Metallica vocalist James Hetfield had warned things could get perilous at the start of the band's fifth tour of Mexico, saying "We're very focused on how dangerous this show is."
The audience of more than 22,000 believed it too. Many of the fans were visibly terrified Saturday night as the band re-enacted its burn-down-the-stage performance from 1998's "Cunning Stunts" video album.
At one point a technician fled across the stage like a human torch in a Mexico City show that featured explosions, pyrotechnics, laser lights and the odd giant coffin.
Hours earlier Hetfield said the tour would cover the band's 31 years of performing.
Metallica has scheduled seven more shows at Mexico City's Sports Palace before heading to dates in San Francisco and Edmonton, Canada.