When it was announced earlier this month, the oddball pairing of pianist Lang Lang and the band Metallica for the 2014 Grammy Awards produced snickers and arched eyebrows among classical music and heavy metal fans alike.
But musicians who seemed to have nothing in common on the surface proved that they were in fact a good, or at least interesting, fit in their rendition of the band’s “One,” which they performed live on stage at Staples Center on Sunday.
Lang Lang, a pianist who cultivates an aggressive showmanship and a rather rock-like cult of personality, wore a shimmering light blue blazer as he played backup piano to Metallica frontman James Hetfield. The staging was heavy with dark, smoky atmospherics, war imagery projected in the background and the occasional pyrotechnic explosion.
The performance marked Metallica’s first performance at the Grammys in more than 20 years. The band was nominated this year for “Metallica Through the Never (Music from the Motion Picture),” but didn’t win. Lang Lang previously teamed up with jazz musician Herbie Hancock at the 2008 Grammy ceremony.
“One” was released by Metallica in 1989 as part of the album "... And Justice for All.”
On Twitter, Metallica wrote: “So what’d ya think?!?! Thanks for jammin’ with us @lang_lang!!!”
Video of the Lang Lang/Metallica performance has been uploaded to YouTube and can be viewed here.