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Metallica, Lamb Of God and Volbeat in Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Friday, December 11, 2009 @ 9:23 AM


Scotiabank Place, Ottawa

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Here's a review to make up for the 2005 show I missed on account of language testing and just plain not wanting to sit through then-opening band Godsmack’s set that day. And unlike the review that did make the news the day after in the local press, I know enough to tell the difference between Kirk Hammett and Rik Emmett.

‘Twas a balmy early November and having forsaken going by bus to get to the concert venue (still in out-of-the-way Kanata) I hitched a ride with a friend who was going in the same direction as I was but to do some inspecting of a renovation project he did hoping to beat the rush hour as well as the throng of people who also had the same idea as we did in leaving early to arrive to the show on time. After close to 90 minutes of freeway gridlock and passing the time listening to the radio and guessing whether any of the 80’s catalogue was going to be requested let alone played (“One” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” in case you were wondering), we arrived a half hour before the show started.

Even more astonishing than having beat most of the 19,000-plus sold-out crowd to Scotiabank Place was that Volbeat decided to open the show ten minutes before schedule. I was familiar with their music albeit through hearsay and a couple of listens of their songs on their MySpace page. Pretty good jams, which often reminded me of what Social Distortion would sound like if they had relocated to Gothenburg to capitalize on In Flames’ early sound (and yes, I’m aware that Gothenburg is in Sweden whereas Volbeat are from Denmark, thanks) and with their latest disc Guitar Gangsters And Cadillac Blood getting lots of attention particularly from Lars Ulrich who personally handpicked the band as one of the opening acts for this North American tour as well as the European tour that would follow, Volbeat stand to be one of this year’s breakthrough metal bands of 2009. Granted, the venue was just over half full when they took the stage and proceeded to work over the early arrivals with their distinct mix of raw-sounding metal and even rawer-sounding punk and traditional rockabilly influences, with frontman/guitarist Michael Poulsen asking the crowd if they were ready for some rock ‘n roll that evening before launching into some of their earlier material such as “Sad Man’s Tongue” and “Caroline Leaving” but they did get a good vibe from the crowd. That vibe only got better when the setlist went on to include recent material such as the baritone-like vocal delivery of “Hallelujah Goat”, “Still Counting” and a Misfits cover that sounded either like “Where Eagles Dare” or “Hatebreeders” before ending with the album’s title track coupled with a hurried but very precise version of Slayer’s “Raining Blood” which sounded at least three times faster than the original. A highly recommended live band to watch even if they tend to come across as being almost too polite to be in metal. But hallelujah to Volbeat if that’s their only flaw.

http://www.myspace.com/volbeat

Co-headliners Lamb Of God are, in contrast, a rather different beast than Volbeat when it comes to warming up a crowd; whereas Volbeat tend to back up their sounds with a dark yet placid demeanor, the five-piece Richmond, Virginia death metal dealers are indisputably very in-your-face and set to unravel in a moment of unrehearsed chaos once they storm that stage. And while long-maned frontman Randy Blythe tends to drop the F bomb often enough that it sounds like a cultural dialect the unbridled fury and the passion of playing live drives both the attitude and the music. This being my first time seeing LOG as well as the band’s first visit to Ottawa the atmosphere in the audience was ripe for aggression. Circle pits started taking shape barely a quarter of the way into the opening number “Hourglass” and never let up even when Randy was addressing the audience and there wasn’t any music being played to mosh to. Throughout both the newer material such as “Set To Fail” and “Dead Seeds” as well as the classics like “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For”, “Laid To Rest” and the closing number “Redneck” the crowd left little doubt in Randy’s mind that we had, in his words, kicked Quebec City’s ass from the night before. This, needless to say, got the best response from the audience mostly because of the rivalry that’s been ongoing between Ottawa and many cities and small towns in Quebec that always seemed to get the better tours over us for years. Hopefully this leads to more invitations (motherfuckin’ or otherwise) for Lamb Of God to play our fair city in the near future. Comparing our crowd response to Quebec City’s, it’s the only one they will ever need.

