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(Full set of photos at Flickr.)

In my City Lights pick of The Sword at Rock & Roll Hotel, I didn’t really have particularly glowing things to say about Metallica. Like many metalheads, I’m a big fan of their early material, up to and actually including the Black Album, but they completely lost me after that. Death Magnetic was clearly better than any of their other recent work, but at this point I’ve moved on to other kinds of metal and was left largely unmoved by it.

Still, last night’s show proved one thing: they’ve still got the knack for performance. I didn’t have a ticket so I couldn’t stay past the first three songs that I was allowed to photograph, but from what I saw and heard, this was probably one hell of a show. Energy levels through the roof (the stage was in the round with eight mics set up in different spots, and all the band members were constantly bouncing around between them), and they sounded great. The first two songs they played were the first two songs off of Death Magnetic, and while I’m not crazy about either of them, the performances were pretty much flawless.

The crowd was into it too, all 20,000 of them – the arena was sold out all the way to the upper decks. Dinosaurs past their prime maybe, but people do love a good dinosaur, especially when they’re still this vicious.

(Full set of photos at Flickr.)