Sunday, April 09, 2017

No Remorse

Metallica / Iggy Pop
Foro Sol, Mexico City, Mexico
March 3rd and 5th, 2017

Prior to leaving on this trip I traded messages with The Front Man and told him how seeing The Band in a foreign land has been on my bucket list for a long time (Vancouver doesn't count...).  Not long after arriving in Mexico City I saw The Front Man in person and we chatted about me seeing the band in a foreign land for the first time again... and then later that evening The Front Man dedicated 'No Remorse' to me in front of a sold out stadium of 70,000 Latin Americans:

"This one's for Brian!"  What. The. Fuck.  Later at the after show gathering back at the hotel, The Front Man came over to me and asked "Did you like that?!"  Fuck yeah, I did..  and my mind was blown for a couple of days, man.  It was the emotional highlight of what was an epic 5 days south of the border.

These shows in Mexico City were basically "warm up" shows for Metallica to road test the latest version of their ginormous stadium stage they'll be using in U.S. baseball and football stadiums this Summer. The venue site was massive and felt downright medieval at times. Evidently Foro Sol used to be the home field for the Mexican national baseball team, but now it primarily hosts Formula 1 racing events.

What made these Mexico City shows extra special was having Iggy Pop as the support act.  IGGY.  POP.  The fact that Iggy was on the bill, and it was NOT a festival, was a complete "when worlds collide" event for me. At one point before the 2nd show I wandered around the venue and watched Iggy's band soundcheck without him. When my iPhone took this picture the band was running through 'Gimme Danger' into 'Search And Destroy':

Oh yeah, and Henry Rollins was there hanging out with Iggy, taking photos, and just being Hank.  I've seen Iggy live around a dozen times over the years, but never in front of a massive crowd like in Mexico.  However, any doubts I had about Iggy translating to a massive Metallica audience disappeared during his sets as he worked the entire stage (He's 69 years old!).  He stormed onstage with 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' and kept it going for a solid hour each night.

Oh, and Iggy (He's 69 years old!) dove into the crowd each night.  When I grow up I wanna be like Iggy!  It's easy to forget how many songs he's written or co-written as hit after hit after hit kept coming.  'Lust For Life'.. 'The Passenger'.. 'Repo Man' (!).. 'Some Weird Sin'.. and of course Stooges songs like 'Down On The Street' and 'Loose'.  Hands down one of the best support acts Metallica has ever hosted.  SO GREAT.

As part of this tour, Metallica have curated a traveling museum of memorabilia that is displayed at the venue.  When I first heard about it I thought it would be lame, but in reality it's pretty fucking cool.

The hidden treasures of the exhibition are found in the road case drawers that are labeled simply with their contents such as "Cliff".. "Fanzines".. "Tour Passes".  When I opened the Fanzine drawer I had a pleasant surprise when I saw my old 'zine Whiplash displayed with issues of the legendary Bob Muldowny's Kick Ass Monthly and Ron Quintana's Metal Mania 

I had forgotten that one of my Hetfield photos was on the cover of that issue of Kick Ass Monthly back in 1984-85  Peace in Rest, Bob.

Get this, the traveling museum also contains the ORIGINAL artwork (aka PAINTINGS) for Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets!  Holy shit, right?!  I can't believe they're shipping these priceless items around the globe for fans to see.

At this point you can cue 'Wherever I May Roam':  Since I was at the venue early on the show days I killed time wandering around the venue, eating the catering food, and chatting with friends.. and walking past random shit like this:

At one point during the weekend I found myself on the other side of a room divider from the band's tuning room.  For awhile I was serenaded by the sounds of The Bass Player practicing by himself and singing his band's new (and excellent) song 'Confusion'.  Needless to say, I now have a difficult time listening to that song without hearing The Bass Player's voice.  Awkward.

I'm not being dramatic when I say these shows in Mexico City were life changing on a certain level.  I can be the most jaded mofo when it comes to this band, but seeing them in front of massive crowds in a foreign land was inspiring.  Metallica sold 200,000 tickets to these 3 shows.. TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND tickets in ONE city! 

