Metallica and SF Symphony Reunite for Chase Center Inauguration

in SF Concert Reviews by

Almost 20 years after the first incarnation of the collaboration between Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony, the groups reunited last night in San Francisco to celebrate the inauguration of the newly-built Chase Center. The night was entitled “S&M2” as an homage to the first performance that took place back in 1999 at the Berkeley Community Theater.

From the moment you entered the glitzy arena you knew you were in for a treat. It’s hard to put into words just how amazing Chase Center really is. The Tesla of sports arenas has set the standard for what a venue should be. From the modern exterior to the Star Trek staircases, to the luxury lighting system and high
resolution LED screens this building will leave you speechless.

The San Francisco Symphony kicked things off with Metallica’s trademark intro to the “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.” It served as the appetizer for the grand entrance by the rock legends, who picked “The Call of the Ktulu” as their opening number. By that point, the sold out crowd of 18,000 that had been waiting months for this show got loud. And I mean really really loud. Earthshaking loud.

The evening was divided into two acts with the first mostly driven by Metallica songs, while the second included some solo acoustic pieces performed by the symphony. Although Metallica played a bevy of their classic hits, a good portion of the setlist was comprised of some of their newer, more obscure material. The enthusiasm waned at times, but die-hard fans rejoiced over heavy hitters like “Creeping Death,” “One” and “Enter Sandman.” But it was the symphonic metal version of “For Whom The Bell Tolls” that raised the hairs on my arms. With each twirl of the baton it evolved into a monstrous cinematic opus as the symphony and metal juggernauts danced effortlessly into the night.

In the end, most if not all the material worked exceptionally well with the musical arrangements of the legendary Michael Tilson Thomas. He’ll be retiring this year, so this was surely another accolade on his already illustrious career. Tilson seemed in good spirits throughout the night even if surrounded by a mostly male crowd of heavy metal fans all decked in black with skull adorned t-shirts. Most were surprisingly receptive to his short anecdotes in between songs, which were meant to educate the beer drinking audience on the refined subject of classical music.

For anyone that missed the show or would like to relive the experience, the band will be releasing a live recording as well as a movie in the near future. It’s definitely worth a viewing no matter if you’re a fan of the band, or simply curious to see how such polar opposite musical groups can create such perfect harmony together.

Photos by Louis Raphael


Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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