Welcome to the Trending Pop Culture movie reviews. Metallica & San Francisco Symphony – S&M2 , limited release in theaters October 9, 2019.
What is it about? On October 9, 2019, Trafalgar Releasing presents S&M2, a must-see celebration of the 20th anniversary of Metallica’s groundbreaking S&M concerts and album recorded with the San Francisco Symphony. See them once again perform with the Symphony as legendary conductor Michael Tilson Thomas leads a portion of the show, kicking off his final season in San Francisco. Recorded live on September 6th and 8th, the shows also commemorate the opening of the state-of-the-art Chase Center, a historic addition to the city’s waterfront. Including several tracks from the original ’99 S&M release as well as symphonic versions of new songs released since then, this theatrical release gives millions of fans around the world the chance to eclipse time and experience the show as a modern-day big screen concert.
Review: (unlike all of the other movie reviews on Trending Pop Culture, this review will consist of personal memories and views)
Wow, what a treat. There aren’t enough positive words within the English language to describe the amazing 2 hour and 30 minute journey on October 9 2019, at a theater in West Palm Beach Florida at 7pm. “Wow” comes to mind. Excellence is another word.
Let’s roll back a little bit before gushing more about this film. In 1986 I was first introduced to the powerful chords of the song Master Of Puppets. I remember a friend saying, hey, listen to this. Hearing it through their Sony Walkman headphones. Want to venture a guess what I said after the song was over? “Wow”. Then I said, “Holy sh*t, who is this?”. Well, the rest is history. I instantly went out and bought up Metallica’s previously cassette tapes; Ride The Lightning and Kill Em All. I became a fan for life. Never heard such a distinctive sound like theirs. The sound so powerful, yet so melodic. It was like I discovered music for the first time again. The music inspired me so much so that I went to school to earn a recording engineer degree. After schooling, I followed the money and went to Wall Street for the next 14 years and the inspiration to be a part of the music industry was not in the cards for me. However, I continued to purchase and follow Metallica every chance I had. The music has and will always be background music in my life. When lacing up in my Brooklyn apartment in New York before my hockey games, Seek & Destroy would get my blood going. A war cry. Let the battle begin.
In 1999 Metallica debuted their S&M album. The sounds of Metallica along with the San Francisco Symphony. A match made in heaven. Although being honest, being the musical connoisseur I am, I heard the mixture of Heavy Metal and symphony music years prior with a band named Savatage. They were grossly underrated and overlooked. Those guys were and still are amazing musicians. Band leader, Paul O’Neil, created Trans Siberian Orchestra in 1996. Three years prior to Metallica’s S&M. TSO consisted of classical music mixed with the Heavy Metal sound. Mostly Christmas classics and some original pieces. Although Savatage is no more, TSO is a main staple every year around the holiday’s in an arena near you. I have had the distinct pleasure of watching TSO perform twice with their bombastic sounds accompanied with the violins, brass section, etc. Amazing show that you must see during the holiday season. Again….wow.
Now, before metalheads lose their panties, I am not saying Metallica stole any idea or S&M is not original or taking anything away from their accomplishment with S&M. The S&M project lives on its own merit. Mentioning Savatage/TSO is simple recognition of a band(s) that created something similar, in a very good way, not a fly by night, lallygag way. Savatage/TSO kicked some major ass and still do so. But, I cannot without a clear conscious, not mention what I heard a few years prior to Metallica’s S&M debut. We must always give kudos and recognize those we know of or knew of before. Maybe, most likely, there were bands even prior to Savatage/TSO that combined the symphony with metal. I’m not even sure, I speak of what I first heard back in the mid 90’s.
Metallica’s S&M2 is a masterpiece of a concert/music film. At the very start of the film, the audience is educated on a charity Metallica hold very close to their vest; All Within My Hands. The narrative was explained quite clearly and the audience is left with a full understanding of how much this means to the Metallica boys. All Within My Hands is a non-profit organization that helps with workforce education, fighting hunger and other critical local services. Please visit the page and read about how the band contributes to this amazing cause.
After the All Within My Hands piece fades, we come to an explanation from the band, the San Francisco Symphony conductor Edwin Outwater and musical director Michael Tilson Thomas about how the S&M2 collaboration came together. Although very interesting, it was the first of two times the audience in the theater became visibly antsy. Notable through the screams of Metallica!! throughout the narration. It probably wasn’t as long as it felt for this reviewer, but I too needed some Metallica.
