What happened at Metallica's intimate gig in Hollywood?

Metallica performing live
Metallica, live at The Fonda Theatre, 2016 (Image credit: Stephanie Cabral)

Fresh off of a pummeling six-song set for the Jimmy Kimmel Live show the day before, Metallica arrive at the Fonda Theatre tonight for an intimate gig (club capacity: 1,200) to benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. This evening also marks the band’s second-to-last gig of 2016 and tomorrow’s Oakland show will be their last scheduled US performance until they headline Rock On The Range in May.

(Image credit: Stephanie Cabral)

Taking the stage just before 9:30, the band rip straight into Breadfan, setting the tone for what will be a career-spidering, fan-friendly setlist. Though we’re at the embryonic stages of a new album cycle for Hardwired… To Self-Destruct, the Bay Area titans sound polished, virile and extra-heavy. In the highly intimate confines of the Fonda, the material taps into a leaner and more aggressive energy – tempos gallop with greater abandon, Kirk Hammett’s solos erupt into kaleidoscopic bursts of finger-blurring fretboard heroics and local hero Rob Trujillo menacingly prowls the perimeter, administering thundering bass lines of wall trembling ferocity. Guitar slung low and grinning triumphantly between his oohs and yeahs, James Hetfield might be having more fun than anyone in the theatre. On more than one occasion, Lars excitedly flees his drum stool to lay into his cymbals from the front. There’s a playful, easy vibe between the band and audience tonight that invest shows of this size with such unique and utterly infectious vitality.

(Image credit: Stephanie Cabral)

After blazing through Creeping Death and Metal Militia, from Kill ‘Em All, James deadpans, “I don’t feel fifty-three. Should we go heavy? (cue crowd going ape-shit) Let’s finally do something heavy!” They then lay into the crunchy, lumbering stomp of Sad But True. The setlist includes staples like Enter Sandman and a roof-destroying Master Of Puppets, plus Harvester Of Sorrow and For Whom The Bell Tolls. New material like Moth To Flame and Hardwired dovetail seamlessly into the classics and Atlas, Rise! emerges as a horn-throwing highlight, the crowd joyfully roaring every lyric along with James. From the uppermost recesses of the balcony straight through to the stage barricade, the Los Angeles crowd lose their collective mind seconds into the opener, their wits not to be recovered for two surging, neck-snapping hours.

(Image credit: Stephanie Cabral)

If the new album revealed that Metallica still have plenty of petrol in their creative tanks, tonight’s show has established that Metallica remain one of the best live bands on the planet. Energetic and unrelenting, with a furiously-paced setlist that neatly balances the non-negotiable live fare with fan-freaking deep cuts, tonight’s performance is one for the ages. More soon, please!


  1. Breadfan
  2. Creeping Death
  3. Metal Militia
  4. Sad But True
  5. Fade To Black
  6. Atlas, Rise!
  7. Harvester Of Sorrow
  8. Moth To Flame
  9. One
  10. Master Of Puppets
  11. For Whom The Bell Tolls
  12. Enter Sandman
  13. Whiskey In The Jar
  14. Hardwired
  15. Seek And Destroy

All photos by Stephanie Cabral.

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.