I have watched concert recordings of different sorts. It is the first time I see one hosted inside an ancient Coliseum, where gladiators battled for their lives thousands of years ago. From the moment James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo entered through the gladiator tunnel, till the last song of the set, this 2-hour long concert electrified both Cynthia and I. We were exhausted after watching the show in HD format. 2 hours, we were glued in front of the TV, waving our hands and jumping on the floor. Cynthia remembers the lyrics so she could sing along with some of the songs. I was in high spirit when they played “The Day That Never Comes” and “Nothing Else Matters”. Yes, I can be a softy at heart.
Consider the relatively small price difference between the Blu-ray format and the DVD format, HD is a worthy investment. With the high clarity in picture and audio quality, “Francais Pour Une Nuit” has captured the essence of the live performance well. There were cameras that scanned through the cheering crowd, there were cameras that took close-up shots on each band member, and there was a camera that ran along the rail placed in front of the stage (that unfortunately tends to shake a bit due to the vibration coming from the bass drums). The entire concert setup and recording was made by the French. Metallica purposely wanted this concert to be as French as it could be. With such a historical venue in Nîmes (South of France), it is a suiting decision to capture the essence of the location and the people behind it too.
Cynthia loves Metallica’s first album (1983) to the “Black Album” (1991). Because she listens to Metallica since the beginning. As for me, I love their “Black Album” all the way to the most recent release “Death Magnetic” (2008). That was when I started listening to Metallica. Hence you can imagine that while we watched “Francais Pour Une Nuit”, some songs got Cynthia excited more and other songs got me on my feet more. Looking at the song list, you bound to question why some songs are not included. For Cynthia, she yearned for “… And Justice For All” while for me, “The Unforgiven”. Inside the 40 minutes interview, Lars shared with the viewers that they have a song list of over 70 songs and they aim to play different sets at different venues in order to keep themselves alert.
We like this recording because it is evident that each band member has given his all. James, he is always charismatic on stage. His guitar riffs are beautiful. The way he rallied the crowd, we could feel it even though we were in front of our TV. Robert is as usual, entertaining to watch on stage. The frequent eye contacts he has with Lars – as later on expressed during the interview – is due to the fact that he as a bassist needs to feel connected with the drummer and to feel the flow of the beats. And Lars, what a joy to watch. He could hold the beats fast and steady, seated or on his feet. He must be the most hardworking man on stage. Initially, Kirk did not seem to receive as much air time as the rest of the members. But when he did, it was when he was playing his mad guitar solos. Kirk admitted in the interview that he does not necessarily play the same solo all the time. I suppose that is what make the performance comes alive.
Some tracks moved the crowd better than others. I guess that is fact in life. Some songs are so majestically executed that you could see the triumphant joy and expression of James at the end of the track. The success of “Death Magnetic” has played a vital role in the success of their tour because often, the crowd tends to like the more familiar classic tracks better. However, some of the songs taken from the new album did just as well, meshing in cohesively with their songs written 25 years ago.
I cannot think of any metal band that can deliver a performance as electrifying as Metallica; I cannot think of a more unique venue than an ancient Coliseum; I cannot think of a better media format to capture the essence of the live concert today than in HD. Hence, if you are a Metallica fan, “Francais Pour Une Nuit” in Blu-ray format is a must-have. Stick around for the 40 minutes interview too. It is interesting to see how each member responded to the same question differently (in the backdrop of the Coliseum) – from the “true value” of the band to their involvement with the game “Guitar Hero”.