Heavy metal band Metallica rocks out Wichita
Intrust Bank Arena set a record on Monday with the help of a thrash metal band that’s been around for 37 years.
Metallica’s Monday-night crowd of 15,690 was the biggest the downtown arena has seen in its nine year-history, and it busted the previous record held by country legend George Strait, who drew 14,680 fans in 2014.
The only way to get crowds that big at Wichita’s arena is to play a show in-the-round, meaning that the stage is in the center of the floor and every seat is available. That’s what Metallica did for its first show in Wichita since it played the Kansas Coliseum in 2004, and the band filled every seat and then some. The show was a sell out, arena officials said.
The diamond-shaped stage had microphones set up all around the perimeter, and the band’s members — lead singer guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo — played to fans on every side, constantly traveling around the stage. Ulrich’s purple drum set was set up in the center of the stage on a circular riser that rotated to face different sides of the crowd throughout the night.
The audience was majority male — and most of those males were wearing black T-shirts. This wasn’t a sitting-down concert. No one did, and no ushers asked anyone to. Fans, especially those standing in the mosh pit around the stage, thrashed their heads and threw up the sign of the horns. Even a uniformed sheriff’s officer spotted in the arena’s brew pub momentarily banged his head during “Master of Puppets.”
Hetfield promised at the beginning of the show to perform songs that spanned the band’s nearly four-decade career, and the they did, offering up several tracks from “Hardwired... to Self Destruct,” including the two openings songs, ““Hardwired” and “Atlas, Rise!”
He also told the crowd, that “if you’re lucky” they’d play some old stuff, and that happened, too, as the band included “Whiplash,” which was the first single Metallica released from its debut album “Kill Em All.”
The show had lots of memorable staging tricks. A collection of square four-sided screens rose and fell from above the stage throughout the show, and when the band played its 2016 hit “Moth Into Flame,” two dozen tiny lighted drones took flight from the stage and hovered over the band throughout the song.
The setlist also included some of Metallica’s more recognizable radio hits from over the years, including “One,” “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman,” the latter two of which were part of the encore.
Midway through the show, Hammet and Trujillo were on stage alone and played what Trujillo called “a song from the state” — part of “Carry On Wayward Son” from the band Kansas.
During a break, Hetfield thanked the “middle aged” people in the audience — people who were working to raise a family or buy a house.
“Man it’s not easy out there, and you’re working hard, but you decided to spend some money and buy a ticket to this show, and we appreciate you man,” he said.
He also pointed out that there were many much younger people in the audience, which had several kids attending with their parents.
Hetfield spoke from the stage to one boy in the front row, who said he was 10 years old.
“You’ve got a cool mom, I must say,” Hetfield said. “In the front row of the Metallica show. When I was 10 years old, I was not in the front row of the Metallica show, I’ll put it that way. Welcome to the family.”
Metallica setlist, Intrust Bank Arena
“Seek & Destroy”
“Through the Never”
“Now That We’re Dead”
“For Whom the Bell Tolls”
“Here Comes Revenge”
“The Memory Remains”
“Moth Into Flame”
“Sad But True”
“Master of Puppets”
“Fight Fire With Fire”
“Nothing Else Matters”