A Heavy Metal Wedding and Metallica’s Return to Grand Forks

Metallica brought their WorldWired Tour in support of their latest album “Hardwired to Self Destruct” to eager fans at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks Saturday, Sept. 8.

Have you ever heard of a comedian opening up for a heavy metal band before, let alone one of the “Big Four”? That is exactly what fans encounter on Metallica’s WorldWired Tour. Music comedian, podcaster and heavy metal super fan Jim Breüer warmed up the crowd. First with an expected stand-up routine, followed by a live backstage conversation with drummer Lars Ulrich and a floor pass ticket giveaway to a lucky family in the nosebleeds.

However, the most entertaining part of the pre-show entertainment was the first dance of newlyweds. The lucky couple was tying the knot in one of Alerus’ ballrooms at the same time as the concert. Breüer crashed the wedding and kidnapped the happy couple, bringing them on stage for congratulations from a stadium full of metalheads. Their first dance as a couple was on the stage Metallic would later occupy.

Metallica made it clear they were doing things their way from the stage setup alone. Instead of the standard large stage set to one side of the arena, Metallica had a circular central stage with spaced microphones around. In the very center sat Ulrich’s drum kit on a separate rotating platform. The central location was reminiscent of the iconic Wembley Stadium shows in England. It was standing room only on the floor, a throwback to general admission concerts, although the price reflected how close you were to the band. Another interesting element was the live recording of the show. Everyone at the concert will be able to access free MP3 downloads from the concert by going online and entering their ticket info.

When Metallica hit the stage they hit it hard, pulling out all the stops for eager fans. They ripped through a set spanning the range of their entire career with an energy that could rival musicians half their age. While engaging, the light show with its quick changes and frequent flashes were sometimes hard on the eyes. Pyrotechnics were also at play toward the end of the concert with flames and fireworks, evidence lead vocalist James Hetfield wasn’t letting his 1992 pyrotechnic accident deter him. Perhaps most interesting was the use of micro drones during the performance. These synchronized lighted bots were famously used in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea earlier this year.

Hetfield made it clear to fans that he and his bandmates appreciated the support throughout the years. He also voiced how the fan base is a family and how it has grown. Hetfield even brought 8-year-old fan Rollie on stage for a chat and some memorabilia. Hetfield couldn’t believe how young some of the fans were, stating that it blows him away that anyone that young would like Metallica.

Of course, the band came out for an encore. The fans of North Dakota were yet to be completely satisfied. After all, hits “Enter Sandman” and “Nothing Else Matters” had yet to be played. Fans were delighted by the four-song encore, which included the iconic songs.

No doubt metalheads of the region are impatient for the band’s return … hopefully in less than 37 years this time.

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