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  • The Metal Voice

Sword's Rick Hughes Looks Back At Metallica & Guns N' Roses' Montreal Riot in 1992 on CJAD 800

Metallica is set to play shows at Montreal's Olympic Stadium this Friday and Sunday. Rick Hughes, lead singer of Quebec metal band, Sword, previews the concerts and looks back at the band's history with Montreal and the Big O.

It’s August 1992 and Metallica are on a high, touring the Black Album, the record that would send them into the commercial stratosphere.

The band are crossing North America, co-headlining a travelling festival that’s monolithic in scope and style, accompanied by the day’s other hard rock behemoths, Guns N’ Roses. The 55,000 capacity Olympic Stadium in Montreal is sold out, and an expectant crowd have no idea what's about to unfurl in the following hours.

Earlier, the band’s crew briefed the band on the evening's pyrotechnics. They've decided to increase the number of half-pound aluminium powder charges used during the performance, situating the explosives at the front of the stage as well as on its outside wings.

And a dozen songs into their set, frontman James Hetfield steps into a 12-foot high torch of fire., gets rushed to the hospital.

Back at the stadium, Guns N’ Roses – never a band to pour oil on troubled waters

– refused to bring their stage time forward to help compensate for Metallica’s straitened set. When they finally took the stage, two hours after Metallica had finished their show, they managed a scant nine songs before an irate Axl Rose abandoned ship, citing a faulty sound system and telling the crowd: “In case anybody here is interested, this will be our last show for a long time.”

The crowd, no doubt feeling a little short-changed by the evening’s events, began to riot, overturning concession stands and setting fire to garbage cans, before spilling out into the city’s streets, torching cars, overturning a police cruiser and even uprooting a street lamp.

Damage was estimated at $400,000 US, with ten people injured and at least half a dozen people arrested. And, as if to add insult to injury, the remaining members of Metallica found themselves held backstage for their own safety, nixing any idea of heading to the hospital to check in on Hetfield. They finally made it back onto Montreal’s subdued streets at 4.30am the next morning.

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