Metallica rocks, of course

James Hetfield didn't disappoint during a two-hour hard core rock show at GM Place Tuesday night. (Carmine Marinelli, 24 hours)

James Hetfield didn't disappoint during a two-hour hard core rock show at GM Place Tuesday night. (Carmine Marinelli, 24 hours)

You've got to hand it to Metallica. I mean, here's a thrash-metal act that formed in 1981 after drummer Lars Ulrich posted an ad in a Los Angeles newspaper and, 27 years, seven Grammys, a few bassists and somewhere in the vicinity of 100 million album sales later, the band is still selling out stadiums.

And so it was at GM Place last night in Vancouver, the power quartet's latest stop on their gargantuan World Magnetic tour, a musical sojourn that should keep international heads banging through 2010.

Metallica have utilized the "in the round" staging setup in the past and this tour is no different. The large rectangular stage worked fine for me way up in the press box but I think it lessens the experience for audience members on the various sides of the stage, since they never get a full-frontal assault from the foursome.

Ulrich was on a circular riser in the middle, which left a lot of real estate for singer James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo to cover.

They did an admirable job, but I think concertgoers deserve the full monty.

That said, Metallica's been using the same setup since the 90s, so for rabid fans (and, really, no one "kind of" likes Metallica), this tour certainly won't be a box of chocolates.

After an opening laser show that looked more mega-club in Ibiza than monsters of rock, the boys ripped through a two-hour set that featured a lot of 80's material like "Battery" and "Master of Puppets" from 1986's Master of Puppets album, the latter of which got the crowd/chorus sing-a-long award for the night, with "Nothing Else Matters" and "Enter Sandman" a close second and third.

Also from Master of Puppets, "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", which has more tempo changes than a porn flick and had me sentimentalizing about several near death experiences I had at the hands of my friend Jason while that tape (as in cassette) blasted in his speeding Ford Bronco II back in the day.

Jason loved black t-shirts and so did this night's mostly male crowd, many of whom eventually chose to gear down to skins as they fist-pounded the air, banged their heads and, at one end of the stage, moshed violently for the entire set, forcing pit security to work overtime in order to stop bodies from flinging over the barricade.

Even from my safe seat high in the sky, it's easy to see that a lot's changed in the years since Ulrich placed that tiny newspaper ad.

But one thing hasn't: Metallica rocks.