While most of the music world was still trying to process the MTV Video Music Awards (and working to parse Kanye West's apology for hijacking Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video), some bands were getting up to business as usual. Road-tested rock veterans Metallica kicked off their "World Magnetic" tour at the Sommet Center in Nashville last night. Metallica have gone theatrical before, memorably constructing a massive stage (which was demolished most every night) during the tours for Load and Reload, but based on their first show, this run will be all about stripped-down production and good old-fashioned Reagan-era shredding. The band relied heavily on the throwback-sounding songs from last year's Death Magnetic, and they proved that they've still got the muscle and brutality to turn a group of unassuming metal fans into an adrenalized, fist-pumping mob.
That's not to say Metallica have completely abandoned their visual sense. The one bit of arena-rock theatricality added to Monday night's savage set? Lasers!
Toward the end of the set, the band busted out the big guns to surprise the fans. They welcomed Motörhead frontman and metal legend Lemmy Kilmister to the stage for two covers of Motörhead tunes: "Too Late Too Late" and "Damage Case." Metallica have covered Motörhead in the past, most notably on the 1995 Motörheadache EP that was later folded into the Garage, Inc. collection. (Those covers included the two they played last night, plus "Overkill" and "Stone Dead Forever.") Other highlights in the set included a quiet "Nothing Else Matters," the epic "Battery" and a big metal singalong on "Enter Sandman." Metallica are in Cincinnati tonight and then cover all the crevices in North America, including a two-night run at Madison Square Garden in November. Click here for more photos from Metallica's first show from the "World Magnetic" tour in Nashville!