http://www.myspace.com/lambofgod
http://www.lamb-of-god.com

With the lights dimming, the 5 giant coffins hovering over the drumkit and the first chords of Saxon’s “Heavy Metal Thunder” blaring over the sound system (and the song itself became the headline of the local review of the show the next day in an awesome turn of events though I doubt that people would’ve caught the reference let alone know who Saxon are) and it’s time to binge and purge as headliners Metallica take the stage to rapturous applause – well, really, lots of shouting and the flashing of devil horns and digital cameras but that still counts as rapturous applause nonetheless. Granted, their profile’s been taking a brutal flogging over the past decade or so ranging from their PR fallout from Napster, the public fallout from Some Kind Of Monster which saw the band members undergoing therapy and the fact that Death Magnetic is really their first truly great album in at least two decades but putting these issues behind them and just simply playing is why Metallica can still command an audience after all these years.

In fact, so confident as Metallica were in the reception they’d be getting from the crowd that instead of opening with any of their best-known songs they kicked off with “That Was Just Your Life” and following it up with “End Of The Line” from Death Magnetic and the whole building still erupted in cheers and chants of “FUCKING MetallicaAAAA!!!!” as if the show had opened with “Metal Militia” instead. For the next 90 minutes Metallica’s sojourn into their catalogue both past and present included everything that wasn’t off of St. Anger and that suited both the band and crowd well. Frontman James Hetfield went out of his way to ensure that the crowd “was feeling bad, because it makes us feel good” and with Kirk, Lars and new bassist Rob Trujillo proceeded to jam through classics like “Creeping Death” and “Fade To Black” and the not-quite-yet-classics like “Fuel” and “Sad But True”. And whether you’ve heard more “Mandatory Metallica” moments on the radio than you’d care to admit credit still has to go to the band in attempting to make the songs visually if not more aurally exciting; take their performance of “One”, for example, in which the exploding landmine sequence in the song is replicated in the intro with massive columns of flames from the pyrotechnics set (and the last time I saw Metallica play that song live was in Saskatoon in 1997 in which I had sat too close to the pyro, leaving me deaf for almost a week); “Cyanide” saw the band playing in a haze of green light; Kirk Hammett serenaded the crowd with his rendition of the Scorpions’ “Sails Of Charon” before him and the rest of the band kicked into “Battery” although why they’d used a programmed recording of the intro instead of actually playing it themselves is questionable; and the closing number “Seek And Destroy” featured an avalanche of life-sized black beach balls tumbling on the audience.

After the concert and cramped in a chartered city bus that was officially dubbed the Metallica Bus the topics pertaining to tonight’s show ranged from what songs should’ve made the evening’s setlist (with me being partial to “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and “Disposable Heroes” in my humble opinion) to whether Lars’ drumming was in time for a change, whether Rob Trujillo’s infamous crab walk across the stage didn’t make him look any more or any less silly from time to time especially during “Master Of Puppets” and whether James’ singing had finally returned to the mighty growl of the past. And we also ridiculed anyone who actually paid money for St. Anger while inhaling the contents of a few joints that were lit up on the bus ride home. The mood was jovial, high-spirited and for many it was a disappointment when their stop came up and the ride was over.

And that was Metallica’s effect on over 19,000 people that night – making sure that everyone that was feeling bad as they came into Scotiabank came out feeling good. They really did go above and beyond the call of duty this time around in connecting 100% with their audience.

Truly deadly and magnetic.

http://www.myspace.com/Metallica
http://www.Metallica.com

Setlist:

  • “That Was Just Your Life”
  • “The End Of The Line”
  • “Creeping Death”
  • “Fuel”
  • “Fade To Black”
  • “Broken, Beat And Scarred”
  • “Cyanide”
  • “Sad But True”
  • “One”
  • “All Nightmare Long”
  • “The Day That Never Comes”
  • “Master Of Puppets”
  • “Battery”
  • “Nothing Else Matters”
  • “Enter Sandman”
  • Encore
  • “Last Caress”
  • “Motorbreath”
  • “Seek And Destroy”
Photos Coming!



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