Metallica raise the roof at SXSW

The veteran rockers make a 'surprise' appearance at Texas festival

James Hetfield from Metallica onstage at London's O2 Arena on Monday (September 15). Performing a vastly different set to their recent Reading And Leeds Festivals headline slots, Metallica performed a set heavy with songs from 'Death Magnetic', which went straight to the top of the UK album charts on Sunday (September 14). Pic: Danny North
Metallica pulled out all the stops during their spectacular set at Austin's South by Southwest Festival tonight (March 20).

The veteran rockers played several crowd-pleasers including 'Cyanide', 'One' and 'Breadfan' during their 90-minute set, that concluded with the audience cheering deafeningly loudly for two encores.

Shortly after the band took the stage, frontman James Hetfield shouted "Surprise!", sarcastically referring to the not-so-well-kept secret that the band would be performing at the 'Guitar Hero: Metallica' party, celebrating the launch of their version of the popular video game next week.

"This is the best kept secret in rock and roll," he quipped. "We thought we'd come join you for your party."

The band were in top form, running effortlessly through epic tracks such as the 11-minute version of 'Master Of Puppets', which caused several audience members to engage in a moshing frenzy.

Members of Jane's Addiction, The Duke Spirit and Silversun Pickups looked on as the Los Angeles band delivered an incredible performance.

"We're glad to be here and be a part of the vibe," Hetfield said. "Ever since we were in high school we've been robots playing live music."

After the band wrapped up their set, the audience cheered and applauded loudly for several minutes until the band returned for an encore. When they concluded, the crowd continued cheering until the band gave in and performed another song.

"Old stuff or new stuff?" Hetfield asked the audience. When most of the crowd shouted "Old stuff!", the band complied and launched into 'Seek And Destroy' from their 1983 debut album. They finished the evening by taking a group bow and tossing guitar picks and drum sticks into the audience.

Metallica played:

'Creeping Death'
'For Whom The Bell Tolls'
'Harvester Of Sorrow'
'Sad But True'
'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)'
'Master Of Puppets'
'Seek And Destroy'

Keep checking NME.COM's South By Southwest index page for all the latest SXSW action including news reports, photo galleries and behind-the-scenes blogs.

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