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Lamb Of God and Metallica at Madison Square Garden, November 14th, 2009: Exit Sign

In the early 1990s I was dating a girl named Julie and during the break up Julie said “You don’t give enough of yourself”. And I replied “I give you everything I am, what more do you want me to give?” The argument comes to mind because it completely reflects my feelings about Metallica last night at MSG. They give everything and it isn’t enough. Twelve years at the same venue it was.

Opening act Lamb Of God gave enough. To an already packed out house the band were huge . Most music is circular, -it’s about a mathematical figure, filled with the resolution of a melodic chord sequence. Lamb Of God are like a certain type of jazz, they are like Miles Davis at his rockiest, and they are performing linear riff sequence that spark in unison or like skron. there is no melodic line and it is all repition. The lead singer sounds like he’s gargling razor blades and a guitar only emerge from the mix once or twice and then for only ten seconds. “Walk With Me” has the audience somewhere between screaming anc chanting at one. Lamb Of God exemplify everything that is great about metal today.

Lamb Of God and Metallica are a strictly male aesthetic: if there is a metal it is silver, if there is a shape it is a rectangle, if there is a human sound it is not the bloody nose, it is not the mushiness of a moise vagina, it is the crunch of broken bones. . From the huge spare rectangular stage an uncluttered behemoth, to the consequential violence of a mosh pit, the roaring of vocals, and shredding of guitars, Metallica define the hard lines of maleness.

But from “That Was Just Your Life” through “Search And Destroy” a connection is not being made -or at least not the male bonding so important to this sort of an excursion. Things are not right. A huge swath in the middle of the concert relys on Metallica’s Death Magnetic (one wag has a sign reading Magnetic Square Garden), their 2008 return to their roots which just shows that their roots aren’t what they used be. It is certainly not a fan favourite and response from the audience is not the ecstatic howls of delight for”Masters Of Puppets”. The stage is huge and Metallica rushing up and down have no idea how to fill it, there is no video to bring you closer, they claim a kinship with the audience but they keep their distance.

If Lamb Of God are a jazz band in disguise, Metallica are a dance band. They are all about the drums and bass and stick to heavy and eavier triple time bass riffs in lockstep with the drums. You can make a lotta money with a ssound like that but they need a helluva lotta conviction to sell it.

The highlight of the first 45 minutes is an awesome light show in time to the music, running up and around the stage. It took that long for the set to gel with a powerful Death Magnetic song “Cyanide” and two songs later their Bob Seger off Garage, Inc. Otherwise they flounder between hits playing the same set with a change here and there (a good Diamonhead cover tongiht), same as Vancouver, same as . They call us family but they treat us like punters (45 minute break between Lamb Of God and Metallica, straight up sucker two hour set). Everybody in MSG go bersek for “Enter The Sandman”. Well, nearly everyone, Metallica are bit uninspired. Exit signs indeed.

Metallica give everything they have. What more do we want? More than this.

Setlist
1.That Was Just Your Life

2.The End Of The Line
3/ .For Whom The Bell Tolls
4.Holier Than Thou Play

5.One Play
6.Broken, Beat And Scarred
7.Cyanide
8. Sad But True Play
9.Turn The Page

10.All Nightmare Long
11.The Day That Never Comes
12.Master Of Puppets
13.Fight Fire With Fire 
14.Nothing Else Matters
15.Enter Sandman
Encore:
16.Helpless
17.Whiplash
18.Seek & Destroy

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