'Mystery Band' Metallica Play Blind Date

Some fans figured out hard rockers were going to be at West Hollywood, Calif.'s House of Blues.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.

COLOR="#003163">Metallica may be headlining one of the summer's biggest stadium tours, but they proved they can rock a small stage just as hard at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

The veteran San Francisco Bay Area metal group turned up as the "mystery band" for Miller Genuine Draft's Blind Date, a series of concerts in which the performers' identities are, in theory, kept secret until they hit the stage. The show's audience is made up of contest winners flown in from around the country.

"You didn't think it was gonna be Tom Jones, did you?" singer/guitarist James Hetfield asked the crowd midway through the band's powerful 90-minute performance. But just how many of the 1,000 attendees were actually surprised to see Metallica take the stage is questionable.

"We figured it out, just based on who's touring and who's in town, and Miller telling us it was a big rock band," 24-year-old Jackie Schultz of Seattle said. But not being surprised didn't ruin the fun, she said. "It's great to see them in a really small environment like this — and everyone's really into it."

The bulk of the crowd behaved like Metallica die-hards, with many pumping their fists to the music and singing along with Hetfield. Metallica had played for a crowd of 65,000 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum three nights before, as the headliners of the Summer Sanitarium tour also featuring Korn and

Kid Rock. But they weren't any less eager to please on Tuesday, tearing through

such staples as "Enter Sandman" (RealAudio excerpt), as well newer songs such as "No Leaf Clover" (

HREF="http://media.addict.com/music/Metallica/No_Leaf_Clover_Live.ram">RealAudio excerpt).

Following a three-song encore, the band spent a few moments bidding the crowd farewell but finally relented to the fervent requests for one more song. Returning to their instruments, they capped off the night with a rendition of "Die, Die My Darling," off 1998's Garage, Inc.

"Thanks to Miller for helping pay the rent this month," drummer Lars Ulrich said. "Who says it's the House of Blues? It's the House of Metal!"

Other bands who have played Blind Dates include

COLOR="#003163">Limp Bizkit, Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins.