Live Review: Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Play Triumphant “S&M2” Concert (9/6)

The metal icons christen the new Chase Center with a historic show

Metallica perform "S&M2" show in San Francisco
Metallica perform “S&M2” show in San Francisco, photo by Raymond Ahner

    Setting the Stage: Earlier this year, it was announced that Bay Area thrash metal titans Metallica would be christening San Francisco’s brand-new Chase Center, the new home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. The concert, dubbed “S&M2”, would also feature the San Francisco Symphony, offering an updated version of the metal icons’ two famous concerts with the same symphony back in April 1999, during which their five-times platinum S&M album was recorded.

    The show on Friday night (September 6th) sold out in a matter of minutes, with Metallica adding a second concert for Sunday (September 8th) after it was determined that many fans didn’t get a fair chance at tickets. Fans traveled from around the globe to San Francisco to be a part of Metallica’s ongoing history with the City by the Bay, where they truly established themselves as one of metal’s greatest bands. After spending the past few months on a European leg of their ongoing “WorldWired Tour”, the two “S&M2” shows also mark a return to their home, having last played San Francisco in November 2018, where they went acoustic for a benefit for their All Within My Hands Foundation.

    Taking the Stage: At 8:45 p.m., the arena lights dimmed, and the San Francisco Symphony struck the first notes of Metallica’s longtime intro music, “The Ecstasy of Gold”. The excitement in the air was palpable, and just as the orchestra hit the final notes Metallica walked onto the stage in the round wearing all black and ready for business. The band immediately went into “The Call of Ktulu”, as the symphony surrounding the band made the instrumental sound heavier than ever.


    After “For Whom the Bells Tolls” and “The Day That Never Comes”, James Hetfield finally addressed the crowd with a simple “Hello friends,” before introducing the symphony’s conductor, Edwin Outwater. The crowd erupted, but before they were given too much of a chance to show their appreciation, Metallica got right back into the music with “The Memory Remains”, “Confusion”, and “Moth Into Flame”. As the stage slowly rotated, giving the fans enough face time with each member, Metallica wrapped up the first half of their set with “The Outlaw Torn”, No Leaf Clover”, and “Halo on Fire”, with Kirk Hammett playing his gold 1959 Les Paul known as “Greeny.” The show was not even close to being over though.

    A 20-minute intermission was just enough time for the fans to take a quick look at the shiny new arena and ponder its beer selection, but everyone managed to get back to their seats quickly, as Lars Ulrich strolled out to his drum kit, and had his turn to address the sold-out arena.

    “Well well, welcome Metallica fans,” began the drummer. “Did you have a good intermission? How f**king cool is this, having a new world-class arena right in our own backyard?” He then introduced the symphony’s Musical Director, Michael Tilson Thomas, who in turn introduced a performance of composer Alexander Mosolov’s “Iron Foundry”, which Metallica and the symphony performed together. Then, Hetfield and the symphony collaborated on a somewhat stripped down rendition of “The Unforgiven III”.


    Perhaps the highlight of the show came when Hetfield took a moment to acknowledge the late Cliff Burton (whose father Ray was in attendance) before introducing the symphony’s principal bassist ,Scott Pingel, to perform “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)” on stand-up electric bass. It showed just how well the symphony was able to relate to Metallica’s music, and afterward, Lars came out from behind his drum kit to give the bassist an emotional hug.

    Keeping the energy and electric vibe of the evening going, the band tore through “Wherever I May Roam” with the four huge multimedia rings above the stage projecting the band’s performance. Just as the final notes of the songs lingered for a split second and came to an end, the sound of machine gun fire filled the arena to signify the start of “One”, which sounded as heavy as it ever has with the strings and horns backing it up.

    Metallica wrapped up their first night at Chase Center with the the powerhouse punch of “Master of Puppets”, “Nothing Else Matters”, and “Enter Sandman”. By the time it was all said and done, there was no doubt that they were the obvious choice to open a brand new arena in their hometown.


    Fans not lucky enough to see the two “S&M2” concert performances in person will have the opportunity to see a concert film capturing the shows during a one-night only screening at theaters nationwide on October 9th. Sunday night’s “S&M2” show is also sold out, but tickets are available through StubHub.

    Photo Gallery: Metallica perform their “S&M2” show at the Chase Center in San Francisco (click to enlarge and scroll through):


    Photos by Raymond Ahner (@raymond_ahner)


    Set I:
    The Ecstasy of Gold (Ennio Morricone composition)
    The Call of Ktulu
    For Whom the Bell Tolls
    The Day That Never Comes
    The Memory Remains
    Moth Into Flame
    The Outlaw Torn
    No Leaf Clover
    Halo on Fire

    Set II:
    Scythian Suite, Op.20, Second Movement (Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev composition)
    Iron Foundry (Alexander Mosolov composition)
    The Unforgiven III
    All Within My Hands (acoustic)
    (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth
    Wherever I May Roam
    Master of Puppets
    Nothing Else Matters
    Enter Sandman (with ‘The Frayed Ends of Sanity’ outro)