Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich have spoken in-depth about Cliff Burton’s last show with Metallica before his untimely death.
Promoting their expansive box set reissue of ‘Master of Puppets’, which is out today, the guitarist and drummer were asked by Rolling Stone if it was emotional listening back to Cliff’s last ever gig at Solnahallen in Stockholm, Sweden on 26th September 1986 - one day before the bassist's death.
A fan recording of the show features in the box set on cassette format, which also includes a digital download card.
Lars said of the gig: “Obviously, we're 31 years past (the show taking place). So you pause, you reflect, you think, you appreciate, you're humbled. I move so fast through a lot of the stuff that I never slow down long enough to reflect.
“And occasionally, when you sit with some of the stuff at 2 o'clock in the morning, you go, ‘Wow.’ When you sit there and listen to the last two songs or look at the pictures from the last show with him, it stops you in your tracks as you deal with it.”
Cliff, Kirk, Lars and James in 1986 © Getty Images
Asked what they specifically remember about the show, Lars responded: “We'd finished playing all the Odeons in England, which are these old, 3,000-seat movie theatres and we got to Scandinavia where they were more like ice-hockey holes – smaller, colder, darker. It was a different vibe.
“We played the show in Stockholm, and it went incredibly well. I think it may have been a rare case where we actually played an additional song that wasn't on the set list, because the show was so good. That's not something we did a lot then or now. So, there was a good vibe.”
Kirk added: “It was significant because it was the first show where James played guitar again (James had broken his wrist in a skateboarding accident several months previous).
“He strapped on a guitar and was able to play the encore; I think it was "Blitzkrieg" or something. But I remember the five of us, including John Marshall (Kirk’s guitar tech and stand-in for James), being really stoked James was back and playing and looking like was gonna make a pretty healthy recovery.
“I distinctly remember that show being good, and the feeling when we got offstage was really great and positive and forward-looking. Like, ‘Great, James is back in and it won't be long 'til we're back to our old selves again.’
“It was that kind of mood after the show and then the accident happened and it literally felt like we were going from a hopeful sort of circumstance to one where we found ourselves in into a deep, black pit.”
Cliff and James in 1984 © Getty Images
Lars continued: “We did a lot of press that day, and we did a photo shoot for a Swedish magazine called OK, which was almost like a teenybopper magazine. We were sitting on the bus afterwards, talking about how cool it was, and Cliff and I were hanging out, having a beer. It's a little fuzzy now but it was a good day.”
“I remember right when we were about to leave in the bus, the fans started running towards us,” says Kirk. “Cliff said, ‘Look at them. They look like zombies!’ He was way into zombies. We were all just kind of laughing. Then we started playing cards. And we had a long, long drive. And everyone knows the rest of it.”
You can watch fan-filmed footage of Metallica performing ‘Master of Puppets’ at Roskilde Festival in July 2016 below, which also features in the box set.