Metallica are well known as one of the greatest live bands in modern recorded music. This album was recorded at the band’s first annual All Within My Hands Helping Hands Concert & Auction at The Masonic in San Francisco. Not just another live album, this acoustic outing exposes any flaws laid bare to the listener.
The set list is a combination of music that displays some interesting reworks of classics, as well as Metallica yet again displaying how well they can re-imagine another band’s classic rock or metal material and make it their own.
But first, just to get to the meat and potatoes of what really surprised me here, allow me to gloss over the expected inclusions like ‘The Unforgiven’, ‘Turn The Page’, one of many covers the band has made their own, as well as ‘Enter Sandman’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters’. What really makes someone stand up and pay attention is when you completely rework your own material and give it a totally different life.
So in that spirit, Metallica begin the set with a very interesting take on ‘Disposable Heroes’ that completely removes the thrash attack of the original but manages to hang onto the seething anger. On Deep Purple cover ‘When A Blind Man Cries’ Hetfield stretches his vocal range to the max and it feels uncomfortable early on before the rest of the band helps him a little through the remainder of the higher vocal parts. Nazareth cover ‘Please Don’t Judas Me’ finds him and the band settling into their setting rather comfortably. It is in this relaxed atmosphere come some of the best re-imaginings and Hetfield’s nerves about his voice are forgotten. ‘Bleeding Me’ finds him over-reaching a little, but in his after song banter acknowledging it while admitting he is finally feeling comfortable half way through the set.
And it is here in the second half that the band unleash. ‘All Within My Hands’ takes an even creepier turn that the lyrics already allude, the music around it no longer just violent thrash, more akin to a country song as cold acoustic strings and peddle steel make the character of James’ lyrics even colder and harsher. With ‘The Four Horsemen’ the band tightens up and plays a country style boogie that makes the Horsemen feel a lot closer.
Finishing on ‘Hardwired’ is an inspired move. Allowing bassist Robert Trujillio to take the heavier rhythm guitar parts on with his bass, and Lars’ drums are slowed down just enough to become a punk d-beat whilst James turns in the heaviest vocal performance of the night, seething audibly at times through gritted teeth to get the message of his lyrics across, whilst surrounded by a whirlwind of chaos from acoustic guitar trying to keep up.
The highlight overall is the intimate feeling of the performance, with the band interacting amongst themselves and the audience in a way that isn’t often caught in live recordings because they are usually a snap shot of some major performance. Here it’s a band allowing you to sit in on a jam session.
All proceeds go to the bands own charity All Within My Hands Foundation. So if you want to get your warm and fuzzy on, what better way than to actually buy a different kind of live release from a band always excels in the live forum. You know you want to right?
- Disposable Heroes
- When A Blind Man Cries
- The Unforgiven
- Please Don’t Judas Me
- Turn The Page
- Bleeding Me
- Veteran Of The Physic Wars
- Nothing Else Matters
- All Within My Hands
- Enter Sandman
- The Four Horsemen