The Dream That They’ve Been After (The Godfatherecords G.R.752)
Arena Building Cape Girardeau, Missouri USA May 24, 1986
(71:08) Battery, Master Of Puppets, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ride The Lightening, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Four Horsemen, Thing That Should Not Be, Cliff Burton Solo, Damage Inc., Fade To Black, Seek And Destroy, Creeping Death
My first time seeing Metallica live came on June 19 1986 at the Kellogg Center in Battlecreek Michigan, the band was opening for Ozzy Osbourne on his Ultimate Sin tour. I had been familiar with the band through the Master Of Puppets record released earlier in the year and was following them and a group of new bands with a harder and faster edge such as Anthrax and Megadeth.
In my book Metallica was the top of the heap, they had a sound that was influenced by the European Metal of the 70’s and the NWOBHM from the early 80’s but with a heavier and much faster approach coupled with intense aggression. I can remember being back a few feet from the stage in front of Cliff Burton as he towered over the audience and remember the band playing Seek and Destroy but little else, it was a hot and sweltering night and was also my first time seeing Ozzy to memorable does not even come close.
I soon devoured the other Metallica records, Kill Em All and ride The Lightning and got import copies of Creeping Death and Jump In The Fire to round things off and devour the B-sides of unreleased tunes and live versions. I followed the band intently up to the release of the Black album and regularly seen them live (who could forget the 2 night stand at Pine Knob in July 1989 with the Cult as the opening band). In my opinion at the time the Black album was a sellout, as I look back at it the band was broadening the music and would carry the Heavy Metal banner as they still do today.
I was certainly delighted when I saw this title announced, bootlegs featuring the Classic line up of Burton, Hettfield, Ulrich, and Hammett seem hard to come by these days and a soundboard to boot was as no brainer. The soundboard first surface in 2000 in trading circles, it is not complete, missing the intro and first minute or so of Battery and the encore but the bulk of the set is present.
The band were in the middle of the Ozzy tour and this may have been an off date as the regular opening sets for shorter in length, about 50 minutes. The sound is excellent, well balanced, clear and enjoyable but perhaps just a little flat sounding as it is a bare boned board, very little audience noise can be heard. What is nice is the clarity of the instruments make it perfect for listening to Cliff, he was an innovator in the genre of metal bass playing so this is a real treat.
The recording picks up as the band hammer through Battery, you can picture them heads down just thrashing it out. Hatfield’s early vocals are rash and aggression filled and close to a controlled scream and the band is incredibly tight. Battery is a perfect opener with the band hitting you like a full assault by the aforementioned. They waste little time and go right into Master Of Puppets, the interplay between Hammett and Hetfield is particularly effect on this song as the slow the pace and play the harmonized leads part.
James wants to see some action and the band play For Whom The Bell Tolls, no other bassist that has played with Metallica can play the bass line like Cliff, who of course played with no pick and is incredible. The band is in very tight unison, Hammett who is an underrated player rips the leads all night and the give a powerful version of the song. The pace is relentless, the furry of Ride The Lightning with a phenomenal solo by Hammett as the rest of their band lock in providing the groundwork for him to play over to the epic and insanity filled nightmare that is Welcome Home (Sanitarium).
The crowd seems into it, they can be barley heard but enough to know they like what they hear. The band play The Four Horsemen, a song musically written by Dave Mustaine during his time with the band, as was much of the bands first record. He would use different lyrics and name the song Mechanix and put it on the first Megadeth record, the classic Killing Is My Business.
Hammett has guitar problems that render the solo inaudible and the band does not play the slower portion of the song, and the problems give it a disjointed feeling. After a minute the problems are sorted out and the band slows it down for a nice and heavy Thing That Should Not Be, a true head bangers dream, Cliff’s bass gives the song a nice fat feel. There is some tape degradation about two minutes in the last briefly and thankfully do not interfere with the song much.
Cliff gets his solo spot and plays his (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth then goes into a kinda free form thing with Lars, very effective and showcases him in a different light. The band awkwardly go into Damage Inc, a personal favorite of mine, especially live. The song is just relentless and is a soundtrack for getting trampled under hoof in deep.
The band slows it down for the last time with the ballad of suicide Fade To Black, a song of contrast with its mellow beginning that turns dark and heavy at its conclusion and a time to take a short but much needed breather. The sing along spectacular is next, a song you cannot help but to raise your fist in the air, band your head and shout SEEK AND DESTROY. Compared to much of the early songs it is simple but very heavy it features James getting some crowd interaction, you can hear the crowd shouting back, a true feat considering the power onstage.
The recording finishes with arguable the strongest song on Ride The Lightning, James gives a funny intro for the song but the music is all business. Based upon the book of Exodus and the plague that was brought upon the Egyptians, the song was written in part by Kirk Hammett who had an embryonic version in his previous band. Extremely hard and fast the song’s lyrics of brutality are brought to life the music and the band ten is a perfect version of the song.
Standard tri fold packaging adorned with photos of the band, the picture of Cliff on the inside cover with the Puppets backdrop is just how I remember him, a memory for me frozen in time. Great packaging, a hands down must have concert for those who love the early years of the band and also for the curious. Turn it up LOUD and I guarantee you for 70 minutes of head banging and air guitar playing.