By the time I photographed Metallica back in 2010, I had been shooting live music for just over a year. During that first year, I tried to cover as many gigs as humanly possible. I wanted to experience and learn everything I possibly could about live music photography and by the time Metallica rolled around, I was beginning to feel like a seasoned pro.
Little did I know that there was so much more to learn and experience along the way.
Still, up until that point, they were the biggest band I had ever got to photograph and my very first time at Rod Laver Arena.
Here’s how it all went down, way back in 2010…
It proved to be an amazing array of anxiousness and raw emotion today. I don’t know how I got an ounce of work done as nearly every minute of the day was spent hovering over the old familiar ping of the inbox alerting me to mail, or watching the phone – begging it to ring!
I found out yesterday through my editor at Metal As F*ck, the wonderful Leticia, that I may be getting the chance to photograph Metallica. I hadn’t even bothered applying for a pass myself as I didn’t like my chances so to get a chance to shoot them, no matter how remote it seemed, just blew me away.
Having been shooting live music for almost a year and a half, (yeah I’m still a rookie) I never imagined that I would ever get the opportunity to be shooting at the Rod Laver Arena… and more importantly, shooting a band like Metallica. A band I have been listening to since 1982! Can’t say I am a fan of the last few records, but what the hey, you get my drift. Shooting Metallica is akin to having the chance to photograph Zeppelin, Sabbath or KISS during the seventies.
The hours flew by and by 5pm, I still didn’t know if I had been granted a pass. With the show only a few hours away, I had resigned myself to the fact that I had missed out.
I was pretty bummed out and as I was getting ready to head home from work – I got the call… I was in. I would be shooting Metallica… tonight! ‘TALLICA DUDE!!!! ‘TALLICAAAAA!!!!
Even now after the fact, it all seems so surreal but it turned out to be a night I have always dreamed about.
Walking into the arena to shoot openers The Sword, allowed me to get a feel for the place and to see the 360 degree stage up close and personal. It was certainly strange being able to walk around the entire stage which was smack, bang in the middle of Rod Laver Arena and very low to the ground. I would imagine that from the rafters the entire stage would look like it was submerged into the crowd.
As cool as openers The Sword and the mighty Fear Factory were… we were all here for one thing only and that was Metallica.
There were about a dozen photographers all gathered by the stage door. Most of these guys were professionals working for all sorts of media such as The Age and Herald-Sun newspapers, Triple J Radio, Beat etc. I was envious listening to them talk before the show. These guys actually get paid for this work and their attitude and camera gear reflected that. If they could read my mind they would see me wishing so hard to be in their position, to be making a living out of doing something you love. Ugh, what does it take to be a peer of these guys? Still, I listened intently as they traded war stories and granted, they are better photographers than me, their experiences rang true and reflected a lot of what I have encountered on this journey as well. Only difference, they get a pay-check!
Twenty minutes before Metallica hit the stage, our contact from the promoter’s office led us into the arena. Walking through the backstage area and being led to the stage always gets me so fucking pumped up. There are all sorts wandering the halls. It’s like a regular sycophant convention.
Following the yellow line from backstage onto the arena floor, it was as if every seat in the house was occupied. I took it all in, looking upwards to 15,000 fans following your every step and listening to the commentary as we were taken to the foot of the 360 degree monstrosity!
The atmosphere was suspenseful, rowdy, electric and so supercharged. You could literally feel a chill up and down your spine as you looked around the entire arena and felt the pure, raw energy from the crowd.
Combining this frenzy with Metallica’s bombastic appearance on stage made for a powerful jolt to the senses. For a minute, I forgot why I was there – so overwhelmed I was by the band before me. Last time I saw them was in the 80′s on the ‘And Justice For All’ tour and now, here I was, in the pit feeling James Hetfield’s stare cut right through me.
I was blown away. Can there be a more powerful band strutting any stage on planet Earth right now? No chance in hell anyone could compete with the blunt force trauma Metallica delivered in spades. What an amazing live act!
We were granted the obligatory three songs which roughly translates to about 15 minutes of shooting time. The first song featured an amazing laser light display which was incredibly hard to photograph as the stage was dimly lit. It was a little frustrating getting a shot but I looked around at the photographers next to me, and they were
also struggling to get it to work for them.
The band use the entire 360 degree stage so it was amusing watching the photogs chase around each member as he stomped all over the stage from one side to the next.