Metallica made the surprise announcement yesterday that they will be releasing a new record, 72 Seasons, on April 14th of 2023, dropping first single “Lux Æterna” to the surprise of fans who weren’t expecting a Metallica single that sounds so much like Hit The Lights, the thrash classic that opened their debut album Kill Em All almost 40 years ago.
In the same announcement came the details of their 2023/2024 “M72 World Tour“, which will see the band play two nights (typically Friday and Sunday) at stadiums around the world, bringing their “No Repeat Weekend” show – where they play entirely different sets on each night — from their recent festival appearances to their headlining crowds around the world.
However, this idea of playing only weekend shows goes all the way back to when the band were recording 2003’s “St. Anger“, the sessions for which were immortalized in the movie “Some Kind of Monster“.
The recording of the record came at a tumultuous time for the band as long-time bassist Jason Newstead quit, and in an effort to keep the band from dissolving entirely, Q Prime (their management company) advised them to get into heavy group therapy sessions with “performance enhancement coach” Phil Towle, who had previously worked with “big money, big ego” clients such as the St Louis Rams and Rage Against The Machine.
Shortly after the band started recording the record, frontman James Hetfield entered a rehabilitation facility for “alcoholism and other addictions“, putting the band’s future in jeopardy.
After Hetfield rejoined the band in the studio, and as the recording of the record hit its stride, the band had a meeting with Q Prime (captured in the documentary, around 1:33 if you want to check it out) where they discussed what touring for the record would look like.
Hetfield had mentioned that being on the road was where he faced the most temptation, so he didn’t know what touring would look like.
It was at that point, sometime in 2002, that Cliff Bernstein from Q Prime floated the idea of weekend-only shows, something the band is now planning on enacting in 2023 and 2024, some 20 years later.
“I think what I’d like to do is, I‘d like to talk about this touring thing that has come up. We’re very cognizant of the fact that things have changed for you guys. And they’ve changed for many, many reasons.”
“Why can’t we figure out what works best for everybody in their personal lives, plus what works best as a business?”
“What if you just do a stadium tour, where you play Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and then you go home the rest of the week?“
At the time, the band did cut back on touring a little – 2004 saw them play 118 shows – which typically happened in stints of a week or two, followed by a week or two off.
Much later, in 2019, Metallica canceled the Australian/New Zealand leg of their three-and-a-half-year “World Wired” tour due to Hetfield reentering rehab. The first major leg of the tour started with stadiums in the US in the summer of 2017, with no two shows back to back, typically less than 10 shows per month.
However, by the time the band was on the 13th leg, playing large stadiums, arenas, and even a castle here and there across Europe and Ireland, Hetfield was showing signs of fatigue.
In fact, in the S&M2 Tuning Room video from September of 2019 – days before Hetfield went back to rehab – the band can clearly be seen rallying their visibly struggling frontman and friend, with one fan commenting:
“Can’t believe James managed to pull this off. Kirk just trying his best to encourage him and stay positive, while he can see his friend is in pain. Kirk is ever the unsung hero of this band.”
Another fan said:
“Poor James, he looks like he’s really struggling, I can’t believe he was able to put on one of the best shows ever that night. My first night in rehab I laid in bed and listened to Outlaw torn all night, cried like a baby. Metallica has gotten me through some good times and some bad.”
Coming out of rehab the second time, the band played sporadic shows over the next few years – mainly headliners at festivals where they would go back to that suggestion from 2002, where they would play only weekends “and then go home the rest of the week”.
Now with the announcement of the “M72 World Tour“, the band appears to finally be following Cliff Bernstein’s suggestion, most likely to keep riff lord Hetfield at an even keel on the road while the band still gives the fans what they want — one of the best live bands in the game.