Metallica at Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, NY on August 11, 2022

Metallica and Their Hellfire Club Take Over the Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, New York 8-11-2022



It’s not every day that I would travel all the way to another country to see a concert. But, THIS was no regular concert, it was Metallica. With the pandemic and the rest of the insanity going on in the world I always have to ask myself, “Am I ever going to get the chance to see them again?” When it comes to the biggest metal band in the world, I wasn’t about to take the chance, It was time for a road trip. The drive from Ajax, Ontario Canada to Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, New York was about two and a half hours with a little wait crossing the border. Not that horrible, considering the drive in my ole stomping grounds of Los Angeles, out to Five Point Amphitheater in Irvine, can be about the same depending on the traffic. More than worth the drive, as Metallica is not really “touring,” but doing one-off random festivals and concerts, so it’s a rare appearance. They co-headlined the Boston Calling Music Festival in May with what was supposed to be the Foo Fighters before the tragic loss of Taylor Hawkins. When Foo Fighters dropped out, they were replaced by Nine Inch Nails. With only two more shows scheduled this year, one in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania at the PNC Park, and the other at Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York, it was a truly a rare opportunity, and I wasn’t going to miss it. Adding to my excitement was the fact that it was going to be almost 31 years to the day since the August 12, 1991 release of their epic “Black Album”, so it was a perfect metal storm.

I remember my first time seeing the band back on Nov 26, 1986 on their “Damage Inc Tour” at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence Rhode Island. Back in the day you only had to listen to radio stations like WHJY,  who had specialized Metal Shows on one night a week to get bands like Metallica.  They didn’t get regular radio play and were proud of it. They weren’t part of the “poser” Hair Metal craze sweeping the nation at the time, and for them, that was a badge of honor.  Metallica were fresh off of some opening dates supporting Ozzy Osborne ,and the show I went to was their first headlining date in the US supported by Anthrax and Metal Church. Looking back, it’s amazing that we got to see those three bands in a crowd of about 1,000 people. Tonight, in Buffalo, at the stadium the Buffalo Bills call home, there was going to be 50 times that.

Highmark Stadium is situated outside the city surrounded by plenty of parking that was already filled with tailgaters thrashing away at 4:00pm when I rolled in.  It was hot, but not that “coat your black T-Shirt in sweat” type of humid hot. The weather was perfect, and not a cloud in the sky. It’s always a challenge shooting a show at a new venue as you have no idea where you will be or what the setup will be. But the folks at Highmark Stadium were amazing. They had us set up in an air-conditioned suite overlooking the stage as we prepared for the show. The staging and setup was the same one used the night before for the Motley Crue/Def Leppard/Poison Stadium Tour with a hollowed “tongue” shaped walkway added to the front of the stage giving the performers more room to move into the crowd and to interact with the fans.

The first band to hit the stage was Ice Nine Kills out of Salem Massachusetts. They are touring in support of their new album Horrorwood which is inspired by dark horror film themes. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but a bunch of clean-cut guys parading out onto the stage in business suits wearing carnival masks, was not it. They launched into the title song off their new album, and it ripped the veneer off their appearance. The hoarse roaring vocals of Spencer Charnas set the tone as the band started shredding. The wardrobe theme became apparent when Charnas donned the iconic “Clear Raincoat” from the film American Psycho that Christian Bale wears when he bludgeons Jared Leto’s character with an Axe. They were going full Patrick Bateman with the visceral performance that had Charnas taking out one of his own bandmates with the Axe and coming up with his severed head. The macabre performance was reminiscent of Alice Cooper but with a more guttural and raw edge.  The highlight of the set was their new song “The Shower Scene” for which they recently did a Hollywood Horror inspired music video.


