Photo of James Hetfield performing at Soldier Field, by Dan DeSlover
As far as the members of Metallica were concerned in the summer of 2017, it didn’t matter anyone’s age, race, religion, politics or even dietary preferences. Instead, the band comprised of front man James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Lars Ulrich were wholeheartedly committed to unifying a sold out Soldier Field rather than digging deeper into the hole of society’s current divisions.
And for two-plus hours, everyone from old school metal heads right down to little kids celebrated a band that’s blasted down door after door to become one of the most vital heavy-handed acts of all time. No matter if it was the newer “Atlas, Rise!,” “Moth Into Flame” and “Halo On Fire” (from last year’s Hardwired…To Self-Destruct) or the groundbreaking “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” “The Four Horsemen” and “Fade To Black,” Metallica operated as an unstoppable force of nature, revisiting stadium-filling status for the first time since their 2000 Summer Sanitarium Tour.
That meant, in addition to all the menacing sounds and bellowing screams, the “WorldWired” Tour was accompanied by fireballs, a several story screen, multiple mini-stages and all the other eye-popping visuals required for a show of this scope. Yet there was also a prevailing sense of oneness with the expansive audience, whether it was Hetfield giving a shout-out to an eight-year-old boy on his dad’s shoulders or converging mid-venue atop the mosh pit for “Seek & Destroy.”
Although Metallica’s latest (and exceedingly aggressive) album was a priority, so was at least a little something from all its other major periods. “Wherever I May Roam,” “Sad But True,” “One,” “Master Of Puppets,” “Battery” and “Nothing Else Matters” all roared as if little time had passed, while “Enter Sandman” may have been strewn with sleep references, but wound up unloading so much adrenaline it was likely to keep everyone fist-pumping until the sun came up.
Photos by Dan DeSlover