Lars Ulrich Describes What Makes a Good Opening Song for Concerts
Metallica have been playing two shows in every city throughout 2023, and at each stop of their North American leg so far, they've opened with "Creeping Death" one night and "Whiplash" the next. During a new interview with The New York Times, Lars Ulrich described what makes a good opening song for concerts.
Both tracks are oldies in terms of Metallica's discography, as "Whiplash" is from their 1983 debut Kill 'Em All and "Creeping Death" is from 1984's Ride the Lightning. Ulrich considers the latter a "fan-favorite," and explained why he likes opening with that song in particular.
"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," the drummer said [via Metal Injection]. "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 [Hetfield] gets everybody pretty engaged."
Setlist.fm's Tour Statistics page notes that "Creeping Death" is actually Metallica's second most-played song ever, having been played at over 1,600 concerts. They've played "Whiplash" around 961 times, thus it's their twelfth most-played track.
As far as what the rocker thinks makes a good setlist opener, he said that different people will have different opinions since their preferences vary.
"But after a while, you start figuring out instinctively that this song maybe works better than this other song," he added. "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."
The North American leg of Metallica's M72 world tour — which features support from Mammoth WVH, Pantera, Ice Nine Kills and Fiver Finger Death Punch — continues tomorrow night (Aug. 18) in Arlington, Texas. See the rest of the upcoming dates at this location.