How the Hell Is Metallica Going to Perform With a Classical Pianist at the Grammys?

Categories: Metal, The Grammys

METALLICA_IMG_GGP_2_James.jpg
Can you imagine a classical piano on this stage?
Metallica can't do anything normally anymore. The band put out a concert film that was also a sci-fi doom story -- whose soundtrack has been nominated for a Grammy. It played a goddamn headphone concert in Antarctica. And now, Metallica is playing at the Grammy Awards ceremony for the first time in 23 years -- but apparently not as the Metallica we know.

Metallica is performing at the Grammys with Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang. And not to pooh-pooh the thing at all, but we just cannot figure out how "Metallica" -- which means pummeling, titanic riffs -- and "classical pianist" -- which means dynamic agility and tonal subtlety -- will go together. And we aren't alone. Over at the NYT, Allan Kozinn said the performance "promises to be either an inspired pairing or a train wreck in the making."

The Recording Academy released no further information when it announced the performance this morning, so all we can really do is guess what's going to happen. Granted, Metallica has done lots of unusual pairings before: There were the concerts and the subsequent live album with the S.F. Symphony back in 1999. But that was with a huge, thundering symphony orchestra, not a sole classical pianist. There were a number of surprisingly subdued covers on the first disc of Garage, Inc., including a back-porch jam with Blues Traveler's Jon Popper. But that was a blues jam. Of course, there was the Lou Reed (R.I.P.) collabo Lulu, which famously met with outrage and mockery, but actually had its moments. And there have been acoustic sets at Bridge School over the years. But incorporating classical piano into the Metallica assault? How?

Word is that Metallica is kinda-sorta working on a new studio album, so perhaps the Grammys set will be a chance for a major relaunch -- the announcement of a new phrase in the band's career that will somehow include room for an instrument they've never really used before. More likely, however, is that it'll be a one-off stunt like Lang Lang's performance with jazz pianist Herbie Hancock in 2009. We can't imagine how there will be room in classical piano for Metallica, or vice versa -- but we sure are curious to find out on Jan. 26.

-- @iPORT



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19 comments
Sid Madrid
Sid Madrid

And then James will do a solo on the smug-o-phone....

Mario Mars Melara
Mario Mars Melara

They've done it before.... With an entire Symphony. The San Francisco Symphony. The Symphony from SF, you know, the city you write about.

Christopher Michael Neill
Christopher Michael Neill

Christ, they've been playing with a classical guitarist the whole time. Have you even heard "...And Justice For All"? I'm surprised the whole thing isn't recorded with lutes and harpsichord.

Nicole Maron
Nicole Maron

The article title asks "how". The more pertinent question is "why".

Heather Dale
Heather Dale

the are experience and talented musicians...just because the music isn't good anymore, doesn't mean they can't continue to branch out...and didn't the play with the SF Symphony awhile ago?

Kristin Griffis
Kristin Griffis

Well, they did perform with the San Francisco Symphony so it shouldn't be too difficult.... ;)

jezcab1
jezcab1

Ian clearly doesn't know anything about Metallica. Plus Apocalyptica rules!

Jeremy Baker
Jeremy Baker

the S&M concert/album was pretty damn good. kids these days dont even remember!

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