Sitting in the theater was surreal for one reason. It was the first time in my life I was seated in a movie theater and felt as though I was at a concert, but I obliviously wasn’t. The Metallica Through the Never film ALMOST felt this way, but didn’t quite make it past the story that was going on. This film however, it was a concert. I full fledged, intimate, concert in a movie theater in West Palm Beach Florida. Fans screaming, singing and headbanging. There was discussion as to where the mosh pit would form prior to the lights dimming. In my mind, I was secretly hoping it would have happened.
From the onset, hearing Metallica’s signature intro; The Ecstasy of Gold, the theater went nuts. What followed thereafter was very interesting. Metallica and the SF Symphony went right into The Call of Ktulu. It’s not the song that was so interesting, but we didn’t hear lead singer James Hetfield’s growl for a very good while, the band showcased their instrumental talents right along with the gracefulness of the symphony for quite some time. I actually thought there could be no singing for the entire show after the 9th minute ticked. I would not have minded at all either, it was beautiful melodic music. When their opening number ended, the performers blasted right into For Whom The Bell Tolls. Yes, everyone sang along, including myself. The night was young and it was ripe to get better and better. There were four giant rings above the stage displaying video as the music played. It was visually satisfying and not all that necessary in the grand scheme of things. I was there for music, not to watch cool colors or video playing of solders moving in line as One played.
The major singalong came during the nights 5th offering, The Memory Remains (See video below for an excerpt of this moment). Never did I ever think in 1986, I’d be sitting in a movie theater 1,227.2 miles away in Brooklyn New York (yes actual mileage) singing a la-la-la part with strangers in a dark room watching Metallica. It was a reverting moment in the theater. Chills were present, the hairs on my arm were standing up.
Some serious headbanging came during the nights 7th song; Moth Into Flame. Although one of Metallica’s later songs within their catalog, it has some very serious marching riffs in it. So much so that the audience in the theater were headbanging so hard and I honestly thought, yep this is where the mosh pit forms. It has to. It it doesn’t now, it won’t happen here tonight. Disappointingly it never materialized.
Three songs later, the first set was over. It felt a bit fast. Enjoying the moments too much, that’s why.
The second set started with the San Francisco Symphony showcasing their amazing talents without the band. They played; Scythian Suite, Op.20 , Second Movement; by Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev. A beautiful piece. The SFS then played (covered) an original piece by Alexander Mosolov; Iron Foundry with the band. A ramped uptempo piece that had many fans screaming Metallica!!
Things seemed a bit slower in the second half. Audience members wanted to rock out with some familiarity. Ants in the pants part two. Understandable, but most have to realize they were being treated with an ooze of musical brilliance here. This wasn’t just thrown together, this was pure classic, etched in time moments from one of the greatest rock bands to have ever graced a stage along with the brilliance of classically trained musicians of the San Francisco Symphony. Poetry here. The audience was then turned to familiarity when the bassist of the SFS came on stage to play one of the most amazing covers of the late Cliff Burton (Metallica bassist who died in 1986) to a musical masterpiece; (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth. It was mind blowing how rich it came across. Close your eyes and Cliff was in the house. Drummer Lars Ulrich joined in the last third of the cover. Simply outstanding.
Finishing out after the show; Wherever I May Roam, One (singalong in the theater), Master of Puppets (another singalong), Nothing Else Matters. The night ended with Enter Sandman. Theater screaming “Exit light, exit night…..we’re off to never never land!”
Never have I ever had so much fun in a movie theater watching a film. Now I know what it must have been like for the Rocky Picture Horror Show fans. Everyone participating, as a unit, as one. All there to have a fun time, no bs.
Band members were 100% on point, as usual. I cannot think or recall a moment in time these guys had a bad performance. Lead singer James Hetfield, dare I say it, almost sounds better vocally today than he ever has in his entire career. Lars Ulrich pounds feverishly on the drums as though he’s a teen again. As always sounding great. Guitarist Kirk Hammett is brilliant in every way possible. An amazingly disciplined player along with his amazingly disciplined counterparts. Robert Trujillo (bassist) adds the much needed thumping in the background. We all love Rob.
If you are on the fence about seeing this film, get up and go. If you’re a music fan and like rock and roll, go. If you’re not sure what Metallica is or what they are or what they sound like, go. This film is shear brilliance and features the best rock band that has ever played. Ever. Yes, I said it.
TPC Rating: 5 Trending Arrows up (out of 5) from Trending Pop Culture.
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