Is Metallica Playing the Right Songs on the M72 Tour? Roundtable
Metallica is taking on a big new challenge with their M72 world tour, playing two completely different sets with no repeated songs in every city they visit. Our writers answer five questions about the ambitious trek below.
Overall, is the "No Repeat Weekend" actually good in execution? Are fans getting interesting/deep cuts, or is it just a way to trim the sets every night and play two versions of a greatest hits set?
Bryan Rolli: As with most late-career Metallica endeavors, the concept has been better than the execution so far. As it stands now, they’re basically splitting their admittedly massive collection of hits and fan favorites into “A” and “B” sets, sprinkling in a few rarities at each show. On any given night you’ll probably get a fine set, but not an extraordinary one. I know I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up for a pair of radically different set lists stuffed with deep cuts, but what can I say? I’m a Metallica fan, and it’s my cross to bear.
Chuck Armstrong: The promise was two unique set lists and so it’s undeniable that it’s being executed well by the band. They are absolutely delivering on that promise. And we can argue about deep cuts or interesting picks, but if you look at night one in Paris, the first four songs featured two live rarities—“Holier Than Thou” and “I Disappear.” Then that’s followed by two brand-new tracks from 72 Seasons, which marked the first time for nearly everyone in the stadium to hear those in the live setting. The fact that they’re including “Orion” and “The Call of Ktulu” in the two nights is pretty great, too. And for what it’s worth, two versions of a greatest hits set with no repeats and a handful of brand-new tracks? Not a whole lot of bands could do that and keep the music world’s attention.
Gary Graff: Metallica shows are always accompanied by great expectations, to the point where maybe the band can never win. In its first two weekends the tour has lived up to its promise of a completely different show between the two nights, with modest changes so far between cities. And even though each of the nights so far has been filled with staples, we'd probably rebel if they were missing -- especially with the big impact that's required in a stadium. So there's a balance, and it's nice to have stuff like "Cyanide," "I Disappear," "Holier Than Thou" and the return of "Until It Sleeps" dropped into the usual/expected favorites. There's a dedicated constituency that would be OK not hearing "Enter Sandman," "One," "Seek & Destroy" or "Master of Puppets" again but rest assured that a) it's a small constituency and b) they're lying anyway.
Matt Wardlaw: I think it's early in the game, but the initial set lists that we've seen so far show that they might have some fun, not just with the song selections, but where they're played. It was cool to see "For Whom the Bell Tolls," a traditional presence late in the set, spiked in as the opening song of their first night in Paris on this current tour. One of the frustrating things about the current Bruce Springsteen tour is that the wild card slots are predictable and few. If Metallica can truly open up their set lists and play a large variety of songs across the entire tour, I think this whole idea will really pay off.
Matthew Wilkening: First off, let's acknowledge that they were inspired by the WWE expanding Wrestlemania to two nights in 2020. It's cool that Metallica tries new things like this. They could probably play the same venue twice without any "no repeat" promise so it's nice for the hardcore fans to be able to see two different shows. For more casual fans who would like to go to one show and hear both "Master of Puppets" and "Enter Sandman," it probably comes off as a bit of a loss.
Watch Metallica Perform 'Sleepwalk My Life Away' During the M72 Tour
Should they be playing more or fewer songs from 72 Seasons? Which songs would you add and/or remove and why?
Rolli: Three new songs a night is perfectly fine. I suspect they’ll keep the four singles in heavy rotation and gradually work their way through the rest of the album over the course of the tour, which is A-OK with me. Half of the people going to this tour probably refinanced their mortgages and neglected to feed their kids to afford tickets; there’s no need to browbeat them with six new songs a night. I’m not champing at the bit to hear anything off 72 Seasons in particular, but I would definitely trade “Sleepwalk My Life Away” and “You Must Burn!” for more uptempo cuts like “Shadows Follow,” “Too Far Gone?” or “Chasing Light."
Armstrong: I would love to see more tracks from 72 Seasons in these set lists. “Too Far Gone?” and “Room of Mirrors” need to absolutely become regular staples, as does “Chasing Light” and “Shadows Follow.” Keep playing the title track and the other songs that were released before the album dropped, but sprinkle in some of these other riff-heavy tunes that highlight how tight the band sounds—and more importantly, how good James Hetfield sounds.
Graff: The eternal conundrum, isn't it? We can slam 'em for playing too little and therefore not showing a lot of confidence in the new material, but then if they add more we'll bitch about what they're NOT playing because of that. Three new songs is probably right for a 16-song set list, and the six they've played so far are all good choices. I'm betting that, because of its nature, Metallica winds up working all 12 tracks into the show over the course of the tour and am really looking forward to "Shadows Follow," "Chasing Light" and, at some juncture, the epic "Inamorata."
Wardlaw: Six songs across the two nights is enough. I think it's probably safe to say that we'll hear all of the songs eventually on this current trek. That being said, "Shadows Follow" and "Chasing Light" are two that I can't wait to hear. Both are high-energy and would be great additions. Of course, "Inamorata" would be awesome, as the token really long song on this new album. "Screaming Suicide" is probably my least favorite track on the latest album, so I'd be fine with taking that — and the title track — out of the set.
Wilkening: Three a night seems about right. If they wanted to get more experimental with this "no repeat" concept they could do one hits-filled night and one focused on the new album and rarities, but that would probably result in less ticket sales. I know this would take up a big chunk of set list time, but I'd love to hear 72 Seasons' 11-minute closer "Inamorata" performed live.
