I was excited when it was announced last summer that MEGADETH was bringing back their Gigantour package. I thought it was cool idea a while back and when they announced the lineup I was intrigued. As it was originally intended Gigantour was meant to show case top musicianship and technicality. Before it’s hiatus for a few years it still had good bands, but became more about acts Dave Mustaine personally enjoys. And it’s hard to fault his tastes and since it’s his package so he can do what he wants to. I was cool to see an eclectic line up sure to bring out a variety of fans.
LACUNA COIL kicked things off on this night. It has been sometime since I seen or heard the Italian goth rockers live. I definitely enjoyed their first few albums compared to their middle era, however their just released new album Dark Adrenaline (Century Media) is very good. The band hit the stage under their impressive backing banner and atmospheric lights and the kicked things off with “Our Truth” from the Karmacode album. The band was tight and vocalists Christina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro sounded great. It was cool to hear the early crowd represent for the band and singing along loudly. Perhaps conscious of their short set time the band worked diligently, going right into their next song “Upsidedown” off the new album. It was another good song and again it is hard to train your focus off of the two lead singers who are perfectly in sync with each other as performers. I liked that the band changed things up from song to song in terms of tempo, which was a past critique I had for the band. After another few new songs, including the excellent single “Trip the Darkness” they closed out with “Spellbound” which was good way to describe the audience when the band was done.
Kill the Light
Trip the Darkness
VOLBEAT was up next and you had an idea of the scale of this tour when you saw their entire stage set up with a massive drum set and their graphics covered wall of guitar stacks. The arrived to a cheer in the filling arena and having cut their teeth through constant touring (including a run with METALLICA) I shouldn’t be surprised at the reaction. The band launched immediately into “The Human Instrument”. They sounded fresh and their rollicking riffs make for fun songs to head bang along to and sing to. Front man Michael Poulson is a fine showman, wails as a singer and is a solid guitar player. Joining him and the band on this tour is metal legend Hank Sherman (MERCIFUL FATE among others) who looked cool with his sunglasses on in the dark arena and seemed to be enjoying himself immensely. After playing some of their best known tunes I was kind of surprised that they broke out their cover of “I Only Want To Be With You”, but a lot of people in the building seemed to know the pop classic. The next song was their best in “Pool of Booze, Booze, Bouza”. Following their closer of “Still Counting” the band did a partial cover of SLAYER’s “Raining Blood” which was fun. I’m sure VOLBEAT is the only band that can effectively cover SLAYER and DUSTY SPRINGFIELD in the same show and have it make sense. Good job!
The Human Instrument
Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
The Mirror and the Ripper
Sad Man’s Tongue
I Only Want to Be with You (cover)
Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza
Raining Blood (cover)
What can I say about MOTÖRHEAD that hasn’t been said already? Not much. The band is the dean of all existing rock bands and transcended genres they have inspired like thrash metal and hardcore punk. The fact that the band would open for MEGADETH says a lot about how much they respect and understand metal fans, even though LEMMY has often said the band wasn’t truly enmeshed in the genre. And he’s right. Still the band was not going to change, cater or bow down to anyone since they were in the opening slot and I can proudly say the fans wouldn’t have it any other way. There were equally as many people in the house to see them as the headliners after all! So the band played what amounted to an abbreviated greatest hits set and what a set it was. They started off with “Bomber” which just killed! “Bomber” is my favorite song by the band so hearing it live pleased me to no end. The band does what they always do, making magic happen with drums, guitars, bass, Lemmy’s vocals and volume. A shit load of volume. I was up front for the start of the set and even with my ear plugs in it was punishing me. Lemmy stood tall as usual and led the venerable group through tracks like “Damage Case”, “Metropolis”, “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch”. During “The One To Sing The Blues” Mikkey Dee took his customary drum solo in which he goes on to smoke just about every other guy alive behind that massive kit. As usual it is hard to top any band with three better songs to finish a show with than “Killed By Death”, “Ace of Spades”, and “Overkill”. Another deafening experience for all.
I Know How to Diet
The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
The One to Sing the Blues (Drum Solo)
Going to Brazil
Killed by Death
Ace of Spades
As a huge curtain covered the front of the stage the crew started setting things up for MEGADETH. Behind the release of the solid new album Th1rt3en I was thrilled by the thought of a somewhat new set list for this tour. I have seen the band a ton of times and roughly six times in about 18 months, mainly when they were doing the Rust in Peace 20th Anniversary tours. They were terrific at The Big Four show in NYC last fall in spite of how badly injured Mustaine was. This was gonna be good.
The band started to play behind the still raised curtain and Shawn Drover beat out the rhythm that starts “Trust”. As the main riff kicked in the the curtain dropped and over course Mr. Mustaine took his place on stage last. He wore his iconic double neck flying-V axe and seemed in great spirits. Dave moved a little less freely and didn’t head bang as much as he used to, but he played as flawlessly as ever. The rest of the band was tight as well, especially Chris Broderick on his solos and backing vocals. Next it was time for “Wake Up Dead” and this sometimes heard classic went down awesome. Then came the terrific two-fer of “Hangar 18” and “Sweating Bullets”. The band ran around a fairly grandiose looking stage with flood lights, strobes and a video backdrop that was impressive.
Another early set list gem was “Angry Again”. Even though the song was technically a “hit” they don’t play it often and the riffs are terrific. Plus Mustaine and Broderick trading solos is worth the price of the show alone. The middle portion of the headliner’s set was comprised of new songs off the new album. While they are solid tracks that call to mind the successful early-to mid 90s era of the band, I felt the air go out of the crowds’ sails a bit. Still, the music and performances hold up well considering. Another interesting choice in the show was the revamped version of “A Tout Le Monde”. While I am not crazy about the song, Christina Scabbia came out to do her part of the vocal duet with Mustaine and sounded very good. I would be all set personally if the band stopped playing the song in future tours.
The night was drawing to a close the best was still yet to come. “Symphony of Destruction” for all of its simplicity is one of the best riffs of all time. It was crushingly heavy and the pit really opened up for once in the show. Next Mustaine talked about this being an election year and how all the candidates blew big time. After suggesting the crowd use him as a write in candidate, David Ellefson jammed the familiar bass intro to “Peace Sells”. The floor was absolute bedlam and the it was definitely the highlight of the night. After the song was done the band came back out for the customary encore of “Holy Wars”. I was a little surprised by the shortness of the set, but considering the full production of the show and how strong the bands were, it’s hard to argue with the value of the experience. I’d like to hear the band drop some more old school jams into the next round of touring, but I applaud their effort overall.
Wake Up Dead
Public Enemy No. 1
Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)
Guns, Drugs & Money
A Tout Le Monde (with Cristina Scabbia)
Symphony of Destruction
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
Words and photos by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes