be if they didn’t hear “Shake It Off” or “Anti-Hero” at their given show? There would be friendship bracelets chucked at the stage post-haste. In comparison, the “Metallica Family,” as it’s called, have been so loyal to the band that nobody batted an eye when the show I attended ended with “Master of Puppets” without massive hits like “One” and “Enter Sandman’’ afterwards.
That loyalty is what allowed the Swifties and the BeyHives of the world to take a back seat to the old timers for a weekend. No other rock band is performing to near-sellouts at football stadiums, certainly not one that hasn’t been a mainstream music force since the mid-90s. There was a significant boost in Metallica’s place in the zeitgeist last summer, after “Puppets” was featured in a pivotal “Stranger Things” scene, but that didn’t necessarily persuade new fans to check out the band. It was the same beer-swilling, loud-mouthed metalheads from the 80s, still going at it 40 years later just like their idols.
The group rewarded the loyalty with a face-melting collection of old and new tracks, kicking off the August 25 SoFi show with the dual threat of “Creeping Death” and “Harvester of Sorrow,” two 80s landmark metal tunes. To prove that your 60s can be just as energetic as your 20s with the right mindset, guitarist Kirk Hammett and bass player Rob Trujillo bounced around the circular stage to “72 Seasons” tracks like “Too Far Gone?” Drummer Lars Ulrich radiated childlike energy during songs like “The Memory Remains,” while frontman James Hetfield stalked the stage as the conductor of the chaos.
Hetfield’s calm demeanor and steely voice permeated SoFi during ballads like “The Day That Never Comes” and the mega-hit “Nothing Else Matters,” with the message of “trust in who we are” becoming ever more into focus as the night began to conclude. Metallica trusts who they are, that they were born to conquer the stage, and they were right. Us fans trust who we are, trust that the band won’t let us down even without the frills of a Swift show or a complete setlist. The mutual trust between band and fanbase ended in a beautiful symphony of heavy sounds piercing into the Inglewood evening sky.
Not bad for some guys in their golden years. Hopefully they can give me tips on getting out of bed next.