Metallica: Orgullo Pasión y Gloria. Tres Noches en la Ciudad de México

Metallica: Orgullo Pasión y Gloria. Tres Noches en la Ciudad de México

Recorded at Foro Sol, Mexico City, Mexico, on June 4, 6 and 7, 2009, “Orgullo, Pasión, y Gloria: Tres Noches en la Ciudad de México” presents Metallica at the peak of its World Magnetic Tour.

'It's What Keeps Us Alive'

Bob Gendron

5 Min Read

Little about Metallica’s formative days hinted that the group was already charting its every move and documenting each step for future purposes. The youthful members looked as menacing and resistant as they sounded. Their acne-splotched faces, worn denim jackets, long hair and bullet belts conveyed the same darkness and danger embodied by the high-school druggies-stoners and dropouts parents warned their own kids to avoid. The quartet’s music proved equally intimidating. 

Raw, intense and designed to rip the flesh off anyone within earshot (or at least leave them with a sore neck from relentless headbanging) Metallica’s songs rebelled, confronted and pledged no remorse — not exactly the kind of fare then associated with mannered appreciation or serious critical discussion. Outsiders in what passed for a commercial metal scene, Metallica lived a fringe existence in underground labyrinths populated by D.I.Y. fanzines, independent record stores and dingy clubs. 

Yet except for the Grateful Dead, aided in the endeavor by its ardent followers, no band predating the ‘90s kept a more detailed and thorough account of its entire history. Though the advent of the Internet later transformed how artists chronicled their accounts and communicated with fans — developments that coincided with pop culture placing an increased value on everything from gig posters to performances themselves — Metallica began long before such tools became available. 

From its onset, the group recorded random information and thoughts in spiral notebooks and on scraps of paper. And Metallica possessed the foresight to save it all. Correspondence with record labels and managers; tour receipts; datebooks; song ideas; proposals; lyric sketches; agreements; concert logs; handwritten setlists; newsletters; itineraries; scribbled exchanges with friends: the sort of ephemera that now sells to the highest bidder at auction houses and  gets put in traveling museum exhibits. Did Metallica’s attentiveness suggest an inflated sense of importance? Perhaps. More than anything, however, it demonstrated an advanced level of care and commitment most bands, particularly in their nascent period, choose to neglect.

What’s most impressive is that, nearly three decades after its humble origins, Metallica hadn’t lost sight of taking such personal oversight of its day-to-day operations. Hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, tens of millions of album sales and a jillion magazine profiles later, the group could afford to coast on prior achievements and repeat the same concert every night. Many artists opt for that easy route. But drummer Lars Ulrich and Co. would have none of it.

Filmed during three shows from Mexico City in June 2009, “Orgullo, Pasión, y Gloria: Tres Noches en la Ciudad de México” presents Metallica in the throes of its World Magnetic Tour. A variety of non-concert footage is interspersed with the performances. None comes across as more revealing than a sequence depicting Ulrich poring over every last stitch of a setlist as if the group’s career depends on it. Scrutinizing the document with two assistants two hours before showtime, black pen in hand, the drummer-archivist plays editor-in-chief, scratching out lines and jotting down new titles as he muses about pyrotechnics and sequencing.

“Changing the setlist every night, that’s actually for us,” Ulrich says as we see one of the assistants scurry back to production with his initial adjustments. “We’ve been doing it for about six years. It’s what keeps us alive.” 

Moments later, Metallica is seen rehearsing in a small space an hour before hitting the stage. Ulrich produces the freshly printed setlist and again, proposes amendments. His bandmates approve. Deja vu ensues as an assistant races to communicate the last-minute decisions to the production team to ensure everything is ready for the concert. Think what you want about Ulrich’s control-freak personality and taskmaster seriousness. Neither detract from the admirable end goal: Keeping Metallica sharp and preventing it from becoming overly predictable.

In the film, Ulrich admits the quartet was “too well-oiled” in the ‘90s. He laments that the polished approach caused Metallica to lose some of its human elements and imperfections — essential characteristics of all great rock ‘n’ roll. Though it can be argued that routine and complacency didn’t creep into Metallica’s universe until the mid-’90s, the band’s strategy of shaking things up onstage helped it transform into a live juggernaut whose quantitative success is rivaled only by U2. 

As evidenced by “Orgullo, Pasión, y Gloria: Tres Noches en la Ciudad de México,” Metallica’s decision to challenge itself on the road also yields artistic benefits. A majority of the performances teem with controlled energy, power and feeling. The appearance of a stamina-testing “Disposable Heroes” — which, in a brilliant conceptual stroke, precedes and dovetails with the corresponding war-themed “One” — and early deep cuts (“Fight Fire with Fire,” “Ride the Lightning”) coincide with jolting renditions of staples (“Creeping Death”) and rarities (a cover of Killing Joke’s “The Wait”). 

Many songs are supersized for the stadium environment, and the 50,000-plus in attendance appear eager to assist singer-guitarist James Hetfield with the words. The in-disbelief expressions on the faces of the band members — combined with the mania of the crowd — confirm Ulrich’s tireless efforts to record the group’s legacy as prophetic. What transpires is an equal partnership between Metallica and the audience, with heavy metal as the shared language.

“Orgullo, Pasion, y Gloria: Tres Noches en la Ciudad de México” Setlist

  1. Intro: The Ecstasy of Gold 

  2. Creeping Death

  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls

  4. Ride the Lightning

  5. Disposable Heroes

  6. One

  7. Broken, Beat & Scarred

  8. The Memory Remains

  9. Sad But True

  10. The Unforgiven

  11. All Nightmare Long

  12. The Day That Never Comes

  13. Master of Puppets

  14. Fight Fire with Fire

  15. Nothing Else Matters

  16. Enter Sandman

  17. The Wait

  18. Hit the Lights

  19. Seek & Destroy 

Bob Gendron has been obsessing over music, albums and audio ever since he landed a job at an indie record store at age 13. A longtime contributor to the Chicago Tribune and the first Associate Editorial Director at The Coda Collection, he was also the longtime Music Editor at The Absolute Sound and performed the same role at TONEAudio. Gendron is the author of “Gentlemen” (Bloomsbury) and a coauthor of “Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History” (Voyageur). His writing has also appeared in DownBeat, Rolling Stone, Revolver and other outlets.

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