“I smell barbecue!” shouted James Hetfield, which was met with the hoots and cheers of thousands of Texans during the first weekend of Austin City Limits festival. Metallica hit the ground running on Saturday night — just a few minutes’ shy of their 8 p.m. start time.
Opening with the earsplitting combo of 2016 songs “Hardwired” and “Atlas, Rise!”, the metal gods sated their most devout fans with a setlist heavy with 1980s cuts, most prominently from 1984’s Ride the Lightning and 1986’s Master of Puppets. There were many tributes to be made; first, Robert Trujillo cranked out the searing bass solo from 1983’s “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth),” authored by the band’s first bassist, the deceased Cliff Burton.
But the best of all was the essential Texan fare: “Now for a Stevie Ray Vaughan deep cut!” announced Trujillo — perhaps ironically, perhaps not — indulging Kirk Hammett in a goofy blues rock doodle to “Telephone Song.” Hetfield shared his own sinister Vincent Price cackles well throughout the night — and the field cackled right back. “I love you too,” intimated Hetfield tenderly to his fans. “How about that for heavy metal?” After 37 years of fuel and fire, it’s hard to believe Metallica will be dimming down their flame anytime soon.