"We are here to play. We don't let our friends down": Watch pro-shot 4K footage of the night Joey Jordison saved Metallica when Lars Ulrich went AWOL

Joey Jordison onstage with Metallica
(Image credit: Scuzz TV)

It's one of the most famous Metallica shows of them all: the night Lars Ulrich was a no-show

To recap: Metallica were scheduled to headline the UK's Download on Sunday June 6, 2004, having flown in to top a bill that also featured Korn, Slipknot, Slayer, Machine Head, Soulfly, Ill Nino, Turbonegro and Breed 77. Only problem? Lars had experienced a panic attack on his flight in from Copenhagen. 

"I was exhausted," he said later. "It was pretty fucking scary to be in a little fucking metal tube at 41,000 feet. I’ve never had anxiety attacks, or any kind of stress attacks, ever." 

After an hour's delay, the rest of the band – James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujilo – assembled onstage to tell the crowd what had happened.

"Hello Donington... or Download, whichever you prefer, it's great to see you all," said Hetfield. "You having a good time? Well, we're sorry we're late coming out here, but we've got a good reason. On the way here the four of us were all healthy [but] one of us didn't quite make it here.

"Lars has gone to the hospital, nothing serious we hope. Some sort of medical condition. But we are here to play. We don't let our friends down. We've got some buddies from the other bands that have played here today that have kicked maximum ass, and they've offered their services to come and play, so this is going to be an extra special Download for us, and hopefully you. So are you with us?"

The crowd, it turns out, were very much with Metallica. As were Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison and Slayer sticksman Dave Lombardo, who'd already played with their own bands, and Ulrch's drum tech Flemming Larsen. Lombardo played on the opening tracks, Battery and The Four Horsemen, while Larsen filled in on Fade to Black, but the bulk of the heavy lifting was carried out by Jordison – still wearing his Slipknot mask – who played on the eight remaining songs.   

The action was captured by cable channel Scuzz TV, which had launched in March 2003 with a remit to target the MTV2 audience "with a diet of Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters." Some of Scuzz's footage has just resurfaced on YouTube in upscaled 4K resolution, and it features edited highlights from the show: some clips of excited fans, the band's walk-on and that introduction, plus footage of three Jordison-backed bangers: For Whom The Bell Tolls, Wherever I May Roam and Enter Sandman.

"At the end of the set, I turned to Joey onstage, and I asked him if he could play Enter Sandman," Kirk Hammett told The Guardian in 2023. "And I saw through his mask that he had tears in both of his eyes. He was crying because it meant so much for him to be playing Sandman with us at Download. I’ll never forget that."

Two nights later, at the Südweststadion in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany, Lars Ulrich was back behind the kit. He hasn't missed a show since.  

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.