METALLICA's LARS ULRICH On Watching AC/DC At POWER TRIP: 'I Actually Got A Little Misty-Eyed A Couple Of Times'

October 21, 2023

During an appearance on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation Power Trip Special", METALLICA's Lars Ulrich spoke about what it was like to see AC/DC play at this year's Power Trip festival in Indio, California. It was the first time lead vocalist Brian Johnson performed live with the group since early 2016 after he was forced to bow out with hearing loss issues and was temporarily replaced by GUNS N' ROSES frontman Axl Rose. "It was — the word 'triumph' is kind of the one that came to mind," Lars said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "It was just a triumph.

"I saw 'em here [at Coachella in Indio]. I think they played here in '15, so eight years ago," he continued. "And I saw 'em in San Francisco later that year. And obviously, as a lifelong fan — I mean, I saw AC/DC back in Denmark opening for BLACK SABBATH in '76 or '77. And then they came back on 'Let There Be Rock' tour and played a 1,500-seat venue with no support act and basically played all of 'Let There Be Rock'. And it was literally fucking mind-blowing. And then I saw them along the way, when I came to America, obviously, on and off, and we played with them for a whole tour on the Black Album in '91."

Circling back to AC/DC's appearance at Power Trip, Lars said: "As a lifelong fan, I actually got a little misty-eyed a couple of times when Angus [Young, AC/DC guitarist] was kind of going out and you could hear the… When he walked out and played his solos on the ramp and stuff, it felt like people were sort of holding him up and really just loving him, appreciating him. And there was a unity. I'm actually getting misty eyed as we're talking about it. There was a unity and it's that unity that you and I have talked about and that thing about when this community comes together around what we all share, that it was just such a beautiful moment. It was just such a triumph. And Brian who looked like — I didn't feel like there was anybody anywhere in Southern California that was having a better time than Brian… That shit-eating grin he had on his face. It was so great. What a wonderful moment."

Earlier in the month, Lars lavished praise on METALLICA's fellow Power Trip headliners and credited three of them as being a pivotal influence on his legendary metal band.

"We love all five of the other bands," Lars enthused. "I saw AC/DC back in Copenhagen in 1977 for the first time; we did a whole tour with them in Europe in 1991. I fell in love with GUNS N' ROSES five seconds after I heard 'Mr. Brownstone' for the first time on KNAC before the 1987 debut album came out. We played shows with IRON MAIDEN in the '80s. We played shows with JUDAS PRIEST. We played shows with TOOL all over the place.'

He added: "Obviously, AC/DC, IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST were huge influences. Those three bands are a significant part of the reason that we wanted to be in a band. So to get everybody together in the same space is a bit awe-inspiring."

Back in 2017, Ulrich named AC/DC's "Let There Be Rock" as one of his favorite metal and hard rock albums, telling Rolling Stone: "This is AC/DC's heaviest record, AC/DC's densest record, AC/DC's most energetic record. Four or five of the songs are just staple AC/DC live, between 'Let There Be Rock', 'Bad Boy Boogie', 'Whole Lotta Rosie' and 'Hell Ain't a Bad Place To Be'. I don't even want to try to comprehend how many times these songs have been played live.

"Obviously, this is before AC/DC hooked up with [producer] Mutt Lange on the 'Highway To Hell' album and started crafting to perfection the idea of the three-to-four-minute rock song as a radio hit. Here, it was the perfect balance of two guitars: just endless guitar solos and the riffs and Angus and Malcolm [Young] playing. A lot of the songs would start with one guy playing a riff, the other guy playing open chords. Then, after 16 bars or 32 bars or whatever, both guitars would lock in on the same riff. Then Bon [Scott] would come in with these cheeky, great, almost cartoon-like lyrics about women and bad behavior and illicit experiences. It's one of those albums where it sounds like you're sitting in the studio with them. At the beginning of the songs, you can hear the amplifiers buzzing, and there's, like, count-ins and you can hear the talking in the studio, and all that kind of stuff. This is raw, blues-based hard rock at its absolute peak.

"And there's one song on here which may potentially be my favorite AC/DC deep cut, which is 'Overdose'. On that song, when the two guitars lock in, it's just the fucking heaviest thing ever. To my knowledge, they have never performed it live. I think for a lot of AC/DC fanatics and purists like myself, it's at the very top of the left-out songs. I've never gotten far enough to ask Angus why they haven't played it. [Laughs]"

AC/DC's performance at Power Trip marked the first time the band opened its set with "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)". The concert also included live debuts for two tracks from 2020's "Power Up" album, "Demon Fire" and "Shot In The Dark".

AC/DC recruited drummer Matt Laug to perform with the band at Power Trip.

In its announcement about Laug's addition to the band's Power Trip lineup, AC/DC offered no explanation for the absence of the band's longtime drummer Phil Rudd, who rejoined AC/DC for the recording of the group's comeback album, "Power Up", which came out in November 2020.

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