PONTIAC, Michigan — After enduring bashing in the press from Deftones singer Chino Moreno, Metallica proved they really are the "saviors of rock and roll" with a 90-minute Fourth of July set in front of 36,000 sweltering fans at the Pontiac Silverdome
Even Moreno, who surfed into the crowd during the Deftones' set earlier in the day, had to give credit where it was due. "Are you guys ready for Metallica? The whole night is going to blow up as soon as they go on," he said.
And indeed it did.
Metallica brought the fireworks indoors for Independence Day — literally and figuratively — for the Summer Sanitarium kickoff, which also featured appearances by Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and Mudvayne.
Lead singer James Hetfield growled to the audience, "Are you ready?," after the opening number, "Battery," charged the crowd. The set list was heavy on material recorded prior to Metallica's Black album, possibly because the earlier material is more in line with the sound of their new album, St. Anger. It included at least two new songs, "St. Anger" and "Frantic," along with "Fuel," "Master of Puppets" and a sprinkling of hits from the band's fledgling years.
Metallica were tight, with Kirk Hammett offering fiery guitar solos at each end of the gigantic stage. Hetfield led the audience in on an a cappella rendition of "Sad But True" before Metallica returned with full barrels blazing. "Fuel" was the standout performance of the night, with Hetfield introducing it as sort of a metal cheerleader. "Gimme an M," he said with a laugh. "Gimme an E. Gimme a T. Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire."
New bassist Robert Trujillo looked right at home with Metallica, provoking screams from the audience as he spun around and paced in a circle like a wild animal ready to pounce. It was clear that after a few years away, the band was happy to be back onstage.
"Oh my God, it's great to be back here in Detroit!" Hetfield said. "It's so great to be here, alive and playing for you freaking metalheads on the Fourth of July. God bless America." He then added that "Harvester of Sorrow" was dedicated to fans who have been "fans of Metallica during the tough times and through the great times, which is now."
Video cameras, which broadcast images on massive screens hanging from the rafters, took an artsy approach for most of the show, getting close-ups of nimble fingers atop instruments as well as distinctive tattoos on various body parts, in lieu of showing the bandmembers' faces.
Limp Bizkit are co-headlining the tour with Metallica, and went on immediately before them. "Ladies and gentleman, introducing ... ahh, you all know who the f--- we are!" frontman Fred Durst announced from backstage. Busting from behind the curtains wearing a green baseball hat, black shirt and khaki pants, he declared, "This is not Independence Day any longer. It's Limpdependence Day. I want to show you all that we can let it all fly. Let's take it back to the [Detroit] State Theatre where it all started," he said before cueing the intro of "My Generation."
Mosh pits broke out on the main floor, causing security to flurry. Legions of fans banged their heads to "My Generation" while pumping their fists in the air. Following that song, Durst showed his appreciation for Detroit while laying into a certain pop singer with whom he reportedly had a fling. Then taking a swipe at Britney Spears, Durst dedicated "Break Stuff" to her with an obscene comment. During the song he offered his best Ted Nugent imitation, grabbing a prop shotgun, cocking the barrel and busting a fake shot into the crowd. Fans responded by waving Red Wings jerseys in the air.
Annoyed about not being able to see fans in the back of the venue, Durst ventured onto the main floor to perform several songs, including a cover of the Who's "Behind Blue Eyes."
"They're telling me I'm getting out of control," he said. "Am I getting out of control? F--- it. It's the Summer Sanitarium."
Limp Bizkit debuted songs from its forthcoming album, which was advertised on video screens reading, "New album out in fall 2003."
Aware that his band wasn't the only marquee name on the bill ("We all know why we're here. It's for the kings of metal, Metallica," he said.), Durst concluded his band's set with a nod to the evening's headliners by covering their "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)," also on Metallica's set list.
Linkin Park MC Mike Shinoda and singer Chester Bennington — the latter of whom only recently recovered from a serious illness that landed him in the hospital — wore black and white shirts, respectively, and vocally faced off like bandits in the Wild West.
After tearing through Meteora's "Figure.09" and "Faint," Shinoda shared his appreciation for the attentive fans: "I feel good about these guys, Chezzy," he said to Bennington.
"Yeah, these guys turned out to be all right," replied the platinum-haired singer, who repeatedly ran the length of the stage, showing no signs of his recent illness.
Mudvayne, whose latest album, The End of All Things to Come, was certified gold during the course of the weekend, kicked off the show with "Internal Primates Forever." Lead singer Chad Gray encouraged those who did not have The End of All Things to Come to get it by any means, including CD burning and MP3s.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.