Watch Metallica Perform '72 Seasons' During the M72 Tour
Rolli: Night one, for one simple reason: “Master of Puppets.” The thought of going to a Metallica show and not hearing that song is unconscionable. In general, night one seems to trend a little more thrashy, while night two has more of the stadium-metal staples. I’m also happy to see “Holier Than Thou” back in semi-regular rotation on night one. I would definitely miss hearing “Creeping Death,” which seems firmly slotted for night two, but it’s a sacrifice I'm happy to make if it means not having to endure "Enter Sandman" for the gazillionth time.
Armstrong: It’s tough, but I would go with night two based purely on the 72 Seasons tracks. From what I’ve heard online, “72 Seasons” takes on a new life onstage and I’d love to hear “You Must Burn!,” too. Not to mention, the opening one-two-three punch of “Creeping Death,” “Harvester of Sorrow” and “Cyanide” is pretty heavy.
Graff: They're actually tough choices, so good for them. I'd personally favor night one just because they have so far dug a bit deeper. After all these years I'd be OK without "One" or "Enter Sandman" -- at least I say that now, until I'm actually there and decide I really do miss 'em.
Wardlaw: It's a tough call, but I'd probably go with the second night, which seems to be the more adventurous of the two, in quite a few spots. I love the fire they put into songs like "King Nothing" and "Harvester of Sorrow" these days.
Wilkening: Even though night one has the only Kill 'Em All track and "Master of Puppets," I'm taking night two for "Creeping Death," "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)," "Moth Info Flame," "Battery" and the welcome absence of "Nothing Else Matters."
Watch Metallica Perform 'I Disappear' During the M72 Tour
Again, using Paris as a starting point, which songs would you remove from the combined two-night set list and why?
Rolli: This might be controversial, but I’d scrap “Orion” and “The Call of Ktulu” right away. I don’t care how good your nine-minute instrumental track is; leave it for the house music. “Whiskey in the Jar” gets the ax too, along with “The Day That Never Comes” and “King Nothing.” And for the love of God, do not disrespect my time and money with “I Disappear.”
Armstrong: I don’t need “Whiskey in the Jar.” I’ll take everything else with open arms. As much as I enjoy the song, I think it’s a bit of a momentum killer when you’re going from “Moth Into Flame” and “Battery” into “Whiskey.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun. It just doesn’t quite live up to the weight of the rest of the set list.
Graff: A good argument could be made that these have so far been fat-free shows; it's genuinely hard to find any outright duds in any of the sets. That said, while "I Disappear" is a nice rarity it's not really top-shelf Metallica and could certainly be replaced by something more resonant.
Wilkening: I've never understood what people liked about mid-tempo Black Album tracks like "Wherever I May Roam" and "Unforgiven," so those, the instrumentals and "Whiskey in the Jar" could be easily cut.
Watch Metallica Perform 'Whiskey in the Jar' During the M72 Tour
Which songs would you add in the place of the songs removed in question 4? Is there any album that isn't getting enough attention at these shows?
Rolli: “To Live Is to Die”! Kidding. But really, … And Justice for All has gone fairly underrepresented on this tour so far. Why not unearth some deep cuts like “The Shortest Straw” or “Eye of the Beholder”? For the Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets exclusions, sub in “Trapped Under Ice” and “Disposable Heroes,” respectively. As far as post-Black Album cuts go, “Ain’t My Bitch” and “2x4” would crush live. And if they insist on playing covers, they might as well get the blood pumping with “Stone Cold Crazy” or “Am I Evil.” Oh, and fellas, remember when you literally invented thrash metal with Kill ‘Em All? You might want to think about playing more than one song (“Seek & Destroy”) off that.
Armstrong: I want “Trapped Under Ice” or “Bleeding Me” to become a regular addition to Metallica’s set lists. They pulled these both out during their summer tour across Europe in 2022 and if you caught the live recordings of them, they sounded amazing. They’ve played “Trapped Under Ice” only 28 times since 1984 and “Bleeding Me” is at 164 times since 1996. Both of these songs get elevated when they’re performed live and I’d love to see these become staples on the M72 tour. If I had to pick a third, I’d go with another Load track: “Wasting My Hate.” When they played that at their 40th anniversary shows in 2021, it blew me away. More of that, please!
Graff: Of course we need more Lulu. (Kidding!) Kill 'em All has been noticeably under-represented, as well as Reload, though we mind the latter less. Otherwise, with less than 40 songs played so far we could stack up a big ol' list of tracks we'd like to hear, such as "Hit the Lights" and a bunch of others. It would be interesting to hear the "Whiskey in the Jar" spot on Night Two be used for a different cover each time out, from Garage Inc. or beyond.
Wardlaw: It would be great to hear something like "All Nightmare Long" as far as the more recent Metallica material. Going back further, "The Four Horsemen" from Kill 'Em All and "The Shortest Straw" from ...And Justice for All would be my other quick picks. Kill 'Em All feels like the album that really gets left out in the cold a lot on this current tour. But it's hardly alone — with the band sticking to a rigid 16 song set, that doesn't leave a lot of room. They're routinely performing six songs total from 72 Seasons and the Black Album each night, which leaves just 10 songs to cover the rest of their 40-plus-year history. That's hardly enough when you look at this group's catalog of songs.
Wilkening: Add as many Kill 'Em All songs as possible.
Watch Metallica Perform 'Screaming Suicide' During the M72 Tour