Christchurch screams for Metallica
Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire – Metallica!
A guy from down south with a long rat's tail hairstyle next to me is hyperventilating with excitement. He has a wicked piercing – a long, and appropriately heavy, metal lightning bolt through his bottom lip. Through it he tells me he hitchhiked through snow to see his metal mentors.
Openers Christchurch band Tainted had a much deserved support slot and did themselves proud. American act The Sword's battle of galaxies off new album Warp Riders was epic and Innovators Fear Factory showed why they are the coolest guys in metal.
But it's Metallica we want to see. When they arrive on stage the packed out arena – spanning everyone from new teen fans to grey-haired bogans – scream as one.
"Raise the horns, it's going to be insane," the guy from down south bellows.
Turns out the guy from down south is a bit psychic. It is insane.
"Christchurch, your life is right here, right now," were the first words from the metal gods' lips.
Both halves of the heaving moshpit thrust fists skyward and then phones lit up the arena before an epic light show. A sea of black surged into one another, a tide of happily sweaty humanity.
Ostensibly the reason Metallica are here is as part of their world tour for their latest album, Death Magnetic. But these heavy metal legends amended their plans to accommodate us, and treated us to vintage Metallica too. No remorse from us, masters.
James Hetfield has unique signature rhythm playing that more than equals his distinctive growl. Lead guitarist Kirk "The Ripper" Hammett is one of the most copied guitarists in metal; he's stunning. Lars Ulrich's drumming is intense, he's the linchpin. Bassist Robert Trujillo looked like a bass-wielding panther. They all sounded out of this world.
Metallers are often stereotyped negatively but Metallica are family guys. Between them they have five children and schedule their tour dates around their families.
By getting the legendary group to play here Cantabrians showed their true grit. Our city has recently demonstrated its true heart and resilience. That same united spirit, albeit the black T-shirt-wearing, goat-throwing version, was evident last night.
Metallica create overtly masculine, testosterone-filled music that channels something primal.
It was loud. It was heavy. There was fire. We sang, we moshed, we screamed, we writhed, some did air guitar, some cried with joy. It felt like a release. But nicer than the geological version.
We were rocking for a good reason.
Trujillo said they were bringing us their version of therapy and they delivered it as only they can. Much like the student volunteers partying upstairs at the arena last night delivered support to those who needed it after the earthquake – with great heart and tremendous passion.
Metallica – from all of your Christchurch and South Island fans I say thank you. You are masters.
Blenheim's Jamie Woods got a song dedication. I hope Facebook campaigner Andrea Grom gets the same tonight.
Music has always been a powerful way to bring people together.
"How does it feel to be alive Christchurch?" Metallica ask.
For a city that's been sleeping with one eye open gripping our pillows tight, we'll be sleeping well tonight.
Before the gig a guy in a service station told me: "It's like hell vomited bogans tonight."
Some people just don't understand.