From the second we entered the Lincoln Tunnel I could feel a sort of tension in the air, a change of pressure that could only mean one thing, a storm was approaching. The tension continued to rise as we turned the corner onto 127 East 23rd. Street. Seeing the Gramercy Theatre with a line of screaming fans wrapped around the corner, we had reached the eye of the storm, a heavy metal storm! The Masters of Metal were scheduled to reunite again for a show so epic it could only be one thing, named the "METAL MASTERS CLINIC 4".
Straying away from the idea of how instrument clinics normally are, in classic heavy metal fashion the Metal Masters Clinic brings together many key players of heavy metal from a variety of different bands. But if for any moment you thought this clinic would be in a controlled setting, you are completely wrong. Simply put, the Metal Masters Clinic is a concert. However, just as the Metal Masters Clinic is not like your average clinic, the Metal Masters is NOT your average concert either. Having been able to attend last years' Metal Masters Clinic 3 at the Best Buy Theatre in New York City, I had some sort of idea of how all this would go down.
Returning to the clinic would be some familiar faces, such as Frank Bello, Scott Ian and Charlie Benante from Anthrax, Kerry King from SLAYER, and Phil Anselmo from PANTERA/DOWN who was a special guest at last years' New York City clinic. Some new faces also took the stage such as Gary Holt from EXODUS/SLAYER. He, at the time being is replacing SLAYER'S' Jeff Hanneman who is still dealing with health issues from a poisonous spider bite. Also from the SLAYER camp was drummer Dave Lombardo, who took the place of former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, who played last year at the clinic. Last but not least was Billy Sheehan, formerly of TALAS/ MR.BIG, and the David Lee Roth solo band in the 80's. Billy, who may not seem like a "Metal Master", completely performed above and beyond my expectations.
As for the show itself, it truly was an onslaught of heavy metal that did not disappoint at all. To begin the show Dave Lombardo came onto the stage to perform with one guitarist and one bassist (whose names unfortunately escape me). Dave and his other two band mates for the day performed six songs, which although weren't that bad, were nothing like Daves' other band (SLAYER). After Dave left the stage, (oddly not really saying anything), the stage was cleared and prepared for Frank Bello. By meaning "prepared" as in the technical guy placed a bottle of Johnny Walker next to the microphone stand. Frank was obviously starting to get a little inebriated, but this only caused him to talk and interact with the crowd more. Frank mentioned that he had just watched the "Cliff' Em All" video the night before and began playing the intro to the late METALLICA bassist Cliff Burton's bass solo Anesthesia (PULLING TEETH). Beginning to get a bit teary-eyed Frank assured the crowd that if Cliff were still here, he would have been standing next to him right on stage. Frank also said that this clinic was for metal heads everywhere and also mentioned the late "Dimebag" Darryl. Frank then began calling members of the audience up to the stage to help them learn any ANTHRAX bass parts. Upon pulling the first lucky member of the crowd on stage, Kerry King from SLAYER walked on to the stage holding a bottle of Jagermeister. Kerry and Frank both took their shots and Kerry walked off the stage. The first bass line Frank helped the audience member with was for "I am The Law". The kid started to play, but Frank informed him that he was actually playing the guitar part, not the bass part. He then showed him how to play the bass part the correct way, and after a bit of practice, the kid started doing pretty good. After this was done, Frank got another audience member up to the stage who needed help learning the bass part to "Indians". Due to time running short Frank apologized for not being able to call another person up and introduced Billy Sheehan to the stage. When Billy came onto the stage and began playing bass I was absolutely stunned! Say what you will that Billy Sheehan doesn't belong at a Metal clinic but in my opinion Billy deserves to be anywhere the performers are titled as "MASTERS"! While Billy was still performing Frank and Phil Anselmo appeared onto the stage bowing before Billy as he played bass. The three of them then went into "Hot For Teacher" by VAN HALEN, with Charlie Benante from Anthrax backing them up on the drums. Mind you, while Billy was playing all of the guitar parts and solos on the bass also both Frank and Phil were trading the vocals. After they finished they waved to the crowd and exited the stage. Next up was Scott Ian from ANTHRAX who much like Frank was beginning to see the effects of alcohol. Scott explained to the crowd that he would take any questions that they had for him. Not a moment later, loud siren noises started to echo through the theatre, then finally dead air, no sound from Scotts' microphone or any guitar or amp on stage. Scott was still attempting to talk through the microphone, but no noise was heard. Technicians began racing around the stage as Scott stayed on the stage trying to communicate with the audience. Frank returned to the stage carrying a giant megaphone bullhorn to announce that because people were smoking downstairs, the fire alarms started to sound and all power to the stage went off. The crowd began to get a little restless but in about 10 minutes the power was back on and the show could continue. Scott started to joke with the crowd after the power came back on and said that Gene Simmons was downstairs practicing his fire breathing, so that's why the alarms went off. Scott then began calling audience members up to play but stated that he'll play the part first and then the audience member will follow, as he isn't that good of a teacher. The first song played was part of "Skeletons In The Closet". Next was "Madhouse", and the last song Scott played with an audience member was an old S.O.D. song which the mic. cut out when he said the name so I didn't quite get which one it was. Scott took one last question from the audience, being asked "Is the theme music to hell SLAYER"? Scott replied by saying "the devil is not your friend, he wants to fuck with you, so if you are a metal head the LAST thing you're going to hear in hell would be SLAYER. The theme music would probably be something like Arctic Monkeys or something like that". Before he left the stage, Frank came out and announced that because of the technical difficulties, Jagermeister would be giving everyone with wristbands (21 and over) one free shot. Charlie Benante from ANTHRAX came out next and started his drum solo. A member of the audience was already selected to drum with Charlie (they had two full drum sets on stage). They played some solos, going back and forth attempting to out drum what the previous one had just played. After the audience member was done, Dave Lombardo entered the stage. Much like the audience member, Dave and Charlie battled back and forth with some SLAYER drum parts versus ANTHRAX drum parts. The two drummers wrapped it up and exited the stage.
With the clinic part of the show wrapped up, the Metal Masters came on stage for a 10-12 song, killer jam session. This was the climax to the show. To see all these metal Gods perform together was truly an amazing experience, and one that I will never forget. Being that I am only 18 years old and living through the abomination of what people consider to be music now, the privilege of being able to see the TRUE passion these musicians express in their music will always hold a special meaning to me.