Metallica chases the lightning at the KeyBank Center

Metal luminaries stay true to form to sold-out crowd


James Hetfield noticed a 12-year-old fan in the front row on Saturday while discussing Metallica’s massive fanbase.

“Everyone is allowed in the Metallica family at any time in their life: young, middle-aged and old,” Hetfield said. “They’re all here represented in the Metallica family.”

The family lead vocalist Hetfield spoke of gave a resounding welcome to the metal legends on Saturday night at the sold-out KeyBank Center. Over a nearly three-hour, 15-song set, Metallica settled into a pocket of energy while performing new cuts and long-running setlist staples. Metallica is currently on its “WorldWired Tour” in support of its tenth studio album “Hardwired...To Self Destruct.”

The stage for the “WorldWired Tour” found a home in the middle of the KeyBank Center and gave an impeccable view to the audience. Hanging above the stage were cube-shaped screens, displaying footage alongside tracks as well as illuminating the stage throughout the evening.

Metallica jumped into a quick-fire set with opener “Hardwired” from “Hardwired...To Self Destruct.” Metallica quickly moved to “Atlas, Rise!” before Hetfield addressed the crowd for the first time.

“We hope you’re here to have some fun because that’s why we’re here,” Hetfield said.

Metallica wasted no time giving fans a classic track with “Seek and Destroy,” resulting in immense applause mixed with fist-pumping and head-banging from most in attendance.

This would become the trend throughout the evening as Metallica gave metalheads a reason to rejoice.

Cuts from “Hardwired… To Self Destruct” received exciting praise and recognition from fans on Saturday. The set featured newer tracks, among those being “Now That We’re Dead,” giving Metallica confirmation of the effect of its newest work.

Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett was lively on Saturday, providing focused and intricate guitar work and solos that limited a necessity to hog the limelight. Instead Hammett picked his spots rather particularly, waiting for the appropriate moments to shred with the band and on his own.

Drummer Lars Ulrich provided a strong framework for each track throughout the evening, pouring waves of energy and power into each cymbal crash and drum fill. His drums were the clearest part of Metallica’s performance, as the first half of Metallica’s set seemed to mash Hetfield's and Hammett’s guitar into one. 

Robert Trujillo’s bass was rendered nonexistent for the same amount of time, leaving Ulrich as the soul driver of the rhythm section. Hammett effectively stood as a figure to marvel at throughout the first half of Metallica’s set. He wasn’t too over-the-top or showy with his solos and picked his stage positions wisely. 

Metallica has amassed a following for both its influence on the heavy metal sound as well as electrifying performances. Saturday night felt bottom heavy at the KeyBank Center, and Metallica seemed content focusing on the quality of its tracks rather than its live performance.

But classic tracks like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” ignited the spark Metallica needed.

Trujillo introduced the fan favorite with a bass medley, which led into a thumping bass drum from Ulrich. The song brought most in attendance to their feet, with Hetfield providing exceptional vocals that showed little sign of age.

Metallica reached the end of its set with concert-staple “One,” providing a deceptively soft and melodic opening rendition of the classic track, which only made the crescendo more powerful. Metallica closed its main set with the up-tempo “Master of Puppets” to an ecstatic crowd. Without pause, Metallica descended from the stage for several minutes only to return for three encores.

Metallica hit a stride once again with encores “Battery” and “Nothing Else Matters,” before the timeless “Enter Sandman” reverberated throughout the arena. Metallica rejoiced on Saturday night, and received gratifying confirmation that its family is alive and well in Buffalo.

Brian Evans is the senior arts editor and can be reached at and on Twitter @BrianEvansSpec.


Brian Evans is a senior English major and The Spectrum's senior arts editor.