“We thought it would be clever to open the show with an instrumental but it sits much better in the middle”: Rob Trujillo on the setlist tweaks Metallica made as they embarked on the M72 World Tour

Metallica live in Detroit, November 2023
(Image credit: Scott Legato/Getty Images)

2023 was nothing short of a triumph for Metallica, who released a critically-acclaimed 11th album in 72 Seasons and embarked on one of their most daring and brilliant tours to date. The idea behind the metal giants’ M72 World Tour: No Repeat Weekend – as you’ll know because you were probably there – is that the metal giants rocked up at a city for two nights and played two different sets, a complete hard rock annihilation double-whammy.

Speaking to this writer as part of Classic Rock’s end of year round-up recently, bassist Rob Trujillo revealed that even hardened vets like Metallica need a bit of time to get their road legs, though. Trujillo explained that the quartet were a few gigs in when they realised the show openers weren't quite hitting in the way they imagined.Initially, we thought it would be really clever and exciting to open the show with an instrumental, like The Call Of Ktulu or Orion,” said Trujillo. “We found that an instrumental is very powerful for the set but it sits much better in the middle of a set, it’s a chance for the fan to absorb and embrace the song. Rather than just coming out throwing a curveball at them, we would rather come out with a Whiplash or a Creeping Death, something that kind of smacks you in the face. We’re trying to tailor the set in a way that there’s a sense of dynamics, and a kind of a journey into what we do in our music.”

Asked to pick his favourite song to play live this year, the bassist opted for a selection of picks. “I’ve actually enjoyed playing the new songs. I like playing songs like Shadows Follow, You Must Burn! is always nice, because it’s a power groove and we get to team up on some vocals there, same thing with Shadows Follow. Those two off the new record are fun to play,” he stated, before returning to the instrumentals that had been shifted from the start. “The Call Of Ktulu is fun for any bass player, there’s a lot of melodic statements within that composition that I like,” offered Trujillo. “It keeps you on your toes and it’s nice, because usually we always come together and meet on stage at a certain point and celebrate the outro riff, a song like Orion, we really enjoy coming together. What happens is you just instinctually find your place during certain songs where you come together, and you’re just having that moment where your head banging together, sharing the spotlight together. That’s always nice.”

Metallica will have a chance to hone the setlist further in 2024 – the M72 World Tour will pick up the thread in May, kicking off in Munich.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.