Energized heavyweights Metallica begin world tour

Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:54am EDT
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By Gelu Sulugiuc

PHOENIX, Arizona (Reuters) - Minutes before his band hits the stage to play the first show of a world tour to promote its first album in five years, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has more important things on his mind.

The rock band's co-founder and creative force is rushing backstage to meet some three dozen members of the band's fan club for a traditional "meet and greet," and he also manages to find time for a busy schedule of media interviews.

"The (Led) Zeppelin mystique and that KISS thing about who are these larger-than-life comic book characters didn't interest me," Ulrich told Reuters on Tuesday, as nearly 20,000 fans at the Jobing.com hockey arena waited impatiently for their heroes.

"We've always prided ourselves on and enjoyed being accessible. It's amazing that after 30 years anybody is still interested in what we have to say," said the 44-year-old Danish native, who is never short of an opinion.

Metallica have sold 100 million records in that time, and seem assured of a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when the latest crop of inductees are announced early next year.

Their latest album, "Death Magnetic," went to No. 1 in more than two dozen countries, and enjoyed a three-week stint at the top in the United States. It was a welcome return to form for the band, following the commercial and critical disappointment of 2003's "St. Anger."

Known for their work ethic and explosive live shows, Metallica have tried to indulge the hardcore fans who followed them long before the foursome achieved mainstream success with their self-titled 1991 album and hit single "Enter Sandman."

To warm up for their tour, which will hit 37 arenas in North America through February 1 before heading to Europe, they invited fans and friends to attend two rehearsals in their adopted San Francisco hometown and Phoenix.   Continued...

<p>Lead vocalist James Hetfield of the heavy metal band Metallica performs during their record release party of their new album "Death Magnetic" in Berlin September 12, 2008. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke</p>