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Metallica rocks Peru to kick off World Magnetic Tour

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By Gonzalo Pérez

In Peru they say hot lemonade with a shot of pisco, the national liquor, will cure a throat-ache. That’s what fifty thousand Metallica fans, including myself, are doing this morning after two hours of singing and screaming at yesterday’s historic concert.

It was the first time Metallica played in Peru and the excitement was evident in the faces of the men and women of all ages that came from various parts of the country to experience the mega-concert. The feeling in the crowd was incredible. One could tell that in the 29 years that Metallica has been making music they have reached millions of people, and in different ways. Some were there to hear the global hits of the black album, like “Nothing Else Matters” or “Enter Sandman,” and others were there to go back in time to the early days of “Kill ‘Em All,” “Ride the Lightning” and “Master of Puppets.”

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Metallica played San Marcos University Stadium, Jan. 19, 2010. It was their first concert in Peru.
Photo courtesy Martin Ruiz, via Twitter.

Their performance began with “Creeping Death,” followed by “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and a set list that included songs from their eras. Like all Metallica shows, last night’s concert was full of energy. James Hetfield (vocals and guitar) maintained a constant dialogue with the audience that responded forcefully with yeahs, heys and song lyrics. The traditional chant that Peruvians use to receive all artists was presented yesterday to Metallica: “Oleee – ole – ole – oleee – Meta – llica” to which Hetfield responded by following the cheer with the exact notes on his guitar.

The sound was excellent and the guitar solos were heard clearly note by note, seen up close via the LED screen that covered the entire back wall of the stage.

This was a renewed Metallica that was coming back from a transition period where they lost a bass player, where Hetfield was slowly getting back his life at rehab, and when they tried new sounds in their St. Anger album.

In the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster, we witnessed a small argument between Kirk  Hammett (lead guitar) and other band members about including guitar solos in their songs. The “new sound” they were producing in albums like St. Anger left little space for the iconic thrash guitar solos of heavy metal songs. Before yesterday’s concert, I had the opportunity to attend the press conference and ask Metallica what the role of the guitar solo is in a thrash metal song. Hammett responded first. To him, the solo is a diversion from what’s going on in the rest of the song. “It doesn’t make it better, it doesn’t make it worse,” Hammett said. “That’s for the fans to figure out.”

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Metallica at the pre-concert press conference in Lima.
click to enlarge

James Hetfield added “I’ve done some solos too, by the way!” which generated some laughs and reminded us all of his melodic solos in songs like “Nothing Else Matters.” For Hetfield, “the role of the solo is to speak. It’s the guitar speaking; it has its own lyrics.”

In the new album, it looks like Kirk (and the fans) got their way. With a smile on his face Hammett announced that “there are guitar solos in the new album. They’re back!”

And that’s not the only thing that’s back. Their new album, Death Magnetic, brings Metallica back to who they were before at around the time of their And Justice For All album: seven-minute songs, powerful vocals, no effects on the drums, guitars tuned to E, and of course, a lot of attitude. The success of their new album was also evident at the concert as they played many songs including “That Was Just Your Life,” “The End of the Line” and “Cyanide” that were recognized and sung along by the crowd. With Rick Rubin as the producer of the album and the positive influence of new bass player Robert Trujillo, the band has renewed itself in a positive way.

So as we drink our lemonade and pisco to soothe our throats, I can suggest another remedy for the ringing in the ears, the head-banging-related whiplash and any other aches that could result from camping out in Av. Venezuela: Listen to some more of Metallica and let the adrenalin start to flow!

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