The Big 4

Yankees Stadium, NY

by Laru S. (September, 2011)

Inarguably, the biggest heavy metal show in history, "The Big 4", invaded Yankee Stadium on September 14, 2011. The four most legendary thrash metal bands shared the same stage, which was stationed in deep centerfield, appropriately placed directly in front of Monument Park, which features some of the most legendary baseball players of all-time. Absolute chaos was the theme for 7 hours, as each band, and the fans, were pumped for this long-awaited festival.

New York's own Anthrax fired the first blows of the evening, hitting the stage in replica Yankees jerseys that had an Anthrax logo in place of the iconic inter-locking NY. They opened with "Fight 'Em Til You Can't", from their newly-released reunion album "Worship Music", and it showed that Anthrax is certainly back with a vengeance. The Bronx declared the date "Anthrax Day", as rythym section (and Uncle/Nephew) Charlie Benante (drums) & Frankie Bello (bass), as well as lead guitarist Rob Caggiano, were born and raised in The Bronx. Rythym guitarist Scott Ian is a Queens native, but is a hardcore Yankees fan, and was stoked to be playing Yankee Stadium. The band, including returning vocalist Joey Belladonna, sounded the best they have in years, as they pounded out a slew of greatest hits in their 55 minute performance. They set a remarkable tone for what was to come over the rest of the evening.

Next up was Megadeth, who nearly had to pull out of the show due to an injury sustained by lead vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine. Mustaine said he was told by doctors that he needs neck surgery and should not be playing, but he refused to let down fans that have been clamoring for this show for over a year. Despite the injury, Mustaine didn't miss a beat while putting his trademark growl on songs such as "Trust", "Hangar 18", "Headcrusher", and "Sweating Bullets", the latter of which showed the huge power of drummer Shawn Drover. Bassist Dave "Junior" Ellefson laid out one of the most recognizable bass lines in metal on "Peace Sells", which also featured the stage presence of band mascot Vic Rattlehead. Finally, guitarist Chris Broderick shone brightly on the final song of their 50 minute set, "Holy Wars....The Punishment Due". Megadeth showed that they have more than earned their place in this grand slam of thrash metal bands.

The third act of the night, and undoubtedly the most brutal, was Slayer. They started their all-out assault on Yankee Stadium and New York with "Disciple", featuring the trademark grunting of lead vocalist/bassist Tom Araya, he himself only a few years removed from neck surgery, no doubt the result of two-plus decades of break-neck speed headbanging. Guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt (from Exodus, filling in for an injured Jeff Hanneman) riffed and soloed at the speed of light throughout the duration of the band's one hour set. The brutality was displayed on classic songs such as "War Ensemble", "Chemical Warfare", "Dead Skin Mask", "South of Heaven", "Raining Blood", and the night's final number, "Angel of Death", featuring the massive chops of perhaps thrash metal's best drummer, Dave Lombardo. Yankee Stadium had never been louder, and you'd have thought it would never be again after Slayer; but you'd have been so wrong.

As darkness enveloped the ballpark, the signature intro "The Ecstacy of Gold" blared through the PA, signalling the imminent stage arrival of Metallica, the most successful thrash metal band in history. The band immediately launched into the classic "Creeping Death" and the sound was deafening. Likewise, the crowd of close to 50,000 people belted out nearly every line of the song, as well as many others throughout the night. Vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield led the band and crowd, and was in rare form, sounding better than he has in quite some time. The band played classic after classic, such as "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "Ride the Lightning", "Fade to Black", and "Sad But True", all featuring searing guitar solos from virtuoso lead player Kirk Hammett. Bassist extra-ordinaire Rob Trujillo played a brief solo which led into "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", and then led the band into "Orion", from the seminal "Master of Puppets" album. At the conclusion of the rarely-played instrumental, James paid tribute to iconic original bassist Cliff Burton, who tragically died in a tour bus accident 25 years ago this month.

The band hit the home-stretch of their set by delivering the always powerful "One", complete with a fireworks display meant to simulate war-time battles. Drummer Lars Ulrich was at his best on this masterpiece. They ended the set with the ever-popular "Enter Sandman" and the crowd was absolutely spent. But sheer madness was still to come. As they hit the stage for their encore, they were joined by members of Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, and Exodus. Together, this all-star caliber group of musicians paid tribute to one of their idols, Lemmy Kilmister, by playing Motorhead's "Overkill". Unfortunately, the beginning of the song suffered from a poor soundboard mix, as technicians struggled with containing and balancing about a dozen instruments playing at an astronomical decibel level. But, after the first verse, the problems seem to be resolved, and the mix was passable. Metallica would finish their 2 hour & 15 minute set by pounding out "Battery" and "Seek and Destroy", and the biggest night in New York metal history (and possibly all of metal history) came to an end. I doubt that there was even one disappointed fan leaving the stadium. Personally, I believe this was the most complete and satisfying show I have ever attended.

 SETLISTS:

ANTHRAX

  1. Fight 'Em Til You Can't

  2. Got the Time

  3.  Madhouse

  4.  Caught in a Mosh

  5.  Anti-Social

  6.  The Devil You Know

  7.  Indians

  8.  Metal Thrashing Mad

  9.  I am the Law

MEGADETH

  1.  Trust

  2.  Hangar 18

  3.  She-Wolf

  4.  Public Enemy Number One

  5.  Headcrusher

  6.  A Tout Le Monde

  7.  Sweating Bullets

  8.  Symphony of Destruction

  9.  Peace Sells

  10.  Holy Wars....The Punishment Due

SLAYER

  1.  Disciple

  2.  Postmortem

  3.  Hate Worldwide

  4.  War Ensemble

  5.  Psychopathy Red

  6.  Mandatory Suicide

  7.  Chemical Warfare

  8.  Silent Scream

  9.  Dead Skin Mask

  10.  Snuff

  11.  Raining Blood

  12.  Black Magic

  13.  Angel of Death

METALLICA

  1.  Creeping Death

  2.  For Whom the Bell Tolls

  3.  Fuel

  4.  Ride the Lightning

  5.  {Kirk Hammett Solo 1}

  6.  Fade to Black

  7.  Cyanide

  8.  All Nightmare Long

  9.  Sad But True

  10.  {Rob Trujillo Solo}

  11.  Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

  12.  Orion

  13.  One

  14.  Master of Puppets

  15.  Blackened

  16.  {Kirk Hammett Solo 2}

  17.  Nothing Else Matters

  18.  Enter Sandman

ENCORES

  1.  Overkill (Motorhead cover, featuring members of Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, and Exodus)

  2.  Battery

  3.  Seek and Destroy

Affiliation with KNEW GEN None

Contact Laru S. at larus@knewgeneration.com