This time last year, the future of Megadeth was uncertain to the public. Guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover had left the band within hours of each other in November. Bandleader, lead singer, and guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson were auditioning replacements.
There were rumors of a Rust in Peace (1990) lineup reunion. It was attempted, but it didn’t happen.
Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler were officially announced as Megadeth’s newest members in Spring 2015.
The band’s latest effort, Dystopia, was released this January. Widely acclaimed, it hit #3 on the Billboard Top 200. It beat Adele and Justin Bieber for the #1 iTunes spot in Canada and has been regarded by many as Megadeth’s finest album in decades (or at least since Endgame).
Fresh on the heels of Dystopia‘s success, Megadeth set out on the killing road with a killer set of supporting bands in tow: legendary crossover punks Suicidal Tendencies, Finnish melodeath virtuosos Children of Bodom, and emerging Colorado thrashers, Havok. I am a fan of all the bands on the bill and had seen them all previously, which made me particularly excited for this show.
Havok opened with four songs. Among those were “D.O.A.” and “Give Me Liberty… Or Give Me Death”. On my side of the pit, you couldn’t hear David Sanchez’s vocals very well, but the band put on a hell of a show, as was expected of them. Considering I had seen them play to packed smaller venues, I was surprised that more people in the crowd did not know who they were. I was also slightly disappointed that they only played four songs. But even though most of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with the band at first, Havok was given hearty applause once they finished their set.
Children of Bodom played another short set, which included songs from their newest album, I Worship Chaos (2015), and classic material like “Hate Me” and “Angels Don’t Kill.” The guitars were nearly inaudible on my side, which saddened me, because I really admire Alexi Laiho’s guitar work. The sound levels were fixed about halfway through their set. Regardless, Bodom shredded.
Up to this point, the crowd was mostly calm in my area, with a few people moshing and one girl crowdsurfing during Bodom’s set. But once Suicidal took the stage, all hell broke loose.
Suicidal Tendencies opened with a ripping version of “You Can’t Bring Me Down,” and singer Mike Muir was running and jumping all over the stage throughout their whole set. None other than Slayer’s Dave Lombardo was behind S.T.’s kit. Their dynamic seven-song set was filled with hits like “Institutionalized” and “I Saw Your Mommy”. The crowd was going wild, with plenty of people headbanging, moshing, and crowd-surfing. Even though they had small rigs (the guitarists only had half-stacks), they were the best-sounding band of the night so far, and definitely the most energetic.
Next up was the band everyone was waiting for.
Suicidal quickly tore down their equipment, and a curtain dropped, revealing the massive futuristic apparatus Megadeth would be playing in front of. It was nice surprise to see Mustaine’s guitar tech, Willie Gee, setting up. From what I knew, he had retired last year.
About twenty minutes later, the lights went down. An intro animation of Megadeth’s logo danced on the video screen as “Prince of Darkness” played in the background. Then, the band launched into “The Threat Is Real,” strutting onstage as lights flashed and smoke machines went off.
Dave Mustaine may not be the most flamboyant frontman in metal, but he strode all over the stage throughout the band’s set, bobbing his fiery mane up and down while his fingers danced all over the fretboard. His voice sounded in particularly great condition tonight. Even though the band was tuned down to D to accommodate his vocals, it gave the songs an added darkness.
David Ellefson and Kiko Loureiro also walked up and down the stage as they played, heading back to their microphones in time to sing backing vocals. Even as they sang, they smiled and interacted with the crowd, throwing us picks in between songs. To say Kiko nailed Marty Friedman’s solos would be an understatement.
Chris Adler was situated atop a massive drum riser embedded into their futuristic stage prop. I couldn’t see his face much during the actual show, but the pictures I took show him smiling.
Their setlist spanned 30 years; they played material off most of their albums from Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? (1986) to Dystopia (2016). It was awesome to hear some deeper cuts from Rust In Peace like “Dawn Patrol” and “Poison Was The Cure,” as well as their hits like “A Tout Le Monde”.
What struck me as odd was that the Phoenix crowd did not seem to know the “Megadeth, Megadeth, aguante Megadeth” chant that Argentina had pioneered for “Symphony Of Destruction”. Not only do the Argentinian crowds chant it, but so do the crowds in other Latin countries. Fellow Latino Kiko Loureiro came to my side of the venue and saw me mouthing those words, then he smiled at me.
As the four members united at center stage to take their final bow and throw picks and wristbands into the audience, my only thought was, “Why did it have to end?”
I had seen Megadeth before. Not once, but three times, and those three shows paled in comparison to this one. It was like I had seen a different band, and in a sense, I had. All the members seemed legitimately happy to belong to the same group, and you could feel their radiance beaming from the stage.
Catch this tour if you can. You won’t regret it.
- The Threat Is Real
- Hangar 18
- Wake Up Dead
- In My Darkest Hour
- Sweating Bullets
- Dawn Patrol
- Poison Was The Cure
- Skin O’ My Teeth
- Fatal Illusion
- A Tout Le Monde
- Symphony Of Destruction
- Peace Sells
- Holy Wars…The Punishment Due