The inaugural Power Trip festival sold itself as a historic gathering of rock’s biggest names, with all six acts given equal billing as headliners.

In reality, Metallica had five famous openers.

It’s not that any of this weekend’s artists were slouches. It’s just that Metallica so thoroughly dominated during their hit-filled Sunday performance that they left no doubt who the reigning titans of heavy metal are.

You can see the full set list and photos from the performance below.

Metallica Boiled Down Their 'No Repeat Weekend' Into One Greatest-Hits Set

Metallica roared out of the gate with the breathless one-two punch of “Whiplash” and “Creeping Death.” Both songs have been featured as openers on the band’s ongoing M72 World Tour, which finds them playing two completely different sets in each city as part of their “No Repeat Weekend.” At Power Trip, Metallica boiled down their rotating set lists into one all-killer, no-filler thrill ride of hits.

There are plenty of valid criticisms to be levied against artists who rely on greatest-hits sets, but Power Trip was neither the time nor place for them. Metallica was tasked with closing a power-packed, physically exhausting weekend on a high note, and they delivered in spades. If anything, it was shocking — but not unwelcome — to hear the band’s biggest song, “Enter Sandman,” played fourth in the set, making room for “Master of Puppets” to close the show.

READ MORE: Metallica, '72 Seasons': Album Review

Superstardom has not always come easy to Metallica, particularly frontman James Hetfield, but they easily stepped into their rock-god role on Sunday while still maintaining their humanity. “Sorry, guys, I screwed it up,” Kirk Hammett quipped when he flubbed the intro to “Nothing Else Matters,” prompting the band to restart. “You know it’s really hot in this fucking desert!”

Metallica Is Older and Wiser, but Still Youthful 

Metallica also had the benefit of (relative) youth as one of the younger bands at Power Trip, and their full-speed-or-nothing approach remains virtually undiluted. The band raced across the stage like teenagers at their first gig, playing off of each other and showboating for the ecstatic audience. They’re not a technically flawless band — here’s looking at you, Lars Ulrich haters — but they still play with infectious enthusiasm, undeniable chemistry, and youthful, punkish vigor.

That said, Metallica is older and wiser now, and they don’t shy away from sincerity or vulnerability. After playing “Fade to Black,” Hetfield explained that they wrote the song about suicide and acknowledged those who have died from it. “I don’t know how dark their lives get, but I do know they are missed, and I wish it didn’t happen,” he said. “So if you’re feeling the darkness, talk to your friends, please. Please do it. We need you here. We love you, Metallica family.”

READ MORE: The Best Metallica Song From Every Decade

Hetfield also enthused that he “got to see [his] heroes this weekend,” having watched AC/DC from the pit with his bandmates. Although both bands have long been equals, Hetfield sounded genuinely humble as he reflected on Metallica’s career.

“After 42 years of playing music, we don’t take it for granted,” he said. “We love what we do. We get to do this. This is our purpose.”

Thankfully, the end seems nowhere in sight for Metallica.

Metallica, 10/8/23, Power Trip, Indio, Calif.
1. "Whiplash"
2. "Creeping Death"
3. "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
4. "Enter Sandman"
5. "Lux Æterna"
6. "Too Far Gone?" (followed by Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo's "Funk in the Desert" doodle)
7. "Fade to Black"
8. "Fuel"
9. "Orion"
10. "Nothing Else Matters"
11. "Sad but True"
12. "The Day That Never Comes"
13. "Hardwired"
14. "Seek & Destroy"
15. "One"
16. "Master of Puppets"

Metallica at Power Trip 2023

They left no doubt as to who the reigning titans of heavy metal are.

Gallery Credit: Bryan Rolli

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