"We were created to do this."

There was no arguing with James Hetfield's statement when he declared it to the more than 18,000 fans for the first night of Metallica's 40th anniversary celebration on Friday, Dec. 17. San Francisco's Chase Center was packed to the brim with an audience made up exclusively of members from Metallica's fan club, representing cities, states and countries from across the globe.

In celebration of their 40 years together as a band, Metallica planned a takeover of their hometown and Friday night was their first of two sold-out performances at Chase Center. The last time the boys played that venue was with The San Francisco Symphony for their S&M2 shows in 2019, which ended up being their final shows before the coronavirus pandemic shut down live music for the better part of 18 months.

Their return to the Bay Area arena was energetic and totally focused on the band's history; videos of concert footage, interviews and photos played in-between songs for the nearly two-hour set. Hetfield didn't spend much time talking to the audience and instead guided fans through 16 songs that covered their entire studio discography.

Unlike the 30th anniversary shows at the Fillmore Theatre a decade ago, there were no special guests, but that doesn't mean there were no surprises.

Fans were greeted early in the set with the rarely-played "Trapped Under Ice" from Ride the Lightning, and Metallica delivered the live debut of Reload's "Fixxxer." One of the highlights of the evening came after a video played that included footage of Cliff Burton performing live as well as an interview with Jason Newsted. As the footage wrapped up, the band tore into an unforgettable, and also rare, performance of "Orion" from Master of Puppets.

Hardwired...To Self Destruct's behemoth of a thrasher "Spit Out the Bone" closed the night, and in a surprise to nearly everyone in the arena, there was no encore. Hetfield and company promised that they had plenty more to give fans, though, as they have another night of celebration planned for Sunday, Dec. 19. Like Friday's concert, fans will be able to livestream the second anniversary show via The Coda Collection.

While fans may have expected more distinct treats throughout the evening—the opening "warm-up" act featuring comedian Dean Delray and Public Enemy's DJ Lord wasn't met with much enthusiasm from the crowd—there was no doubt that this was a celebration like only Metallica could throw.

Metallica Setlist — Dec. 17, 2021 at The Chase Center in San Francisco, California

1. "Hit the Lights"
2. "Creeping Death"
3. "Trapped Under Ice"
4. "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)"
5. "Orion"
6. "The Shortest Straw"
7. "One"
8. "Sad But True"
9. "Nothing Else Matters"
10. "King Nothing"
11. "Fixxxer" (Live debut)
12. "Breadfan" (Budgie cover)
13. "No Leaf Clover"
14. "Frantic"
15. "The Day That Never Comes"
16. "Spit Out the Bone"

Photos From Metallica's 40th Anniversary Show

Photos from the first show of Metallica's 40th anniversary celebration at the Chase Center in San Francisco.

Metallica: A Photo Timeline of Their Remarkable Career

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