Lars Ulrich Says Human Element is the Key to Metallica’s Live Show
Fans that made it out to Metallica’s inaugural Orion Festival were served up two nights of meaty Metallica headlining sets. Day one featured their 1984 disc ‘Ride the Lightning’ in its entirety followed by their self-titled 1991 release, more commonly referred to as the Black Album, on day two.
Digging back that far and even playing songs Metallica has never played live before, may sound like a recipe for a lot of practicing. But according to drummer Lars Ulrich, “Metallica and rehearsal are two words that don’t spend a lot of time together.”
In a recent interview with 98 Rock in Baltimore, Md. leading up to Orion, Ulrich described the band’s more laid back approach to brushing up on their past discography. “Were generally pretty played in, like I said before, we don’t sort of disappear for so long that we have to work our way back up to touring shape,” explained Ulrich. “We’re mostly in touring shape and playing shape continually.”
Of course, it doesn’t always come so easy. “Obviously a song like ‘Escape’ which we’re going to play tomorrow that we’ve never played, we sort of ran that a few times in Europe in a few of the tuning rooms,” said Ulrich. “We haven’t played ‘Fade to Black’ this year, we ran that earlier. That’s a little bit of a muscle memory, we know that one fairly well. ‘The Call of Ktulu’ we played a couple times last year. We’re all fairly good with sort of saying, ‘Oh we’re going to play something we haven’t played’ and everybody kind of does their homework.”
Ulrich thinks the key to pulling it all off is to be fearless, explaining, “If you’re not scared, which none of us are really scared of this kind of stuff, or intimidated, you can get away with a lot.”
Fans hoping to hear a precise Metallica set list from start to finish may be disappointed, because according to Ulrich, that’s not really their goal these days. “As I get older and as Metallica ages, the word perfection it’s just not something that we’re interested in,” Ulrich admits. “We’re more interested in the human elements and we’re not uncomfortable with kind of sharing the human side of who we are.”
He continued, explaining where the band is at these days, "I think increasingly for Metallica, our vibe, our future, our mojo is to kind of play more songs, vary the set list, be a little loosey goosey, make it more fun and more human in a way than this kind of military precision kind of thing that completely just perfect all the time."
Judging by all the rave reviews, that laid back approach with an emphasis on a more human element was a raging success, so here’s to the return of Orion Festival next year!