Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

December 29, 2012

Metallica ~ S&M (live)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: thrash, heavy metal, symphonic, live
Label: Elektra
Year: 1999
Home: San Francisco

Members: James Hetfield ~ vocals/rhythm guitar
Kirk Hammett ~ lead guitar
Jason Newsted ~ bass/b. vocals
Lars Ulrich ~ drums

Guests: Michael Kamen ~ conductor
David Teie principal, Richard Andaya, Barara Bogatin, Jill Rachuy Brindel, David Goldblatt ~ cello
Jeremy Constant concertmaster, Daniel Banner, Enrique Bocedi, Paul Brancato, Catherine Down, Bruce Freifeld, Connie Gantsweg, Michael Gerling, Frances Jeffrey, Robert Zelnick, Yukiko Kamei, Naomi Kazama, Kum Mo Kim,Gurthanthaclops Yasuko Hattori, Melissa Kleinbart, Chumming Mo Kobialka, Daniel Kobialka, Rudolph Kremer, Kelly Leon-Pearce, Diane Nicholeris, Florin Parvulescu, Anne Pinsker, Victor Romasevich, Philip Santos, Peter Shelton ~ violins
Don Ehrlich, Gina Feinauer, David Gaudry, Christina King, Yun Jie Liu, Seth Mausner, Nanci Severance, Geraldine Walther ~ violas
Chris Bogios, Glenn Fischthal, Andrew McCandless, Craig Morris ~ trumpets
John Engelkes, Tom Hornig, Paul Welcomer, Jeff Budin ~ trombones
Stephen Paulson, Steven Dibner, Rob Weir, Steven Braunstein ~ bassoons
Julie Ann Giacobassi, Eugene Izotov, Pamela Smith ~ oboes
Eric Achen, Joshua Garrett, Douglas Hull, Jonathan Ring, Bruce Roberts, Robert Ward, James Smelser ~ French horns
Russ deLuna ~ English horn
Linda Lukas, Tim Day, Robin McKee ~ flutes
David Neuman, Carey Bell, Luis Beez, Ben Friemuth ~ clarinet
Catherine Payne ~ piccolo
Peter Wahrhaftig ~ tuba
Charles Chandler, Laurence Epstein, Chris Gilbert, William Ritchen, Stephen Tramontozzi, S. Mark Wright ~ double bass
Anthony J. Cirone, Ray Froelich, Thomas Hemphill, Artie Storch – percussion
David Herbert ~ timpani
Douglas Rioth ~ harp
Robin Sutherland ~ keyboards

I'm not a fan of revues on Broadway, that is shows that aren't truly Broadway shows in the traditional sense of the term. I mean, those shows where the music wasn't written for the stage but gathers songs from the career of a musician/band or a group of them & puts it together like a stew, changing their original meanings via a potentially weak story. Examples include Mama Mia for Abba, Movin' Out for Billy Joel & Rock Of Ages for the 80's. These pull audiences in to hear music you love done in a way you might not love once you suffer through two hours, with a story you don't care about & characters that are as flat as paper ... not even 20 lb paper. Or, that's been my experience of these farces called Broadway shows with tickets as expensive as the real thing. Though I might not like them I've had an idea for a revue that I think would be interesting & have real potential ... or certainly drum up controversy. I haven't a clue what the story would be about, as the songs tend to be a little bit too much groin oriented & that doesn't create too create much diversity to work with ... but then, the story doesn't really matter in these revues. That is Kiss. Yes, put Kiss on Broadway. I mean, they've done worse with all the merchandising. If it fails they embarressed themselves decades ago so nobody will notice the difference. & it'll be one more opportunity for Gene Simmons to say something incredibly stupid. Of course, you'd have to work with the music fleshing it out, give it a stage feeling as rock music doesn't always work with a direct jump. Rock music, except for Genesis, isn't meant for sitting quietly & listening. What would the Kiss Broadway show sound like? In my mind it would sound exactly what Metallica created with S&M, the album where they played live with the San Francisco Symphony. It would open up not with an overture, something I think is out of fashion for the stage, but an instrumental opening such as Metallica's standard opening "The Ecstasy Of Gold" by Morricone followed by "The Call Of The Ktulu". The songs following would turn well-known melody lines into string & horn flourishes with lots of nuances not previously there. To say the result would have fleshed out songs is a bit of an understatement as the reworked songs would now be stuffed silly with notes ... maybe too stuffed at times, like when you fall asleep after Thanksgiving dinner. Though, the problem would be in replacing a twin guitar attack with a symphony of how many instruments? Two guitars can have a clean sound but two guitars plus a symphony can often verge on cacophonic & distracting. At the same time, the new symphonic approach would also temper some of the harshness & anger for a wider audience. The music would still be dark, but in a tamer more theatrical way. The Sunday mantinee retiree set probably don't want to see an angry young man show. The songs would also be, on the whole, longer than their originals to allow lots of stage movement & big dance numbers. Though, after awhile the audience might stop paying attention to the music as it goes on a bit too long. There also comes another problem in that stronger singing is needed to combat the waterfall of music. The lone voice of Workshop actor James Hetfield gets lost in the now overflowing mountain of sound, so what was originally a focus of the song is now just another noisy moment. A strength has become a weakness sadly. Of course, one can imagine for this new revue, that some songs would be great for the stage. "The Thing That Should Never Be" is custom made for a chase scene, even leading into the bad guy's cackling spotlight moment ... even if actor Hetfield, is he Equity?, is a little stiff & the dialogue pushing it a bit trying to be overly dramatic when it was already. Then there's "Hero Of The Day" leading into "Devil's Dance" where our story's characters contemplate their state of affairs as we near intermission. There is a problem in Act I with the music & story seeming to drag. It doesn't feel like just the first half as the audience is so exhausted they think the show is done. The lack of emotional oomph for music flourish & lengthy songs doesn't help in the least the script. Act II also needs re-writing as it shouldn't open with a dragging "Nothing Else Matters" that goes on for a bit, at least to "Until It Sleeps". Things do pick up with the Metropolis-esque "Human". Where does this song come from? It's great! The emotional push of the second act needs some tightening up, but the flow of the songs is nearly perfect. A medley would have been cool versus a ten minute "Outlaw Torn". The ending needs to be, obviously, big. "Enter Sandman", "One" & closing on "Battery" is not big when you rip the soul from the most overheard songs of the band. The only climax is that the audience regocnizes the songs. Though, sadly, for the Metallica revue, like every good revue - famous songs, bad versions. Check out "Fuel", "Human", "Sad But True", "One" & "The Memory Remains" for the heaviest moments. The last song before intermission "Bleeding Me" might be the most emotional & tender moment, along with "Hero Of The Day". It's interesting to note how many of the good moments come from the oft cricized Load & Reload. Time for a re-evaluation? As for how these revue versions compare to the originals. This is thrash for people who don't like thrash ... most of a typical Broadway audience, I bet. Basically, this is metal with a faux-heaviness, i.e. no guts but lots of flash to make you think it has guts. You won't be able to headbang, or even dance, to any of it. Don't expect to be singing this around the piano at a Christopher Street bar. I just want to know if the audiences for the Workshop performances of this future Broadway show were shocked or enthused or just confused? The New York Times is still silent on the matter.

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