Metallica at Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Florida – November 4, 2021
As live music started returning in 2021, it felt like one of the last bands to return to the stage was Metallica. After a year of festival dates was canceled in 2020, they started making some of those up this fall. In between these large festivals, they announced one show that was more unique – a headlining show at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida.
Hard Rock Live is located at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, just outside of Fort Lauderdale. This casino is known for it’s recent hotel addition, “The Guitar Hotel,” a building that is literally shaped like a giant guitar, that you can see for miles. The venue, Hard Rock Live, is a roughly 7,000 seat theater. The bands they bring in, such as Metallica, recently Guns n’ Roses, and soon The Rolling Stones, typically play MUCH larger capacity places. These intimate shows make for very special performances.
Though the venue is small, the stage is not. They clearly designed this theater so bands can route their way through while on a larger tour, without needing a smaller stage plot for one show. The stage setup Metallica played with was the full setup they are using in stadiums and festivals on this tour, giant screens, pyrotechnics, and all!
Until the day before, it was believed Metallica was the only performer of the night, however Florida natives Trivium were added as an opening act at the last second. Just last month, Trivium released their tenth album, In the Court of the Dragon, and tonight they debuted the song “Like a Sword Over Damocles” from it. With the exception of that addition, their 8 song set matched what they were playing this summer on The Metal Tour of the Year with Lamb of God and Megadeth. The tight 45 minute set worked then, and it worked now.
Trivum’s stage setup was fairly barebones, so the turn around was quick, and before you know it, “The Ecstasy of Gold” was playing, and Metallica hit the stage.
Something new Metallica has been doing this year is opening with the song “Whiplash,” off their debut album Kill ’em All. Personally, I think it’s a great opener, and really gets the crowd going. To keep with the 1981 vibe, frontman James Hetfield was playing a white Electra Flying V, just as he did in those days. Without taking a break, they went into the title track from Ride the Lightning, followed by “Harvester of Sorrow.”
From the moment they came out, the band looked and sounded great. In late 2019, Hetfield went into rehab, causing them to cancel their Australian tour. The Hetfield we saw tonight looked noticeably happier and healthier than he did at the S&M2 performances in 2019. It was great to see the band firing on all cylinders.
At some of the festival appearances, the band is playing The Black Album, which is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary, in it’s entirety. While they didn’t play it tonight, they did play “Through the Never,” a song they’ve played fewer than 50 times since the original Black Album tour ended.
As I mentioned earlier, despite the smaller venue, the band had their full stadium pyro show on display. One great example of this was “Moth Into Flame,” off their last album, 2016’s Hardwired… to Self Destruct.” Throughout the entirety of the song, flames go running along a track on the rear of the stage, looking like steam coming from a train engine, and then punctuated with large jets of flames on significant hits in the song. In such a small room, those flames got very toasty!
The one criticism of the night is that post-Covid, Metallica seems to be playing slightly shorter sets than they had been before, with a 16-song setlist, rather than the 18-song standard they had previously. The show was so great, it’s hard not to want 2 more songs! Drummer Lars Ulrich seems like he may be playing to a click track these days, as the tempos were very consistent, and much closer to studio tempos, and not quite as fast as they may have been played before. For songs like “Harvester of Sorrow” and “Sad But True,” this gave their beats a groove that was extra heavy.
Ride the Lightning
Harvester of Sorrow
Seek & Destroy
Through the Never
Sad but True
Moth Into Flame
No Leaf Clover
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Master of Puppets
Nothing Else Matters