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LARS ULRICH Explains How METALLICA Chooses Set Openers

He also touches on James Hetfield's emotional "Fade To Black" speeches.

metallica lars ulrich
Photo: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Metallica is out on the road playing their No Repeat Weekend tour in support of 72 Seasons. Which means that Metallica is playing the same city twice every weekend with completely different setlists.

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So how does the band go about choosing an opener for each night? In an interview with The New York Times, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich explained what makes a good opener after talking a little about how much he loves "Creeping Death".

"This is one we would call a fan favorite, and it's not one that we always play. It's got really good energy in the riff, and it sits in a kind of an up-tempo place without being so super fast that it just becomes, like, an indistinguishable roar. But it's got good accents, good dynamics. It's got a breakdown after the second chorus and the guitar solo, where it goes to a shout-along part where James gets everybody pretty engaged.

"What makes a good opening song? I mean, ask a hundred people, you get a hundred different answers. So none of this is science. But after a while, you start figuring out instinctively that this song maybe works better than this other song. Often when you are touring on the back of an album, the default is to open with the opening track off the album that you're touring with. I wanted purposely to not do that, just to sort of challenge ourselves."

Ulrich also touched on James Hetfield's emotional speeches before playing "Fade To Black", saying Hetfield has gotten pretty comfortable on stage over the years and that Metallica wants everyone to feel like they're in things together.

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"We're all very open about where we're at with our moods and all of us dealing with various levels of mental health. And that feels like it's less of a taboo than it was, say, 20 or 30 years ago. I think James, increasingly, is very comfortable onstage talking about how he's doing and how he's feeling, and often he'll send 'Fade to Black' off with some personal thoughts or something that relates to how he's doing in that moment, in the spirit of sending good energy to people who are receiving it from a place of struggle.

"And the takeaway message is that you're not alone, and that we're in this together. I'm an only child. I've struggled with being an outsider and a loner all my life. And, you know, being in a band, playing concerts and all that is the best remedy for me to feel that I'm not alone."

Catch Metallica at one of their seemingly infinite tour dates below. Get tickets here.

Show No. 1 opened each night by Pantera & Mammoth WVH, Show No. 2 by Five Finger Death Punch & Ice Nine Kills

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8/18/23 Arlington TX AT&T Stadium
8/20/23 Arlington TX AT&T Stadium
8/25/23 Inglewood CA SoFi Stadium
8/27/23 Inglewood CA SoFi Stadium
9/1/23 Glendale AZ State Farm Stadium
9/3/23 Glendale AZ State Farm Stadium
10/3/23 St. Louis MO The Dome at America’s Center
10/5/23 St. Louis MO The Dome at America’s Center
10/10/23 Detroit MI Ford Field
10/12/23 Detroit MI Ford Field
5/24/24 Munich DE Olympiastadion
5/26/24 Munich DE Olympiastadion
6/7/24 Helsinki FI Olympic Stadium
6/9/24 Helsinki FI Olympic Stadium
6/14/24 Copenhagen DK Parken Stadium
6/16/24 Copenhagen DK Parken Stadium
7/5/24 Warsaw PL PGE Narodowy
7/7/24 Warsaw PL PGE Narodowy
7/12/24 Madrid ES Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano
7/14/24 Madrid ES Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano
8/2/24 Foxborough MA Gillette Stadium
8/4/24 Foxborough MA Gillette Stadium
8/9/24 Chicago IL Soldier Field
8/11/24 Chicago IL Soldier Field
8/16/24 Minneapolis MN US Bank Stadium
8/18/24 Minneapolis MN US Bank Stadium
8/23/24 Edmonton AB Commonwealth Stadium
8/25/24 Edmonton AB Commonwealth Stadium
8/30/24 Seattle WA Lumen Field
9/1/24 Seattle WA Lumen Field
9/20/24 Mexico City MX Foro Sol (w/ Greta Van Fleet no Pantera)
9/22/24 Mexico City MX Foro Sol
9/27/24 Mexico City MX Foro Sol (w/ Greta Van Fleet no Pantera)
9/29/24 Mexico City MX Foro Sol

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