After a show in Lisbon, Portugal on Friday, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich fell ill with undisclosed symptoms, according to a spokesperson for the band. While his bandmates flew to England for their Sunday performance at the Download 2004 festival, Ulrich stopped off in Germany for treatment.
Illness has never sidelined Metallica for long, and with Ulrich hundreds of miles away, the band made plans to perform at the Download festival with fill-ins. They rehearsed for a few hours with drummers from other bands on the bill, and went onstage (an hour late) to the thrash-metal beats of Slayer's Dave Lombardo, who filled in on "Battery" and "The Four Horsemen."
Slipknot's Joey Jordison stepped in next and played on "For Whom the Bell Tolls," "Creeping Death" and "Seek and Destroy." Ulrich's drum tech, Flemming Larsen, sat in for "Fade to Black," then the masked Jordison rejoined for the last five songs of the set.
"It was an honor last night to play for a band I've looked up to for so long," Jordison said. "[Before this,] I could not imagine getting into the seat of one of my heroes. It was one of the best experiences of my life."
It wasn't the first time Metallica have recruited members of their opening acts (or their support staff) to fill in. During the Summer Sanitarium Tour in 2000, frontman James Hetfield suffered a slipped disc, so for shows in Atlanta and Kentucky, Korn's Jonathan Davis, System of a Down's Serj Tankian and Kid Rock all stepped up to the plate to sing. And guitar tech John Marshall (also of the band Metal Church) filled in on six-string for an injured Hetfield on two separate tours.
At press time, the band's management had not disclosed the nature of Ulrich's illness or when he will return to active duty, although they did report that he hopes to rejoin the tour — the European leg of which resumes on June 8 and carries through July 4 in Iceland — as soon as possible. Slipknot are the opening act for many of the shows.
Metallica will release an EP entitled Some Kind of Monster on July 9, which is also the name of the recent documentary film about the band (see "Metallica Feed 'Monster' To Film Fests, Add More Anger To Tour" ). The eight-song disc will consist of two versions of the title track, along with live renditions of "The Four Horsemen," "Damage, Inc.," "Leper Messiah," "Motorbreath," "Ride the Lightning" and "Hit the Lights," recorded in Paris on June 11, 2003.