The “Big Four” bands of 1980s thrash metal — METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX — played the fourth show of their European tour earlier tonight (Friday, July 8 ) at the U.K. installment of the Sonisphere festival at Knebworth House.

The highly anticipated onstage performance of the “Big Four” bands at the same time happened near the end of METALLICA’s set, between “Enter Sandman” and “Battery”. Members of ANTHRAX, SLAYER and MEGADETH joined METALLICA on stage for a cover of DIAMOND HEAD’s “Am I Evil?” before METALLICA ended the night with “Creeping Death”. Also taking part in the jam were members of the legendary NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) band DIAMOND HEAD, who played on the same stage earlier in the night.

METALLICA frontman James Hetfield asked the audience, “Is there another band playing or something? What’s all this extra gear? It’s ‘The Big Four Band’, does that sound like a good idea? Celebrating 30 years of METALLICA, we invite SLAYER, ANTHRAX, MEGADETH and hopefully someone from DIAMOND HEAD to put the cherry on top.”

“You see that guy, if it wasn’t for Brian Tatler, there’s a pretty good chance none of us would be here tonight,” METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich added while pointing at the DIAMOND HEAD guitarist, before the musicians launched into a version of “Am I Evil?”

METALLICA’s setlist was as follows:

01. Hit the Lights
02. Master of Puppets
03. The Shortest Straw
04. Seek & Destroy
05. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
06. Ride the Lightning
07. The Memory Remains
08. All Nightmare Long
09. Sad But True
10. The Call of Ktulu
11. One
12. For Whom the Bell Tolls
13. Blackened
14. Fade to Black
15. Enter Sandman


17. Battery
18. Creeping Death

In a recent interview with LA Weekly, Ulrich was asked why DIAMOND HEAD’s “Am I Evil?” was chosen as the song to be performed during last year’s first “Big Four” jam in Sofia, Bulgaria. “I can’t tell you a cosmic reason,” he replied. “We felt that you’re not going to invite people to come onstage and start playing a METALLICA song. That would seem a little selfish, so you want to find a cover song that had some resonance towards what’s going on. Everybody’s got different influences, different inspirations, but certainly the band DIAMOND HEAD has a lot to answer for when it comes to four bands playing out the desert in 2011 in terms of lineage. They’re probably one of the biggest reasons that we exist. When [Dave] Mustaine was in METALLICA, he was very inspired by them. I know DIAMOND HEAD may not have the same relevance for the boys in SLAYER, but you’ve got to find a happy medium at some point. We’ve got another half-dozen shows this summer. I would like to be a little more adventurous and not rely on the same song if there are continued jams. There are other things we can do, and I know that Tom [Araya] from SLAYER was talking about [METALLICA’s] ‘The Four Horsemen’. Inviting the other bands to come up and play a METALLICA song just doesn’t seem right.”

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