The Latin American fans were not there to pose or sit in a VIP area sipping expensive drinks and taking selfies of each other.  Each night, 70,000 were there for THE MUSIC and their love of THE BAND.  I don't think you can have that kind of authentic concert experience on this massive scale in the States anymore, at least for a Metal band.


It's hard for me to articulate how passionate the Latin American crowd was towards the band.  Before they came on, and even between songs during the sets, the entire stadium would start a soccer-style chant of "Ole!! Ole! Ole!! Ole! Me-tal-lica!!"  At times during the shows you could feel the ground and the stadium itself moving as the crowd went bonkers especially during vintage anthems like 'Harvester Of Sorrow'.  In addition to the entire general admission stadium floor pogoing and going nuts, several times I looked up to the farthest, deepest part of the stadium and even the fans in the very back nosebleed seats were going off.  It was amazing.

On the 2nd night I was down at the front dodging thrown beers but getting hit by at least two.  When I turned around during 'Battery' this was the crowd action going down behind me:

How do you say "Battery is found in me" in Spanish?

I like the new Metallica album quite a bit and I like how the band has their swagger back again. 'Moth Into Flame' and its groove is one of my favorite Metallica songs already, and live it's even better.  As I said earlier, Mexico City was a warm up for the band and crew to dial in the stage, production, and set... and as such there were some minor awkwardly weird moments.  Such as during 'Now That We're Dead' the band formed a drum circle mid-song (each of them on a drum facing each other) and attempted a tribal vibe moment.  That sort of thing works for Neurosis but not so much for Metallica.  In Latin America it kind of, sort of worked because the culture there loves drums.  However, if it continues in the States this Summer I can see it being the bathroom break in the Midwest.  A drum solo is a drum solo. Honesty is my only excuse.. Anyway, kudos to the band for trying something different.

Despite the brief warm up gig moments, the band completely owned Mexico City.  No band is better or sounds as good as Metallica on a massive stage in front of a massive crowd.  I've said this before, the bigger the crowd, the better the band performs. For the Sunday show I wanted to experience the show from the middle of the seething metal masses so we made our way to the platform attached to the front of house lighting desk. My iPhone took this picture during the "Die!!  Die!" chant in 'Creeping Death':

I had an epiphany moment as I watched the 3rd show from the lighting desk.  As 'One' started I ducked off the platform to use a porta-potty located next to it for the crew and guests... and as I stood inside of it the song's intro pyro was going off outside.  Okay.. on second thought.. maybe it wasn't an epiphany but it was a surreal moment.. Being in a Mexican porta-potty as 70,000 people are losing it around you and stage pyro explosions and gunfire recordings from the PA are going off.  Metal.

Away from the shows, it was a reality check to see how so many fans camped out at the band's hotel hoping to get a glimpse of their Rock God heroes. It was a profound seeing fans who were not jaded, who probably don't read Blabbermouth, and who simply love THE BAND and THE MUSIC.  Pure and easy.  It was straight up inspiring seeing that kind of devotion again, the kind that I used to have a million years ago.  Latin America es mas Metal.  I should also say that, away from the shows, I had the best time hanging with friends doing stuff and drinking stuff. Epic good times.

Anyway, in the 35 years (!) that I've been following Metallica I've been fortunate to have witnessed many amazing moments.  On the 3rd and final night one of those amazing moments happened again as the first song of the encore:

Full circle amazing and I loved how this collaboration was unexpected but made complete sense.  The charisma and intensity of Iggy onstage was a contrast to him at the after show party back at the hotel bar.  Seeing Iggy wearing glasses, comfortably slumped in a big leather chair, laughing and chatting is an image I'll always remember.

Yes, this blog rant is about something that happened over a month ago, but better late than never I suppose.  To be honest, much more happened in Mexico City and my head has been too overwhelmed to attempt to document everything... Plus, real life shit meant I couldn't spend a lot of time trying to fill this space with words.  So, I've simply tried to capture the vibe of my Metal time in Mexico City with my favorite band.

Number of Murder In The Front Row fans who recognized me in The Snake Pit  during a show in Mexico City = 2.. Amazing! On the way back to the United States, some pimply-faced teenage TSA agents called me a fag. Who knows what other Metal adventures await over the next year now that Metallica are back on The Road.. 

All pictures courtesy of Umlaut's iPhone.