Listen to Metallica Play Cleveland’s Agora Ballroom in 1983
On Dec. 18, 1983—about five months after the release of their debut record, Kill 'Em All—Metallica stormed the gates of The Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio, for a huge night of heavy metal. Unless you were one of the fans in attendance, chances are you have no idea what happened inside the walls of the storied Midwestern venue.
Getting to Ohio
The 1983 'Tallica gig marked the band's first time venturing into the state of Ohio. On the heels of releasing Kill 'Em All, Metallica hit the road with Raven as part of the Kill 'Em All For One Tour. It spanned several weeks, beginning on July 27 in New Brunswick, N.J., and wrapping up on Sept. 3 in San Francisco.
The end of the tour didn't mark the end of shows for Metallica in 1983, though.
Near the end of November, after playing a show at The Stone in San Francisco, they started to make their way across the country. They hit Madison, Wisc., on Dec. 14 and Chicago on Dec. 15 before arriving in Cleveland a few days later. After that, they headed to the East Coast; their final two shows of the year were in New Jersey and New York.
You can read about the history of The Agora here, which includes a great story about Huey Lewis writing "The Heart of Rock & Roll" after being inspired by the Cleveland fans at the venue (about a year before Metallica came to town).
The Agora show was sponsored by nearby record store Chris' Warped Records and featured local rockers Breaker opening the night. Advance tickets were six bucks and you could grab one at the door for an extra dollar.
Listen to the Show
As you might expect, the quality of the recording of the show isn't comparable to what Metallica release today, but it's still an historic document of a heavy, raw performance of the early days of the thrash legends. Their 13-song set nearly covered the entire Kill 'Em All tracklist, save for "Motorbreath," and also included some songs that would wind up on 1984's Ride the Lightning, like "Creeping Death" and "Fight Fire With Fire."
And if you scan the setlist and scratch your head over a song called "When Hell Freezes Over" that was played in-between "Phantom Lord" and "No Remorse," don't worry: Once you hear the song, you'll soon realize that was the working title for what would eventually become the haunting classic, "The Call of Ktulu."
If you're a subscriber to nugs.net, you can access this particular concert as well as several (several!) others from Metallica. If you're not a subscriber, as mentioned earlier, LiveMetallica.com has the show for purchase and you can even stream short teases of each song.
Of course, you can stream it on YouTube, too. The unofficial broadcast is below:
Metallica Setlist — Dec. 18, 1983 at The Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio
1. "Hit the Lights"
2. "The Four Horsemen"
3. "Jump in the Fire"
4. "Fight Fire With Fire"
5. "Ride the Lightning"
6. "Phantom Lord"
7. "When Hell Freezes Over"
8. "No Remorse"
9. "Seek & Destroy"
10. "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth"
12. "Creeping Death"
13. "Metal Militia"