Heavy metal's best ignite Seattle crowd on Metallica's Summer Sanitarium Tour

It was nirvana for metal heads. The Summer Sanitarium Tour, a monster of a concert featuring the metal bands of the moment, rolled into Seahawks Stadium yesterday for a day of pure metal mayhem.

Metallica, the elder statesmen of metal, assembled an untouchable lineup of acts: Mudvayne and the Deftones, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit.

The real heavyweights of the evening demonstrated why they are as vital as ever. While many bands would have peaked by now, Metallica continues to shape a scene it pioneered some 20 years ago.

"Now your friends in Metallica are here to take you to a whole other level," frontman James Hetfield told the swelling crowd.

The band wasted no time giving the fans what they wanted: classic Metallica.

"Battery" and "Master of Puppets," the benchmarks of thrash metal in all of its fuel-frenzied glory, were perfect to launch Metallica's set. The band dedicated "Harvester of Sorrow" to its faithful fans, to whom was promised an unforgettable night of music.

The band has never sounded better: the blazing finger-work of guitarist Kirk Hammett fit seamlessly with the frenetic energy released by drummer Lars Ulrich; Hetfield's distinctive voice, which moves from sinister to sorrowful without losing pitch, still packs a punch. The band's latest addition, bassist Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies, Ozzy Osbourne), who replaced Jason Newsted, is a natural fit.

Tucked in between the old Metallica were a few cuts from its newest album, "St. Anger," including the title track, which many in the audience knew well enough to sing along.

After tearing into "No Remorse," from the band's debut album "Kill 'Em All," Hetfield asked, "You want to hear some more 'Kill 'Em All'?" (Which he joked was released in 1962). It was a full-throttle sing-along with the crowd when the band unleashed an intense version of "Seek and Destroy," packed with killer-guitar licks and heart-pounding percussion.

They stayed strong until the very last note, turning in rousing versions of "Nothing Else Matters," "One" and "Enter Sandman."

"We want everyone leaving here having had a good time," Hetfield said.

Mission accomplished.

The other acts on the Summer Sanitarium Tour held up their part of the show as well.

Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, a larger-than-life, love-'em or hate-'em figure, got the sun- and sweat-soaked crowd into a frenzy from the moment he swaggered onto the stage. Just minutes into their set, Durst and Company were dodging empty water bottles and a smattering of boos and hisses.

But the heckling stopped once the band kicked in with "Break Stuff," which he dedicated to Britney Spears (the subject of an alleged dalliance with Durst, which the pop princess said never happened).

"Seattle is on fire right now," Durst said. "It looks like we are going to have a rowdy time. Bring it on."

At one point, Metallica's Ulrich joined Bizkit behind the kit for some blazing thrashing around, and in turn, Limp Bizkit paid homage to one of its greatest influences by playing an effective version of "Sanitarium."

The Bizkit standards were there, including "Nookie" and "Re-Arranged," but it was a very unBizkit-like song, George Michael's "Faith," which the band has covered for a few years now, that was a provocative crescendo for a loud, explosive set (thanks in part to a dramatic pyrotechnics display).

After abbreviated sets by Mudvayne and the Deftones, co-headliner Linkin Park exploded onto the stage and offered up an incendiary hour-plus of music.

Linkin Park pummeled the audience with a finely tuned "greatest hits" of sorts, from 2000's "Hybrid Theory" and its most recent release, "Meteora."

Although they might be young guns in the world of metal, they've got depth and passion, and know how to put on a show that rocks, one that is a hybrid of rock, hip-hop and metal.

The group's in-house DJ, Joe Hahn, has an urban style that infuses freshness into Linkin Park's metal-rock sound.

The house exploded as singer Chester Bennington incited the crowd to sing along with "Crawling," and "In The End," from 2000's "Hybrid Theory."

When Bennington sings it's as though he reaches down to his core and pulls the music out, his lithe frame contorting as he delivers the goods.

When he roared "Don't turn your back on me, I won't be ignored," from "Faint," it was immediately clear that this Southern California nu-metal ensemble isn't going away anytime soon.

Tina Potterf: 206-464-8214 or tpotterf@seattletimes.com

Concert review

Summer Sanitarium Tour, with Metallica, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Mudvayne and the Deftones, yesterday, Seahawks Stadium, Seattle.