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Metallica at Download Festival 2004 by Sara Bowrey
Metallica at Download Festival 2004 by Sara Bowrey

With drummer Lars Ulrich hospitalised a clutch of metal's finest drummers prevent Download Festival headliners Metallica cancelling at the last minute. Exclusive pictures here!

With the festival sold out and the sunshine boiling frustrations, it could have ended in a riot if Metallica had cancelled. Lesser bands would have folded in the face of such adversity, but Metallica were not going to let a ‘sick’ drummer spoil the party.

A frantic backstage call for arms (and sticks) rallied an impressive contingent of troops from other artists. A secret spur-of-the-moment rehearsal/audition was held in the band’s dressing room to decide a set-list with the band finally turning up around 10.00pm.

The crowd were not informed of the crisis unfolding backstage, and patience was beginning to wear thin after the band had failed to appear, more than an hour after their due time, evoking the festive chant of “You’re shit!”.

[r-zone1]When the ‘Ecstacy of Gold’ intro music finally kicked in the boos became frenzied cheers. These soon faded, as the three emerging band members walked solemnly to the front of the stage. Singer James Hetfield was quick to get to the point.

He said: “We would like to apologise for being so late to start, but only three of us made it down here to Donington today. Unfortunately our drummer, Lars, is in hospital. We don’t know what’s wrong, but we wish him all the best. Some friends of ours are gonna help us out, so we’re going to make rock history tonight!
[l-zone2]First in the hot seat was Slayer‘s Dave Lombardo, much to the crowd’s obvious delight, as the band kicked off with an apprehensive ‘Battery’, and just about pulled it off, with a lot of nodding from Hetfield and bassist Rob Trujillo. Next up was Slipknot‘s Joey Jordison, and then something magical happened. Surging into ‘Whiplash’, the remaining band members were unable to contain their smiles as it quickly became apparent that the small, demure figure behind the kit was not so much their salvation, as their hero of the day.

As his confidence grew, Jodison began to add his own flavour, improvising thundering fills over ‘Creep and Death’ and ‘Seek and Destroy’, much to the glee of beaming guitarist Kirk Hammett. After a brief and not-entirely-successful attempt by drum tech Flemming to cover on a ropey ‘Fade to Black’, plans to bring on Life of Agony‘s Sal Abruscato and bring back Lombardo and Flemming were swiftly aborted. Metallica had found their drummer for the night!

[r-zone3]After what will long be remembered as a truly legendary performance, a clearly shell-shocked Jordison staggered off-stage to an emotional reunion with his unmasked Slipknot bandmates. Slipknot singer Corey was heard to proclaim ‘You just made rock history, dude!’

Metallica’s setlist:(Joey Jordison unless noted)

  • Battery (Dave Lombardo)

  • Four Horsemen  (Dave Lombardo)

  • Whiplash

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls

  • Creeping Death

  • Am I Evil

  • Seek and Destroy

  • Last Caress

  • Fade to Black (Flemming, the drum tech)

  • Wherever I may Roam

  • Sad But True

  • Nothing Else Matters

  • Enter Sandman

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