September 18, 2011

Concert Review: The Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax) at Yankee Stadium 9/14/11

All things considered the day started just like any other day. I woke, showered, had some breakfast and got on the computer for a little pre-work time. 8am rolled around and I left the house, headed for work. I arrived, got my computer turned on, checked my email and started the days work. Nothing unusual there, but there was something different about this particular day. You see, it was September 14th and that was the day that the Big 4 was happening at Yankee Stadium, and I was going! To say I was a little excited would be an understatement.

It is true that I had already seen the DVD release of the European show, where this first happened. It is also true that I had seen videos online of other stops and was well aware of the first show in the States that happened in California earlier this year. Still, this was Yankee Stadium! Plus, I was going to be there to witness it live as it happened. That is something you not be able to take from me. Maybe I am sounding a little over the top, but I think I am allowed.

Well, as noon rolled around, I changed and left work to go catch the train to the stadium. This is where the fun really begins. I arrived at the station with plenty of time to wait for the train, but there was not a single place to park! So, I pulled out of the station and headed north to the next stop, knowing full well that the train was coming towards me and I had little time to spare. I parked with 5 minutes to go, which is mot a lot of time of you see how long this lot is. I race walked through the lot and just as I finished paying for parking the train pulls up. I raced down the steps, through the tunnel under the tracks, up the other side, and onto the platform. I got on just as the doors closed, sat down and could not believe I was already dripping with swea and I haven't even gotten to the show yet.

I arrived at the stadium with plenty of time to spare. I made my way through security, picked up a Big 4 t-shirt and an Anthrax hat and made my way upstairs to my seat in section 422 just in time for Anthrax to begin as the clock approached 4.

The band roared onto the stage led by Joey Belladonna and Scott Ian. Their set opened with their latest single, "Fight 'em Til You Can't," from their long overdue new album, Worship Music. They followed this with "Got the Time" and the old school classic "Madhouse."

It was great hearing them live, they were, loud, heavy, and sounded fantastic. Whenever I think of Anthrax, I think of the Belladonna era and it is only fitting hat he is with the band when they do these Big 4 shows. He may not quite have the range he had back in the day, but he still sounds great. Then there is Scott Ian, you did not have to be too close to see him doing trademark stomps around the stage. Let us not forget the presence of Frank Bello, Charlie Benante, and the one piece not from he classic era, but still no slouch, Rob Caggiano.

I was sad when their set ended, it may have been 45 minutes, but it still felt way too short for the classics they have in their discography. I also felt sad that there were not more people there for them. Simply put, the true fans were there from start to finish.

Set List
1. Fight'Em Til You Can't
2. Got the Time
3. Madhouse
4. Caught in a Mosh
5. Antisocial
6. The Devil You Know
7. Indians
8. Metal Thrashing Mad
9. I Am the Law

Next up was Megadeth. What can be said about them that hasn't been said before? It is true their live show has been considered spotty over the years and it has always been more of the Dave Mustaine show than a band, but they have consistently turned out solid metal for decades. I will admit to bit of a lull in the late 1990s. Still, they brought their A game to bear in the Stadium. The band line up is strong with former Nevermore and Jag Panzer axeman Chris Broderick, Shawn Drover on drums, and co-founder David Ellefson on bass.

They opened with "Trust" and followed by a decent mix of tracks. However, much like Anthrax, there are so many more songs I would have loved to hear, but there only so much you can do when you are not the headliner and have time limitations. Still, however you want to look at it, they sounded really good, the riffs rocked and the solos screamed. Megadeth is one of those bands that deserves their status and we an thank the internal turmoil of early Metallica for it.

Their set even included a song fro their forthcoming album 13, but I did not catch the name of it. I came between "She Wolf" and " Headcrusher." They are not as lively a stage presence as Anthax, but the music does speak for itself.

Set List:
1. Trust
2. Hanger 18
3. She Wolf
4. new song, didn't catch the title
5. Headcrusher
6. A Tout Le Monde
7. Sweating Bullets
8. Symphony of Destruction
9. Peace Sells
10. Holy Wars

The third of the Big 4 to command the stage is probably the most no-nonsense group of the bunch. They are the band with a sound significantly rougher and rehire Han any of the other three acts and their formula for success has not changed much, if at all, since their inception. That band is none other than Slayer.

