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Metallica rocks with thousands of fans in Grand Forks

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James Hetfield belts out a tune during Saturday's Metallica concert at the Alerus Center. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald2 / 11
A Metallica fan shows his enthusiasm at Saturday's concert. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald3 / 11
Metallica fans line up around the Alerus Center Saturday. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald4 / 11
Bass guitarist Robert Trujillo performs Saturday at the Alerus Center. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald5 / 11
James Hetfield performs on "Seek and Destroy" at Saturday's concert. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald6 / 11
Metallica fans line up to buy memorabilia at Saturday's concert. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald7 / 11
Founding members Lars Ulrich on drums and James Hetfield on guitar perform. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald8 / 11
Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett fires up the crowd. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald9 / 11
Donald and Jenna Haugen are introduced to the crowd by comedian Jim Breuer, who opened for Metallica. The Haugens' wedding was next door in the Alerus Center. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald10 / 11
Thousands of fans gather at the Alerus Center for Metallica Saturday. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald11 / 11

James Burchman traveled to Grand Forks from Galena, Kan. to see Metallica.

He and his friend, Ron Webb of Mandan, N.D., have seen the rock band numerous times, but they keep coming back for the headbanging experience for one reason.

"Because they rock," Webb said. "They get your blood moving."

The band that has been going strong for nearly four decades didn't disappoint. Thousands flooded into the Alerus Center Saturday night to see Metallica, which kicked off the concert with a fiery light show, heavy guitar riffs and enough decibels to shake the any seat in the house.

It's uncertain how many tickets were sold for the concert before it started, but it was expected to be one of the biggest music events in Grand Forks history. Fans from across the region poured onto the Alerus Center floor to surround the stage in the middle. Others sat in the stands on either side of the stadium that typically hosts UND football.

The stands weren't completely full for the venue that can hold 21,000 people, but the Alerus Center appeared to be near capacity. George Strait holds the record for most tickets sold for a Grand Forks concert when he sold more than 19,500 tickets for his "The Cowboy Rides Away" tour in 2013.

But concertgoers had a night of rock on their minds. Comedian Jim Breuer warmed up the crowd, and he had die-hard fans who had been to multiple Metallica events welcoming first-timers. A lucky bride and groom that had their wedding reception in the Alerus Center was invited to have their first dance on the stage just before Metallica began to play.

"Welcome to the family," the crowd shouted.

The band pulled out all of the tricks, from flame shooters to using what appeared to be small drones to give a starry effect for one song.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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