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Metallica w/Orchestra Of St. Luke's
November 23, 1999 - Madison Square Gardens - New York, NY

On November 23rd, NYC's Veritable Rock 'n' Roll hall of fame, Madison Square Garden was one of the select few stadiums chosen to host The strangest marriage of musical crass and big brass: An Evening with Metallica and the Orchestra of St. Luke's. Although the not the 'Original" idea most greener generations may think this to be (ELP tried this and nearly bankrupted themselves in the late 70's I believe), it certainly proved interesting to witness this uncommon event. Drummer Lars Ulrich was recently quoted as saying, "Our peers are marrying Urban Hip Hop music to Rock," he said. "We went as far away from that as you can imagine". As someone who has gotten increasingly annoyed with that genre like myself, for that alone I commend him and the boys. As for the theory put into practice, I have my mixed feelings.

Playing at a noticeably lower volume, they were met with some chants of "Turn it up!" early on in the set. Opening with the best vehicle to showcase the mix of the beauty with the beast, was "Call Of The Ktulu", off of "Ride The Lightning." Fully utilizing the powerful dynamics that a complete orchestra can provide, this was the main reason for attending this spectacle. As for the rest of the two set Metallica extravaganza, I found the novelty of this wore off quickly to me.

I must say it did have its moments though. The low-end strings did really fill out rather nicely the end of "The Thing That Should Not Be" and the lead in of "For Whom The Bell Tolls". Obviously, the symphony would dominate in the soft-core track "Nothing Else Matters" and was slightly apparent in other recent songs like "Wherever I May Roam" and the forever lasting "The Outlaw Torn". The only place I almost wish I couldn't hear it was in "One" (from And Justice For All). I felt the strong high-end string arrangement didn't fit the midrange rhythm of the song, but that's preference on my behalf I believe. There were plenty more memorable moments in the show, but that had nothing to do with the tuxedos behind the band. "Master Of Puppets" needs no help from anyone and "Sad But True" is quite a thick song live, a real stand out amongst songs from the last few records I haven't been all that inspired to buy. They did not play anything off of their very first album, Kill 'Em All.

Regardless, they were all fine to watch as they played with a relaxed ease and comfort that made the everyone in the Garden feel at home with the band some of us have come to know very well over the last two decades. It's hard to explain how wonderfully entertaining it was to watch them riff and jam out with violists and cello players. Whether it's worth $83 a seat, only a fan can decide that. There are few bands left that I would readily plop down those kinds of dollar digits for. Judging by the packed house, plenty of people had no problem smacking down the big bucks to see this show. Screaming fans filled the historic home of the NY Rangers (who suck) the whole 360 degrees around. The guy next to me paid $500 a ticket for him and his adorable girlfriend to get in. Too bad she wasn't one of the few girls up front pulling their shirts up. Regardless of how they do it, Metallica is still a great band to see live.

Written by and all Photos © by Steve Trujillo./Fake111

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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