Summer Sanitarium Tour, Coliseum, Los Angeles

[a]Metallica[/a] go soft in the LA heat...

Duck! Incoming! It’s the Summer Sanitarium Tour, and in the run-up to [a]Metallica[/a]’s headlining performance, is dodging lemons, half-full beer cups and firecrackers, the first two being tossed among the 70,000 gathered at an alarming rate. And if that isn’t enough, more breasts than Kentucky Fried Chicken at tea-time are being flashed for the gawking, grizzly, mostly male punters.

You can’t really blame their debauchery, though. Wise planning dictated that the biggest show of the summer occur in the same place as the LA street race, on the same day – and, after spending hours in a car stuck in traffic jams, or driving in circles looking for a place to leave your car, safe or not, most people have gone a bit loopy. And Korn just played too.

Set against a backdrop of twilight, flames raging beneath their metallic logo, not since the days of ‘Braveheart’ has a bagpipe solo been such a terrifying rallying cry. As leather-kilted frontman Jonathan Davis, the devilish pied piper, leads his way into ‘Shoots & Ladders’ backed by the pigtailed Korn massive, the Coliseum is introduced to mayhem: the field is awash with dozens of seething slamfest pits and, for the first time ever, moshing and crowd-surfing up the stadium bleachers is a go.

“When I say, ‘Are you ready?’, I want every one of you motherfuckers to go crazy!” screams Davis to the thousands who are, completely and utterly, the Korn faithful. In a set of epic proportions, especially during ‘Freak On A Leash’, the masses show they are almost as rabid and utterly frightening as the decibel-defying, screaming, pre-teen, mall-loving *NSync fans. Korn love every minute of it too. Though we still have [a]Metallica[/a] to go, Korn are so aggressively gargantuan, they are already giving the metalheads a run for their money.

With the state of [a]Metallica[/a], though – the lawsuit-happy, perennial-back-problem, Beverly Hills dads – Korn may not have to race much longer.

A straight rock show with the addition of only video screens and basic pyrotechnics sees Lars, James, Kirk and Jason storm, stomp and march across their hometown stage to a series of microphones set up along the front to allow different sides of the stadium to see them. And in the case of frontman James Hetfield, we see him grimace, visibly in pain, so much so that, for one number, Jason takes over vocal duties, allowing Hetfield to go backstage and ease his weary joints.

Back in action, though, they kick their way through ‘Master Of Puppets’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters’. It’s aging, perennial pop- (as in dad-) rock, and while the crowd drowns out James‘ vocals on tracks like ‘Seek & Destroy’ and ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’, it’s somewhat lacklustre. It’s all in the name of sentiment and novelty, it seems, even if drummer Lars Ulrich can pull faces with the best of them. And when it comes time for the fireworks to signal the show’s close with ‘One’, [a]Metallica[/a] leave us softer and lighter than ever before. But hey, it works for the Stones.