BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
For fans of a band that usually sells out arenas and stadiums, the chance to see one of your favorites playing an all acoustic set in a small theater setting can be a rare treat. On Saturday evening, Metallica gave some of them a post-Halloween gift to remember with a benefit concert performance at the intimate Masonic in San Francisco.
The band was performing a hometown fundraiser for their All Within My Hands charity foundation. Launched early last year in an effort to encourage more participation from their fans to help to make the world a better place and encourage volunteerism, Metallica is donating funds raised from the show and it’s accompanying auctions to a cross-section of charities that the individual band members support, along with to music education programs and food banks.
With lead singer and guitarist James Hetfield, dressed in black, anchored to a stool with his head behind the microphone most of the night as opposed to terrorizing a large stage, guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Lars Ulrich were supported by a percussionist, pedal steel player, mandolin player and keyboardist for a rare 12 song acoustic set as the band stripped down and revitalized some of its most menacing rock hits.
Opening with a rearranged version of “Disposable Heroes” from 1986’s “Master of Puppets,” the band soon proceeded to treat the crowd to a quartet of classic rock covers. The first seven songs included unique interpretations of Deep Purple’s “When a Blind Man Cries,” Nazareth’s “Please Don’t Judas Me,” Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page,” and Blue Oyster Cult’s “Veteran of the Psychic Wars.”
Appreciation for that uniqueness aside, the strongest audience reactions were still reserved for more familiar fare. “The Unforgiven,” “Nothing Else Matters,” and “Enter Sandman,” all from Metallica’s 1991’s self-titled album that exploded their popularity were delivered masterfully and still instantly recognizable in their unplugged glory.
Finishing the 80 minute presentation with “Hardwired,” the sole track played from their most recent 2016 release, the band quietly left the stage without an encore, but certainly no one was complaining after a memorable night for all.
The band resumes its “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” tour in support of their 10th studio album on November 26th in Las Vegas, before returning for California shows in Sacramento on December 7th and Fresno two days later.