Metallica & Pantera played MetLife Stadium (night 1 pics, setlist, review & Prong too)

Metallica kicked off their M72 World Tour at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford on Friday night (8/4), the same football stadium that recently hosted three nights of Taylor Swift, two Ed Sheeran, and two Beyonce. It was Metallica's first of two nights at the massive NJ venue that Lars claimed from stage was holding 80,000 Metallica family members. It was the biggest NYC-area show they ever played, and in the same state they played their first East Coast show over 40 years ago when they took a now historic trip to Old Bridge to visit Jon and Marsha Zazula who signed them to their label Megaforce. And in case we needed a reminder at just how not-intimate this show was, pictures from their sort-of-recent shows at Webster Hall and The Apollo flashed on the giant screens before they took the stage.

The show was "in the round," which means they could sell every seat in the entire place. General admission wrapped around the entire circular donut shaped stage, and occasionally you could see five simultaneous mosh pits happening in different areas nowhere near each other. They also filled the middle of the donut with even more people. Though from far away seats it barely made a difference, James, Kirk and Robert Trujillo continuously circled the stage so that each side of the stadium could get some action. They also had multiple yellow drum sets hidden on rising platforms beneath the stage so Lars could also give each side a turn. Throughout the show, one drum set would go down, the next one would go up, giving Lars an extra workout as he switched from drum set to drum set between songs.

Metallica can't play a bad show -- they're too good, and have too many hits -- and the show was full of extra special moments, like when the entire stadium was singing along to "Master of Puppets" which they closed their 2+ hour set with, but there were also moments that felt like they were still working out the kinks. In fact, that's exactly what Kirk claimed when he restarted "Nothing Else Matters" after a mess up. It was also -- for lack of a better term -- the silliest Metallica show I can remember. Seven songs into the show, Robert claimed they were going to play a special song that he and Kirk wrote just for that NJ show called "Rose Avenue" which ended up being a few minutes of the two of them just jamming on guitar like two kids who just learned to play. Giant beach balls fell from the sky during… "Seek & Destroy." Said giant beach balls often just found themselves stuck on the stage static-clinging to the drum set as Lars continued to play in his current spot, not to mention Lars often popping up from different parts of the stage sort of felt like a giant game of Whac-A-Mole. After the last song, they each took turns giving little speeches of appreciation to the crowd, in between throwing out picks and sticks and whatnot.

Three songs came from new album 72 Seasons, and even if you don't listen to new Metallica albums, you can't deny that the new songs fit right in and sound good in the 16-song setlist filled with classics. Rare later-album hit "Fuel" got a huge crowd reaction, and was the only song off Reload. They also played one each from Load and Death Magnetic. Otherwise it was all classics from the Kill 'Em All to Black Album run. Slower stuff kind of works better in the huge setting (for those in seats anyway), so hits like "Nothing Else Matters" and Master of Puppets instrumental "Orion" truly sounded great on the massive sound system, but heavier staples like "Creeping Death" and "Battery" were just as well received. It's amazing to see 80,000 people simultaneously react to music that still 30+ years later feels too heavy for the radio.

Speaking of, Pantera played direct support with their first NYC-area show since "reuniting." Reputation aside, Phil Anselmo -- barefoot and in one of his "classic not classy" shirts -- is in great shape, and though their show will always work better in a club, they still delivered a set full of extremely heavy, sing-along groove metal hits to the appreciative crowd who made it on time. Between the imagery on stage and on video screens, and things they said between songs, Pantera 2023 has been very careful to make it clear they are always thinking about and paying tribute to beloved lost members Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul. Fellow metal legends Zakk Wylde (guitar) and Charlie Benante (drums) did a great job at playing their roles. Original bassist Rex Brown was also fun to watch on stage up there with Phil. You can see their full setlist below.

The tour has Metallica playing two nights in cities around the world in 2023 and 2024. Each city gets a "No Repeat Weekend" which means: "2 Nights. 2 Different Sets. 2 Different Opening Acts. In the Round." In North America, Pantera and Mammoth WVH (WVH = Wolfgang Van Halen) are the support for Night 1, while Five Finger Death Punch and Ice Nine Kills support on Night 2. In NJ -- where night 2 is tonight/Sunday (8/6) -- they also added earlier parking lot shows with local thrash legends Prong (from Long Island) on Friday, and Overkill (from NJ) on Sunday.

The outdoor stage was set up in Parking Lot G right outside the stadium, and Prong went on around 3:45pm to a nice-sized and enthusiastic crowd of fans. They played a mix of classics and new songs, including the new single from their new album that was just announced days earlier, and their hit "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" which was one of a few tracks that had a mosh pit going.

We missed Mammoth, but more photos of the show by P Squared, and setlists, below…