Adding punch to coincide with the ka-blam of John Broderick’s lighting for Metallica’s tour in support of Death Magnetic, Doug Adams of Laser Design Productions and Pyrotek Special Effects was called in for the requisite fire effects (despite lead singer James Hetfield’s onstage pyro accident in 1992) and to add lasers this time around.
“We tried lasers before with a different technology, but it wasn’t quite right, so it went away,” says Adams. “When the band and management decided to reintroduce the idea, John said we should try it for one song only.” So it ended up that one song, seven minutes of “That Was Just Your Life” for the intro, is played with all lasers and no other lighting. The lasers include six 10W DPSS White Lasers hung in the coffins and two seated on stage run live—also not via SMPTE timecode—on a Pangolin show control system. Chris Blair is the tour’s laser crew chief, and Jason McEachern provided programming during rehearsals.
For pyrotechnics, one of Adams’ challenges was to “keep it clean” but effective. When the video was pulled from the production design, more pyro was added. A combination of Pyrotek Double Headed Dragons and Flame Effects are built into the stage at various intervals, as well as Color Flame Units in a centerline on either side of drummer Lars Ulrich. “For ‘One,’ it’s meant to be like a battle scene, where we use a lot of gas effects but without using smoke or concussion effects,” says Adams. Instead, they worked with FOH sound engineer “Big” Mick Hughes to work in an audible effect. “James walks on to that, and then we put Dragons anywhere we could inside the grating inside the stage deck.” Reid Schulte-Derne is the pyro shooter, with Renato Sulmona as pyro gas tech.