While Megadeth may not be one for a lot of stage movement, that goes doubly so for Slayer. These guys come out, take their positions and proceed to tear it up. Forget this changing guitars are tunings, Slayer needs them not. Give them their instruments and let them shred for as long as they would like. The crowd went nuts, multiple pits popped up around the general admission floor and here was no stopping them.

You can count them among the trend of bands not playing songs I want to hear, possibly victims of the non headlining time slot. Among the ones I would have liked are "Seasons in the Abyss," "Expendable Youth," and "World Painted Blood." I guess these things re bound to happen with any well liked band.

They were the most consistently heavy of the night. They took the stage and destroyed it with single minded intensity. Their one goal was to deliver on what Slayer has always done. With a set that included the likes of "Post Mortem," "War Ensemble," "Dead Skin Mask," and "South of Heaven" there was little choice but have your skull pounded in.

It should also be noted that Jeff Hanneman is still suffering health issues and Gary Holt of Exodus was filling in for him, and doing so admirably. His blood spattered looking guitar was pretty awesome too.

Set List:
1. Disciple
2. Post Mortem
3. Hate Worldwide
4. War Ensemble
5. Psychopathy Red
6. Mandatory Suicide
7. Chemical Warfare
8. Dead Skin Mask
9. Snuff
10. South of Heaven
11. Raining Blood
12. Black Magic
13. Angel of Death

As the 9pm hour approached it was nearly time for the evening's main event. It was also the band I was least interested in, and the only one of the four I had never seen lie before. I know that sounds a little odd. While I adore much of Metallica's output, there has been a certain shift in what the do that has been going on for many years, they may play a lot of those old classics, but they are not the same bad they were in the 1980's, much moreso than the other three bands. Plus, I have checked some of those videos of recent live performances and I really don't care for how Hetfield's voice sounds. So, while I wanted to see them, I was a little leery of what it may sound like.

Well, consider me as being partially won back over. Simply put, Metallica as electric. Ys, the vocals were probably the weakest part of the performance, they still sounded great. They really put on a phenomenal show complete with fireworks and pyro that I have never experienced live before.

On top of sounding great and the ancillary pieces of the performance, they managed to surprise with he set lis as well. They pulled such tracks as "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)," "Ride the Lightning," and possibly the biggest surprise of the night being the instrumental "Orion." It was a great collection of songs and the lively crowd certainly helped drive it Home.

Just like the other Big 4 shows, the set included a jam with members of all the other bands. They did change this up too, where they usually play "Am I Evil?" they instead pulled out Motorhead's "Overkill." it was loud and fun. I think I saw everyone but Dave Mustaine, Tom Araya, and Chris Broderick out there.

When the jam was done, we got two more Metallica songs, including another surprise with "Battery." Overall, they were great. They were all up on a big stage and they delivered, of that there is no doubt.

Set List:
1. Creeping Death
2. For Whom the Bell Tolls
3. Fuel
4. Ride the Lightning
5. Fade to Black
6. Cyanide
7. All Nightmare Long
8. Sad But True
9. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
10. Orion
11. One
12. Master of Puppets
13. Blackened
14. Nothing Else Matters
15. Enter Sandman
16. Overkill (Motorhead Cover w/ Big 4)
17. Battery
18. Seek and Destroy

As the last notes rang out and the house lights came up, came time for the sad fact that the show was over and while we did not have to go home, we couldn't stay there. Everyone began moving for the exit ramps, down the stairs and into the street. A mass of head banging humanity, penguin walking for their preferred mode of transportation, sidestepping the drunk, and attempting to maintain forward momentum.

I eventually made it back to the train platform where my train was not readily available. It took awhile, but I eventually confirmed there was a through train and no transfer was needed. I got on the train and settled in for the ride home. I made it home and was in bed around two and dreading the fact that I would only get a few hours sleep before getting up to start the work day all over again, but that is a story for another time...

Visit my YouTube channel to see some videos from the show.

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