Metallica surprised festivalgoers with a performance of their hit-strewn Black Album at Louisville’s Louder Than Life event Sunday night. The band, which also played the fest Friday night, had promised two unique setlists for the weekend but did not reveal it would be reviving a run-through of its bestselling record, which recently turned 30.
Either because they were feeling iconoclastic or because all the hits are at the beginning of the album, the group played the record in reverse order. That meant kicking things off with the technically demanding “Struggle Within,” which features snaking guitar riffs.
Fan-shot video shows James Hetfield holding his head high as he and Kirk Hammett play the theme from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story number “America,” which kicks into the swaggering, rarely played “Don’t Tread on Me.” Metallica have not played either of those songs since June 24, 2012, the last time they played the Black Album in full (and in reverse) for their own Orion Festival. Another infrequently song they resuscitated was the moody “My Friend of Misery,” which they haven’t played since the 2013 Soundwave festival in Melbourne. The band has played these three songs a fraction of the times it has whipped out the record’s big hits, “Enter Sandman,” “Nothing Else Matters,” and “Sad But True.”
The performance follows two other acknowledgments on the band’s part of the Black Album’s significance. Earlier this month, Metallica put out a massive box set collecting demos, rehearsals, live performances, and more alongside a remastered copy of the original album, and they put out The Blacklist, a supersized covers compilation. The latter features renditions of every track on the record by Miley Cyrus, Chris Stapleton, Alessia Cara, Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, Weezer, J Balvin, and others.
“A great song can be played any way,” Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker, who sings “Nothing Else Matters” on the set, told Rolling Stone. “You play it reggae, heavy, country — it will still be a great song.”
From Rolling Stone US