Watch the time Metallica replaced Lars Ulrich with a 13 year old

James Hetfield on stage earlier this year, plus the lucky young fan who played with Metallica in 2019
(Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images + YouTube)

We’ve all heard the jokes about Lars Ulrich not being a very good drummer, but whether or not those jabs actually hold water is open for debate. No one would argue he’s a Gene Hoglan-level master technician but, for every time we’ve seen him butcher a bit of Am I Evil?, we’ve also experienced him plough through Battery and Fight Fire With Fire no sweat.

Nonetheless, the gags are out there, and three years ago, they wrote themselves when Metallica replaced their co-founding Dane for one song – with a 13-year-old fan. You may scoff, but it actually made for one of the most wholesome moments in recent heavy metal history.

Here’s what went down. On June 11, 2019, Metallica were on their WorldWired Tour, promoting 2016’s Hardwired… To Self-Destruct, and descended upon the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Before the closing song of their main set, it was business as usual, as the Four Horsemen ripped through classics – Master Of Puppets, The Unforgiven, One – and a couple oddballs like No Leaf Clover and St Anger alike. However, to finish up, they gave Lars a few minutes off, plucking from the crowd a fan called Evan, who that day turned 13. Metallica gave him one hell of a birthday present.

In the clip, visible below, Evan’s already assumed his spot behind the kit, while James Hetfield’s working up his 55,000-person crowd. “What song do you wanna hear?!” he teases, before glancing over to his teenage temporary bandmate. “Oh God, Lars shrunk!” he quips. “Alright, Dyers Eve, you ready?” he teases even further, namedropping the most technical track in the ’Tallica catalogue to his young guest.

In actuality, the four break into Kill ’Em All favourite Seek & Destroy. And Evan nails it. Even with the biggest band in metal crowding around him, he’s a steady, reliable anchor, keeping pace perfectly.

The next day, Metallica posted the footage onto Instagram, and an ecstatic Evan commented: “OMG GUYS THIS MEANS THE ABSOLUTE WORLD TO ME I LEFT SCHOOL OPENED UP INSTA AND JUST CRIED MY EYES OUT THANK YOU SO SO MUCH”

D’aww. Of course, the clip quickly went viral on YouTube, amassing nearly 200,000 views. To the chagrin of some, Evan never did join the band full-time, but we wouldn’t bet against him becoming a superstar in his own right if he stays behind the kit.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.