Last Friday (August 4), Metallica kicked off their 2023 US tour at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, and it’s fair to say the new tour nerves got the better of Kirk Hammett, who was filmed fumbling the introduction to Nothing Else Matters.
Of course, pro electric guitar stars are just as susceptible to the odd slip-up as casual players – it just so happens that such slip-ups are usually witnessed on stage by thousands of concert attendees.
Whether the presence of such scrutiny on the first night of tour was what hampered Hammett on this occasion is unclear, but the Metallica guitarist – ever the professional – was not going to let his fans experience anything less than perfection.
To that end, the song was stopped mid-riff by the Gibson and ESP signature artist, who told the audience that his first attempt was simply “not good enough”.
“Okay, it's the first show... I'm gonna do this intro all over for you guys again,” Hammett said after tripping up over a handful of bum notes. “It's just not good enough for myself, and if it's not good enough for myself, it's not good enough for you!”
The second attempt proved far more successful than the first, and before long the band were well on their way.
It’s not the first time Hammett and the Nothing Else Matters intro have been at odds with each other, either: he also botched the open-string intro riff at a show last year.
That time out, Hammett didn’t have the “first show of tour” safety net to fall back on, so instead took the comedic route out by collapsing on stage and blaming the crowd for being too “kickass”.
Hammett’s guitar playing has been placed under the microscope in recent months, and it’s not because of his inconsequential Nothing Else Matters gaffes. Instead, Hammett received grief earlier this year because of his Lux Æterna guitar solo.
Numerous online commenters have taken aim at the lead effort from 72 Seasons’ lead single since its release last year. While some YouTubers recorded their own ‘improved versions’, others said it was Kirk’s “worst solo”. One YouTube video was even titled “Why everyone HATES the solo in Metallica’s new song”.
In defense of his solo, Hammett shot down the notion that his solo was “bad” because it was easy to play, and ridiculed the idea of playing with style over substance.
“I was just laughing the whole time,” he said while discussing the criticism with Total Guitar. “I could string together like six or seven three-octave arpeggios in 16th notes, sit there every day and practice it and go, ‘Hey, look what I can do!’ but where am I gonna put it? That won’t work in any Metallica song!
“Arpeggios? Come on! In a guitar solo, mapped out like a lot of people do, four or five chords with a different arpeggio over each one? It sounds like an exercise. I don’t want to listen to exercises and warm-ups every time I hear a song.”