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Metallica treats Nassau Coliseum concertgoers to rock party

Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of Metallica jam

Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of Metallica jam together onstage during their concert at NYCB Live's Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday night, May 17, 2017. Credit: Steve Remich

Now this is a party.

Since NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum reopened in April, there have been all sorts of events. But the sold-out Metallica show Wednesday night was the first to really rock hard, with heavy metal cranked loud everywhere around the arena for hours before the show even started.

Singer-guitarist James Hetfield set the tone early, declaring the show a celebration of Metallica family.

“Strong Island, how do you feel?” he asked after the opening combination of “Hardwired” and “Atlas Rise” from the recent “Hardwired . . . to Self Destruct” album. “There is a little bit of history here. We’ve been here a lot.”

As the only nonstadium show of the band’s “WorldWired Tour,” the Coliseum concert was already special because it’s the only time the tour would use a video-screen floor and ceiling for their stage in the round.

But the band seemed determined to take things to the next level. While fans have long been accustomed to stunning epics like “Master of Puppets,” with its punishing time signatures, and speeding thrash guitar solos from Kirk Hammett fit precisely with the rest of the quartet, Wednesday night’s show was balanced with straightforward anthems like “Seek and Destroy.”

“The family here is so awesome; we finish each other’s sentences,” Hetfield said, after welcoming fans who were seeing the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers for the first time. He added, “36 years, we’re still here.”

However, the two-hour, 15-minute master class of metal showed a band that wasn’t simply surviving. It was thriving by trying new things.

Who would have thought that the most memorable Metallica solo of the night would come during the new song “Now That We’re Dead,” where all four members played giant drums?

Apparently the band already is making plans for its next 36 years as metal gods.

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