Megadeth: Live Review
By guest writer Julia Neuman
March 31st 2010, The Palladium, Hollywood CA: After the postponement of the American Carnage tour, I was left feeling empty and sad; the show I had been anticipating for so long would no longer be happening. And then, just when I thought I'd have to wait another six months to see Megadeth and Testament, the Rust in Peace Anniversary tour was announced. I marked up March 31st on my calendar in bright red ink.
This event was not simply a concert, but a giant celebration of thrash metal that consisted of three legendary bands - Megadeth, Testament and Exodus - coming together on the same bill. Drawing a crowd of die-hards that would produce one intense concert experience, this show was a thrasher's dream. Ultimately, the evening was centered on the 20th anniversary of Megadeth's "Rust in Peace", one of the most praised metal records of all time. Megadeth playing straight through this classic album was enough to be a spectacle in itself. Add in Testament's "The Legacy" in its entirety and a violently fun show from Exodus, and you've got yourself the perfect night of thrash metal mayhem.
Just a few minutes after the doors opened on the day of the show, the Hollywood Palladium was already filled. Unlike at most shows that have some no-name bands playing for a few hours before anyone hears the good stuff, fans at this show were getting blasted with Exodus's "Bonded by Blood" as the first song. It's no wonder that at 7 PM sharp I was already shoved up against the rail so tightly I could barely breathe. Exodus came out with a bang; guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus were running across the stage back and forth, while vocalist Rob Dukes repeatedly made circle motions with his hand in hopes of stirring up the pit. It had been announced earlier that Megadeth would be filming the show for a live DVD, and Dukes informed the crowd that Exodus's portion would also be on a DVD. He didn't specify whether it would be separate or included on the Megadeth DVD, but either way, the band's energy level was kicked up a notch for the cameras. From where I was standing (on the rail, just a little bit to the right of center stage), the sound was not too good. The guitar, bass and drums were perfectly audible but the vocals were completely absent. Exodus played a great setlist to make up for some of the sound quality issues. The band opening with "Bonded by Blood" was a smack in the face in the best way possible, but the second half of Exodus's set was when the real fun began. "War is My Sheppard" and "Toxic Waltz" definitely got the pit moving. The set was closed with a giant wall of death during "Strike of the Beast" (Dukes: "I want everyone over here�to kill�everyone over there!!"). My bruised arms and sides at the end of Exodus were good signs that it was a killer set, albeit a short one. I love the fact that even after 30 years, Exodus is still one of the best no-frills-no-bullshit thrash bands in the world.
I expected the crowd to step back a little bit between sets, but that never happened. People's sweat-soaked hair and clothing were surrounding me like a giant suffocating bubble - although I was pretty lucky to have at least some air to breathe in front of me (thank you, rail spot!). Luckily the set change seemed to fly by pretty quickly, and Testament came out and opened with the first track off of The Legacy, "Over the Wall". My first thoughts: Chuck Billy is one of the most underrated frontmen in metal. His voice is so powerful that I'm sure it was heard all the way down Sunset Blvd. I love the fact that he air guitars like the music depends on it, and his microphone stub is his instrument. As most people are well aware, guitarist Alex Skolnick was out for this tour focusing on his side project called the Alex Skolnick Trio, and he was replaced by ex-Megadeth guitarist Glen Drover. Drover looked confident and did an excellent job with the solos, as did Eric Peterson. Paul Bostaph's drumming stole the show. Ask anyone in the Palladium that night - Testament's beats were the loudest and most beastly sound in the show.
The classics from The Legacy such as "First Strike is Deadly" and "Alone in the Dark" were superb. It was obvious that the band was having a lot of fun on stage; this was the final show, and the crowd was crazy, so the band was giving it their all for everyone in the house that night. Finally it came time for the last song of the set, and I was thinking back to a few days before when I had tweeted a humble request to Testament - a plea for them to play my all time favorite song of theirs, "3 Days in Darkness". I was expecting a setlist staple from the tour to close out the show, maybe "Into the Pit" or "Souls of Black". But then I heard a familiar riff, and I looked up and realized that it was the intro I had wanted to hear. It almost seemed like I was the only one screaming out the lyrics word for word, but that didn't matter. Despite having elbows jabbing into my side, crowdsurfers kicking me in the head and moshers crushing me against the rail, I was elated. It was an awesome ending to a kickass set.
During the set changed between Testament and Megadeth, I began questioning my ability to hold out on the rail; I was in so much pain that it was becoming a huge chore to stand up straight. But there was absolutely no way that I could back out right before Megadeth. When the lights dimmed and the intro came on, I felt a wave of adrenaline in my body that kept me going. The spotlight came on over the drumkit, where Glen Drover appeared and made a gesture to rev up the crowd. Then Broderick came out, followed by David Ellefson (for whom the crowd gave a huge roar). Dave straggled out in a big entrance, and the band began "Skin of My Teeth". The pit went nuts. The crowdsurfers were over my head every ten or twenty seconds, bending my body over the rail as they came down into the photo pit. It was a struggle to concentrate on the show, but seeing this legendary band up close (and being directly in front of Dave Mustaine himself) made it well worth it. They played a couple songs before Mustaine approached the mic and triumphantly asked, "You all know why we're here, right?!" and immediately launched into "Holy Wars". It was an interesting scene: each person in the crowd was singing every word while enduring periodic painful blows from crowdsurfers. By the time the band began "Hangar 18", there had already been several people who had asked to be pulled out of the pit. The next few songs, "Take No Prisoners", "Five Magics" and "Lucretia", were some of the best of the night and got the crowd going even more. There was such an excitement in the air to be witnessing this iconic band playing one of the most beloved metal albums of all time - especially on the last night of the tour. To top it off, Chris Broderick nailed every solo almost perfectly, with an expression of effortlessness and a great sense of connection with the crowd. The "Tornado of Souls" solo - arguably the best moment on Rust in Peace - sounded just as it does on the album. Finally, "Rust in Peace...Polaris" was another highlight of the evening. Everything from the drums, to the groovy guitar riff, to the growling vocal additions from Broderick made the performance of this album closer a success.
Next up was one of Megadeth's best live songs, "Trust". The guitar harmony sounded richer than ever during this song, and the track's slower vibe created a lull in the crowd. It was the perfect pause in the set for everyone in the audience to take a deep breath and realize just how lucky they were to be at this show. After playing a couple songs off of Endgame, Megadeth closed with the heavy "Symphony of Destruction" and, soon after, returned for the encore with "Peace Sells". The ending of the show featured an extended jam and a short cameo appearance on stage by Rob Dukes and Chuck Billy. Again, there was definitely a sense of intimacy here and I could tell each musician was overjoyed to be on stage, surrounded by friends and dedicated fans.
Megadeth and the crowd had a great connection throughout the night, and the show as a whole was something that each crowdgoer will remember for the rest of his or her life. I'm sure that the DVD will capture some of this excitement so that those who weren't there can feel it too. I walked out of the venue with a limp - the buckles on my boots completely undone and clinking on the ground as I walked. I looked around and noticed the same exhausted but satisfied faces on everyone else. Yes, it had been the perfect night of thrash metal mayhem.Check out the bands here:
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