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10 Awesome Metallica Live Performances

Awesome Live Performances by Metallica
Mike Barrett, Loudwire

In Metallica‘s first-ever full-length feature film, ‘Metallica: Through The Never,’ the legendary metal band performs an epic concert in the midst of apocalyptic destruction. With a massive stage set-up and a near-flawless set list, Metallica prove why they’re one of the greatest bands in rock history, whether they’re performing live or on the big screen.

In honor of the release of ‘Metallica: Through The Never,’ we pick 10 of our favorite moments in the history of Metallica’s live shows. Our picks span decades and continents and help solidify the band as one of the best live shows you’ll ever see. Check out our list of 10 Awesome Metallica Live Performances:

Tushino Airfield

Moscow Russia
Sept. 28, 1991

It’s impossible to look at Metallica’s concert history without taking a trip to Russia. On Sept 28, 1991, at the Monsters of Rock Festival at Tushino Airfield in Moscow, one of the biggest concerts in the history of the world went down. With attendance estimates ranging anywhere from 500,000 to 2 million screaming fans, ‘Tallica put on one hell of a show. Opening with ‘Enter Sandman’ and closing with ‘Battery’ – with more than a few classics sprinkled in-between – this is easily one of the most epic live performances of all time


Bader Field

Atlantic City, New Jersey
June 23, 2012

No talk of Metallica’s awesome live performances is complete until you discuss the opening night of the first annual Orion Music + More festival. Held at Bader Field in Atlantic City, Metallica put together a huge two-day festival full of classic cars, horror memorabilia and non-stop music. History went down as Metallica played ‘Ride the Lightning’ in its entirety, from back to front. While that was historical in its own right, the real mind-blower happened when the band tore into ‘Escape,’ a song they had never played live until that very moment.


The Fillmore

San Francisco, California
December 2011

For four nights in mid-December, Metallica packed the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco to celebrate their 30th anniversary of rocking the globe. These four shows, exclusive to Met Club members, were packed with once-in-a-lifetime performances and guest appearances, including Kid Rock, Lou Reed, Jerry Cantrell, Rob Halford and more. Not only were there A-list guests, but ‘Tallica also debuted a new song each night; those four songs would then make up the ‘Beyond Magnetic’ EP. These shows would prove to be memorable beyond belief for those in attendance.


The Stone

San Francisco, California
March 5, 1983

Over 30 years ago, Metallica played a very important show at the Stone, a tiny club that played a significant role in the Bay Area metal scene. It was an important gig because it would be the band’s first live performance with bassist Cliff Burton. This show would prove to any doubters that Metallica had the on-stage presence that commanded respect and demanded headbanging. While there is no video footage from this specific show, there is fortunately footage from the same club two weeks later, and there’s no ignoring the chemistry that Burton brought to the stage.


Belle Isle

Detroit, Michigan
June 8, 2013

It’s hard to ignore the second year of Metallica’s Orion Music + More fest when discussing their most awesome live performances ever. Originally slated to only play one night of the two-day festival, Metallica surprised everyone when they took the stage during the afternoon of the first day and performed ‘Kill ‘Em All’ from start to finish. Disguised as the band Dehaan, ‘Tallica shredded renditions of ‘Hit the Lights,’ ‘Jump in the Fire’ and ‘Whiplash’ to a stunned crowd. If you were lucky enough to get to the stage in time, you won’t likely forget what you witnessed.



Whisky a Go-Go

West Hollywood, California
December 14, 1995

In celebration of one of their biggest idol’s birthday, Metallica took the stage at the Whisky a Go-Go as a new band, aptly called The Lemmys. With each member decked out to look exactly like Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, they tore into classic tunes in honor of the legendary frontman’s 50th birthday. Opening with ‘Overkill’ and closing the set with ‘(We Are) The Road Crew,’ this would be The Lemmys one and only live performance.


San Diego Sports Arena

San Diego, California
January 13, 1992

As part of the unbelievably high-quality live box set, ‘Live Sh*t: Binge & Purge,’ Metallica’s performance of the ‘Justice Medley’ is one of the all-time coolest live moments ever. Metallica threw five tunes from ‘…And Justice for All’ – including the rarely played live title track – together in a nearly 10 minute long medley. Whether you were in San Diego and experienced it first-hand or picked up the ‘Binge & Purge’ box set after the fact, the ‘Justice Medley’ will go down in history as one of Metallica’s most awesome live performances.


Bemowo Airport

Warsaw, Poland
June 16, 2010

As with most of Metallica’s awesome live performances, history was made on June 16, 2010 in Poland. For the first time in the history of metal, Metallica shared the stage with Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, forming The Big 4. Just a few days later in Sofia, Bulgaria, director Nick Wickham captured the power of this concert for the whole world to see.


The Basement (Grimey’s)

Nashville, Tennessee
June 12, 2008

In what might be one of the most intimate shows in the history of Metallica, the band played to a packed house at a venue called The Basement, which sits below Nashville’s Grimey’s New & Preloved Music store. With a capacity of 150, this show proves that no matter how big Metallica get, they don’t forget how cool small shows are to fans. Keeping in line with the underground feel of the show, Metallica released the live recording of the concert, ‘Live at Grimey’s,’ on both CD and 10″ vinyl exclusively at independent record stores. Oh, and the day after this show, they headlined Bonnaroo. From a small club to one of the biggest music festivals in the country, Metallica seem to always have something up their sleeve when it comes to awesome live performances.


Radio City

Anaheim, California
March 14, 1982

Metallica’s first concert ever is easily one of the most awesome live performances by the band, because without it, who knows where they would be today? James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Dave Mustaine and original bassist Ron McGovney were the line-up that fateful night. According to Hetfield, he had not started playing rhythm guitar yet, so he was focused solely on singing. Playing only two original tunes – ‘Hit the Lights’ and ‘Jump in the Fire’ – the boys jammed on covers in their nine song set, closing with their rendition of Sweet Savage’s ‘Killing Time.’ While there is no footage from this inaugural Metallica show, enjoy the band jamming on ‘Killing Time’ nearly 30 years later.


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