Ice Nine Kills:

Spencer Charnas – Lead Vocals

Ricky Armellino -Guitarist

Patrick Galante – Drums

Joe Occhiuti – Bass

Dan Sugarman – Guitarist




Ice Nine Kills Setlist:

1.) Welcome to Horrorwood

2.) Rainy Day

3.) Hip to Be Scared

4.) Stabbing in the Dark

5.) Ex-Mørtis

6.) IT Is the End

7.) The Shower Scene

8.) Funeral Derangements

9.) The American Nightmare


Greta Van Fleet surged onto the stage next in their classic 70’s glam and shoeless attire.  This was a rare support gig for them as they have been headlining consistently in recent years. Back in Toronto, they will be headlining the Scotia Bank Arena on August 19th themselves for what promises to be an amazing show. Their abbreviated setlist highlighted the band’s second album, The Battle at Garden’s Gate ,and dripped with a classic 1970’s vibe. If you ever wondered what it must have been like to catch Cream or Deep Purple back in the day, this is your chance. The three Kiszka brothers, plus drummer Danny Wagner from Michigan, took the stage with Sam Kiszka kicking off “Built by Nations” with a searing guitar intro. Then Jake Kiszka ripped the audience into a frenzy before front man, Josh Kiszka launched into it the powerful vocals. The comparison of Greta Van Fleet to early Led Zeppelin is easy to see and hear, and they lean into it in a good way. From the wardrobe to the melodic fades, they capture the essence of the bands from that era, but with the passion and energy of invigorated youth. The Robert Plante-esque vocals of Josh Kiszka, are well matched by Jake Kiszka on guitar who steals the show with his searing riffs and extended solos. The brothers are tight, and drummer Danny Wagner’s casual demeanor behind the kit was diametrically opposed to his powerful attack of the driving, rhythmic heartbeats coming from his kit as he set the pace. The classic “corded” band was limited to the main stage and sadly was not able to make use of the jutting stage-piece that would have brought them deeper into the crowd. It’s clear that this band is going to be huge, as last year when they were playing mid-sized venues, and now headlining stadiums. As they launched into “Black Smoke Rising,” you could get the sense that the band had begun to completely convert the audience who had come for thrashing metal but was coming around to the classic rock vibe. They kept the energy flowing right up till the final performance of their groundbreaking Grammy Nominated track, “Highway Tune”.


Greta Van Fleet

Josh Kiszka – Vocals

Jake Kiszka – Guitar

Sam Kiszka – Bass

Daniel Wagner -Drums




Greta Van Fleet Setlist:

1.) Built by Nations

2.) Black Smoke Rising

3.) Caravel

4.) Light My Love

5.) Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)

6.) That’s All Right (Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup cover)

7.) The Weight of Dreams

8.) Highway Tune


As the sun set over the stadium, the crowd had finally grown to capacity with the upper decks filled to brim. It was amazing to see so many generations of fans packed into the seats. It’s no surprise that there has been a surge of younger fans with Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” heavily featured in the massive season finale of the Netflix hit, Stranger Things. In the episode, breakout star Joseph Quinn plays the classic track on the roof of a destroyed Mobile home surrounded by a hoard of demons. The integration of the track gave a bump to the 36 year old song  and introduced the band to a whole new generation. Metallica, not ones to run from an opportunity, leaned into the shows “Hellfire Club” subplot and has it featured on their merchandise. Quinn, a long time guitar player, was coached by Tye Trujillo, son of bassist Robert Trujillo, who also laid down the final track for the episode.  The band was so impressed by the young actor that they had him come out to jam with the band before their set at Lollapalooza.

