VIDEO: 33 years ago today, Metallica rocked Copps Coliseum in Hamilton


Published April 7, 2022 at 6:00 am

In the last year of the 1980s, two musical genres — hip-hop and thrash metal — touched a nerve more than other. And Hamilton got up and close and personal, head-banging along, with one of the biggest bands from the latter, when Metallica came to town.

On April 8, 1989, 32 years ago this Friday, Metallica played Copps Coliseum right around the midpoint of their worldwide, more than year-long Damaged Justice tour. This week, video from the performance by the superstar four-piece band compromised of James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Jason Newsted and Lars Ulrich surfaced on YouTube.

Metallica was touring to promote their fourth album, “…And Justice For All.” The tour was ambitious, involving 219 shows over five stages in Europe, North America, Australia and Japan. The harder metal bands, up to that point, typically did not get booked into venues the size of Copps, which held 17,000 for hockey. The term ‘arena rock,’ after all, was coined to describe the kind of softer, more melodic rock that Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer, to name a few, rose up as a reaction against.

“No band as extreme as ours had ever done a full arena tour,” Ullrich told Rolling Stone magazine in 2018, on the 30-year anniversary to the tour.

Throughout that tour, Metallica typically opened with “Blackened.” The songs from that April night at the corner of Bay Street and York Boulevard that are online are from later in their set.

A few camera pans show an enthusiastic crowd amassed close to the stage, but it appears mosh pits had not quite crossed the border into Canada in ’89. There were a couple of fans who did not mind body contact. Two members of the Niagara Falls Thunder hockey team who would go on to play in the NHL, Scott Pearson and the late Bryan Fogarty, were in the crowd.

“Master of Puppets,” which was off the band’s third album released three years prior, was their eighth song, according to

Hammett, Hetfield, Newsted and Ullrich then launched into the anti-war “One,” which they had performed at the Grammy Awards earlier the year. The song was the first that they ever recorded a video for, describes a wounded First World War soldier asking God to take his life. “One” was also Metallica’s first song to chart in the United States.

After that, Hetfield took a moment to banter with the crowd down in front. In what is now known as NSFW (not safe for work) language, he asked fans if they owned the band’s debut album “Kill ‘Em All,” released six years earlier, then asked to borrow a copy since, “I (expleted deleted) lost mine.” That gave a segue to set up “Seek and Destroy.”

Hamilton was the fifth stop on a Canadian swing that took Metallica through eight cities in 12 nights. They had just played Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto the previous night, and had a travel day before heading into Quebec, where they performed at both the Colisée in Quebec City and the Montreal Forum.

(All video is copyright Blackened Recordings.)

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