METALLICA: A Tale From The Photo Pit


Kirk Hammett/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Metallica. The name says it all. Coming live to Southern California in my favorite town, San Diego. I’ve been a longtime fan of this band since 1983.

You can’t imagine the thrill it was to get the approval to shoot and cover the show. Not knowing what to expect from the venue (Petco Park) or the band, I was as ready as I could have been.

Kirk Hammett/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Driving to downtown San Diego I went early knowing there were going to be 50,000 plus fans going to the outdoor area. After I parked, I walked around the city until it was time to check in.

At the venue, I met up with a couple of friends and fellow photographers that were also covering the show. Once we had checked in and received our credentials, we waited to be escorted to the floor to shoot the opening bands Gojira and Avenged Sevenfold.

METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

James Hetfield/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Then as we waited for Metallica, the excitement was growing for all of us. When it was time to walk back down to the photo pit, my fellow photographers and I fist bumped each other as if we were going onstage.

The lights went down and we heard Metallica’s signature intro theme song starting to play, “The Ecstasy of Gold” from the movie “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

The band opened their set with “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” sending the crowd into a frenzy while towering video screens over 100 feet high showed the band playing.

The most difficult thing about photographing Metallica was working with the stage that goes into the center of the crowd, known as The Snake Pit (where Metallica fans stand in the middle of an opening of a ramp that goes into the crowd). The Snake Pit ramp was at my eyelevel, which is pretty high, but for a big stadium area it’s common.

METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Lars Ulrich/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Getting to shoot the first three songs, “Hardwired”, “Atlas, Rise!” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was challenging, but rewarding. After the shoot, I had to remove my camera from the premises before I could go back in to watch the rest of the show.

Metallica had a great mix of new and old songs. During a new song, “Now That We’re Dead”, all four band members played a Taiko drum (Japanese style drum) solo.

For the song “One” which is known for opening with battle sounds, pyrotechnics and fireworks were added to the war sounds that went around the stadium. Such a great visual for the fans.

METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

Robert Trujillo/METALLICA; photo Reuben Martinez

But playing classics such as “Master of Puppets” and “Fade to Black” it was obvious they were crowd favorites. Everyone was singing word for word. It was great watching the band play these songs, which still hold up, and watching the crowd react. It just made the experience even more enjoyable.

The band finished with “Seek & Destroy” from their first album Kill ’em All. As they left stage the crowd knew they were coming back. Obviously, a huge band in a huge venue, they had to please. And they did.

First song of the encore was a classic thrash song from the early days, “Fight Fire With Fire”, followed by two radio favorites, classics “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman” as well as a huge firework finale.

Metallica has over 30 years as a band and they still sound great and are great musicians. Solid as ever, the WorldWired Tour continues with SOLD OUT shows until May 2018. This band has made their mark on music and influenced many in the industry. And the joy of capturing it on camera is absolutely one of the highlights in my life.