Metallica’s Lars Ulrich Recalls Biggest ‘Spinal Tap’ Moment of His Touring Career
Metallica may be one of the most successful and enduring bands in the heavy music world, but even they've had some moments that seem a little less than professional. While appearing on the Smartless Podcast with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett (as heard below), drummer Lars Ulrich reveals what could be best described as a Spinal Tap moment that occurred at a period where the band was arguably at their peak in popularity.
Setting the scene, Ulrich tells the hosts, "You talk about malfunctions and the first one that comes to mind because it left a deep, deep scar .... we were touring on the Black Album, which was our most successful record up to then. We had been in a America for maybe a year, year-and-a-half and we had done the Guns N' Roses tour and we were starting in Europe. We were playing in London, and at the time London is just press and business and peers and publicity and all the people from all the record companies and the publicists and everybody from all of Europe is there. It's London. And at that time it's all the music magazines with NME and Kerrang and blah, blah, blah."
The drummer explains, "So we're playing in the round, which we still do. I have a drumkit on either side of the stage and halfway through the set, I'm supposed to run over and I'm supposed to sit on the other drumkit as it lifts out of the stage and then I'll play the other half of the show over on the other side. So you can probably guess what happened?"
Ulrich then reveals the cringey details, sharing, "This is the first big show of our European tour and everybody in our universe is there and so the drumkit is under the stage, I'm on the drumkit and it won't fucking lift up out of the stage. So my view is not 20,000 crazy fucking people in Wembley Arena, it's all the nuts and bolts and steel and 12 roadies that are down under the stage with crowbars and screwdrivers and hammers doing whatever they're doing to try to get this thing to lift up out of the stage."
As Ulrich recalled, "I ended up playing a song-and-a-half under the stage, submerged, just sitting there as Metallica are supposed to be there having all these articles written about their triumphant return back to Europe after three years, after being the biggest band in America. But the whole fucking story was about Lars' fucking drums that didn't want to come out of the stage. Welcome back to Europe."
The drummer did confirm to Hayes that the roadies were ultimately successful in getting the drumkit to lift, but for a period he was nowhere to be seen, only heard, by the packed audience in Wembley that day.
These days the mostly visible Ulrich is rocking stages with Metallica with one of the biggest tours of 2023. After their Oct. 8 appearance at the Power Trip festival in Indio, California, the group has November stops in St. Louis and Detroit where they'll continue to play two nights with completely different setlists. Get ticketing info here.