In this exclusive feature special to this blog, today we present the gig report from CLIFF BURTON’S first gig with METALLICA which took place on this date, thirty years ago today. It was truly a momentous occasion in the history of Bay Area Thrash and all of metal as Cliff’s addition to the band truly set them apart from the pack in the scene. Re-printed with permission originally as is ran Metal Mania #10, 1983, and more recently appeared as a critical chapter in the book MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW. Written by BRIAN LEW and HAROLD OIMOEN (D.R.I.), MITFR came out last year from Bazillion Points.
METALLICA, THE STONE, MARCH 5, 1983
by Brian Lew, excerpt from Metal Mania #10, 1983
Six months have passed since METALLICA’s dubious San Francisco debut opening for BITCH in September of ‘82, but in those two hundred-odd days the group has built up a large, rabid following in the Bay Area. This particular show was dubbed “The Night Of The Banging Head” and was the debut of new bassist, Cliff Burton. As a crowd of three hundred or so filed into The Stone, the scene was set for what turned out to be the heaviest show in recent S.F. HM history!
Opening the show were LAAZ ROCKIT and EXODUS. The awesome EXODUS bludgeoned the bangers into submission and induced some wild thrashing on the dance floor with such murderous tunes as “Whipping Queen,” “Die By His Hand,” and “Impaler.” Despite an ecstatic crowd response, EXODUS were denied an encore, but they nonetheless wreaked havoc on craniums and left many a sore neck!
On the other hand, East Bay PRIEST/CRUE clones LAAZ ROCKIT were criminally lacking in originality. Although they do have a good stage presence and show, utilizing some effective lighting, and their new guitarist definitely improves them as a performing unit, their weak, predictable material overshadows these good points. At last, LAAZ completed their allotted set and were gone. Then it was time…
METALLICA, those Supreme Metal Gods, those Purveyors of Raging Sonic Decapitation, those Rabid Vodka-Powered Maniacs, blew our faces off as they stormed onstage through a flurry of smoke and blinding light and got things really banging with “Hit The Lights” and it was time to DIE!!!
As is their style, the band went from power to power as they steamed through “The Mechanix” and “Phantom Lord”, leaving the headbanging horde thrashed and raging, and it was only three songs into the set! The autobiographical “Motorbreath” was as fast as ever and even more plaster cascaded from the ceiling. At this show, the group was incorporating some new lighting and effects and the results were staggering! Their live show is now complete and is the most effective of any club band I’ve seen!
Next up was the fiery cauldron of “Jump In The Fire” and then that “war machine that eats its way across the land,” “No Remorse”! DEATH, DEATH, RESOUNDING DEATH!!! And still METALLICA mercilessly hacked through their list of nuclear soul shatterers. “Seek And Destroy” found its target and drilled our eardrums as the headbanging and thrashing of the crowd (and band) intensified.
The moment many had been waiting for soon arrived. Bassist Cliff Burton’s solo spot!!! Cliff built his solo from a haunting classical guitar-sounding ballad up to a crescendo of some of the fastest, most apocalyptic bass raging ever performed! Step aside Steve Harris, Bill Sheehan and Joey DeMaio!
Throughout his symphony, Cliff (a.k.a. God!) utilized his wah pedal to attain sounds that most would believe impossible; you could swear he was playing lead guitar, not bass. As his solo built up to its conclusion, drummer supreme Lars Ulrich (now playing double bass) and maestro of the six string Dave Mustaine leaped into an awesome jam session that had heads bobbing violently and hair flying in all directions. Then, in one swift action, they were rejoined by vocalist/rhythm guitarist/rager James Hetfield and sped into that ear bleeding anthem “Whiplash.”
As the crowd “banged their heads against the stage like they never did before,” the group continued to go mental right along with them! Closing the set were the two DIAMOND HEAD classics “Am I Evil?” and “The Prince,” which were played, in traditional METALLICA fashion, faster than Sean Harris, et al, could ever dream possible!
For their well-deserved (and loudly requested) encores, METALLICA brought back a song they performed in their early days, BLITZKRIEG’s bombastic “Blitzkreig” (Raging Metallic Death!!!) and then obliterated everyone and everything as they sliced into that anthem to end all anthems, the almighty ode to headbangers “Metal Militia”!!
With the addition of Cliff Burton, METALLlCA now have the heaviest and fastest lineup ever assembled. With dates confirmed for them in New York in early April (including a headlining show on the 1st and a support slot with VANDENBERG on the 8th), and their debut album expected in late spring, things are definitely beginning to happen for this band!
by Brian Lew
(Special thanks to Brian Lew for the blog, the use of the MITFR images and especially to Bazillion Points)