After over 30 years, Metallica has still got it… for the most part. Last night, Metallica upped the ante as they reached the midway point of their week long residency on The Late Late Show, performing a “Ride the Lightning” fan-favorite, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” During different parts of the song, each member of the band got to showcase their technical skill, trading off on solos during different parts of the song. Earlier in the week, the band dove back deep into their catalog, performing “Hit the Lights” off of their debut album, “Kill ‘Em All.” The following night, Metallica fast-forwarded to 1997 with a high-octane performance of “Fuel.”
Through over 30 years of tearing up the main stage with their raucous, high-energy style, it goes without saying that television studios are quite an awkward place to perform. Metallica goes from playing in front of many thousands of screaming fans at festivals, to a quiet late night television studio, so this was far from a routine performance in all senses of the word. As a band, you feel the momentum build as the crowd projects their energy and it helps you perform as you match it. So what do you do when you perform to a silent crowd? Something has to give. With all things considered, sound appears to have been an issue during these performances, and perhaps, everything that has to do with the drums as well.
During the breakdown at the end of “Ride the Lightning,” Lars Ulrich stands up as he beats the toms and thrashes about on the china. In fact, it’s literally almost the only thing you hear. The guitars were modestly quiet at best, and James’ voice was mixed drier than sand. At one point, his vocals were gaudily sent through to a deep echo at the end of his verses in order to try and match the studio recording version. It didn’t really work.
Although their sound guy could have used some help, I genuinely enjoyed their performance as it’s not every night you see metal legends such as Metallica grace a late night television stage. Is late night television really the place for metal? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Watch Metallica’s late night performances of “Hit the Lights” and “Fuel” below:
(Check back as we add more videos throughout their residency.)