For many artists, 2021 marked their first time performing in several years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though legacy acts such as Metallica have been playing live shows for several decades, Lars Ulrich admitted that they were "definitely nervous" to play their first real concert again.

The drummer described getting onstage in front of an actual audience again as "very emotional on every level" during an episode of Eddie Trunk's Trunk Nation [via Blabbermouth]. "Obviously, it's invigorating and it's inspiring and it's just great to get back out there."

Last month, Metallica played a surprise concert at a venue called The Independent in San Francisco, Calif., followed by another at the Metro in Chicago, Ill. Their most recent performances were two headlining sets at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kent.

Prior to this handful of shows, Metallica had only played virtual concerts, televised performances and drive-in shows ever since the COVID-19 virus shut everything down in March of 2020. Their last proper concerts in front of an audience were their S&M2 shows in September of 2019. Ulrich believes that's the longest break they've had from playing onstage in Metallica's entire career.

"When we stepped onstage at The Independent in San Francisco about two weeks ago now, [we were] definitely nervous," he confessed. "[It was] a little daunting. 'How do we do this again? We hope the muscle memory will come back.' And, obviously, we'd been rehearsing and prepping and staying in shape, but you never know."

The drummer reflected on all of their 2021 performances fondly, though, especially their Louder Than Life sets because they didn't play any songs twice. He also assured that his muscle memory did come back — but more so during the large shows than the smaller ones.

"But I was so happy to be back out there, so grateful to feel the energy of the fans and their patience through all this shitstorm of the last year and a half with COVID, and so happy to reconnect with the fellows and my brothers in the band and play music and share that experience once again with a live audience and being in the moment and just feeling it," he explained.

"I would say that all is very well in Metallica in the fall of '21, but, fuck, I hope for the rest of our career that there's not another two-year absence from the live stage."

Metallica's next gig is California's Aftershock festival, which will see the group headline two nights again this weekend on Friday, Oct. 8 and Sunday Oct. 10. Check out the rest of their upcoming dates here.

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