As the stage light dipped and the normal background music took a decided turn, AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top” cranked up and you could feel the excitement in the crowd building. As that track came to an end, the gigantic video displays kicked in with Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold,”  used in a clip from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”  Metallica has opened every single show they’ve played since 1983 (sans Load / Reload era) with the classic song. The band has long been a fan of incorporating vintage cinema into their songs, famously incorporating “Johnny’s Got His Gun” into their breakout hit “One.”  When the last frame had faded, the stage was again darkened and then began to be lit by red lines forming squares creating a sense of building tension like a Saul Bass title sequence. The band rocketed onto the stage and launched into “Whiplash” off their debut 1983 EP Kill Em All.   The massive crowd was treated to 40-foot- tall views of the band on the massive 160-foot-wide video displays. Having recently watched the Documentary “Murder in the Front Row”  that chronicles the bands early days, it’s amazing to see the changes since the first days of playing that song in tiny clubs in San Francisco to now. Some 40 years later, Frontman James Hetfield, roared from the left side of the stage and moved out to the end of the walkway. I loved that Drummer Lars Ulrich didn’t have his kit buried in the back on some insane riser, but instead was seated at center stage, out on the end of the “tongue” in the middle of the crowd right on the deck with the rest of the band. Later in the set he would move back to a second kit that was placed back on the main stage. I was thankful for the tracks that I got to shoot when he was a good 100 feet closer, made my job a hell of a lot easier. They kept with the classic vibe moving into “Creeping Death” off their first full length album from 1984 Ride The Lightning . Guitarist Kirk Hammett’s searing guitar solo on his Boris Karloff themed guitar, had the crowd in a headbanging fury.  His passion for classic Horror films has made this particular guitar one of his favorites, and it gives a bit of an insight into his personal life which is always fascinating. His trashing has lost nothing in the past 4 decades, the energy, passion and the precision are all still there. The audience ripping into the chant of “Die… Die…Die” set the tone for the rest of the show. From there, they lit right into the song that kicked them into stadium status “Enter Sandman”. It was their first of many hits off the 1991 album Metallica, or as it’s been come to be known, “The Black Album.” Guided by iconic producer Bob Rock, it was their first album where they tuned down to “D” as opposed to “E”, giving them a much deeper lower punch that gave the songs a much-needed depth. Mixed to perfection, it’s become a metal masterpiece that has lasted the test of time.

The showcase of headbanging continued as they kept with the classic Metallica tone dipping back to the title track of Ride the Lighting, before making a leap forward to the often overlooked 2009 release, “The Memory Remains,” off the album Reload. Hearing this performed live for the first time really made me want to delve back into the Load and Reload albums to see how they have aged. There are some amazing tracks on those two albums.  Later in the set, Hetfield asked the crowd for their thoughts on the St. Anger album, (thumbs up, thumbs down) getting a mixed result. The album was a unique departure for the band and was surrounded in turmoil that was caught on tape in the documentary “Some Kind of Monster.”  They showcased “Dirty Window” off the album with again mixed results from the crowd. It’s a solid outing from the band, and maybe an album that needed to happen to bring them back around to their thrashing core. 

From there, they moved back to the Black Album playing the third song, “Holier Than Thou“. The album Ride The Lighting had the most coverage with four tracks being played off that classic album. Also, with two each from Kill ‘Em All and …And Justice for All and only one song from Master of Puppets, Hardwired to Self Destruct, Reload, and Garage Inc.

Throughout the show, fans were treated to an impressive video display with integrated motion graphics and animation by ILOVEDUST , that truly brought the show to another level. It had a cinematic feeling that this was not just about the music, it was an experience.  Then adding in 40-foot towers of flames, the show was building to a crescendo.   The encore featured three of their classic songs, “Blackened” and their first single “One,” followed by the song that has been the hit of 2022, “Master of Puppets.” The multi-generational crowd chanted and cheered the entire song. At the end, a barrage of fireworks that just clipped past 11:00pm sent the throngs of fans off into the night completely thrashed. From my first-time seeing Metallica 36 years ago, I can say this, Metallica has not lost a thing. They are still the biggest Metal band in the world, and for good reason.  Looking forward to checking out the audio from the show when it hits their Live Music Site  



James Hetfield – Guitar, Vocals

Lars Ulrich – Drums

Kirk Hammett – Guitars

Robert Trujillo – Bass




Metallica Setlist:

1.) Whiplash

2.) Creeping Death

3.) Enter Sandman

4.) Ride the Lightning

5.) The Memory Remains

6.) Nothing Else Matters

7.) Dirty Window

8.) Sad but True

9.) Whiskey in the Jar

10.) For Whom the Bell Tolls

11.) Moth Into Flame

12.) Fade to Black

13.) Seek & Destroy


14.) Blackened

15.) One

16.) Master of Puppets






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