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MEGADETH Enthralls Arizona With Last North American Show Of The Year

By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal

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November 6th 2010, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix AZ: After seven months of non-stop touring, thrash titans Megadeth decided to do a one-off show at the Arizona State Fair. As Los Angeles residents, my friend and I looked at three factors; incredibly cheap tickets priced at 24 dollars for the GA floor all fees included, a 6-hour drive on a not-so-busy I-10 East, and Megadeth's final North American show of the year. So we figured, why the hell not!

When we entered the Arizona State Fair at around 3 PM today, all we knew was that we were here to see Megadeth. We had absolutely no idea what was about to hit us. It was a pretty unusual setting because apparently the upper section was free for people that paid the fair admission! I thought that was really cool of the band's management and whoever else was involved in the decision, to not worry about the money and just allow people to enjoy the show.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that we weren't made to wait long as the doors were opened at 5.30 and we got great spots on the centre of the barricade, from where we would have a perfect view all night. After taking a look at the stage that was already set up with Megadeth's Endgame Vic as the backdrop and the Endgame art either side of the drumkit, I knew two things. Firstly there was definitely not going to be even a single opening band, and secondly they weren't about to play "Rust In Peace" in its entirety again. I say this because for the Rust In Peace tours this year they had a stage setup that was themed on that album's artwork. Sure enough, at exactly 7 PM, the Black Sabbath intro rang loud and clear on the PA, which by the way is the best possible intro a metal show could ever have, and it was time to get ready for Megadeth. They hit the stage with the monstrous "Wake Up Dead", kicking off the show in a manner only they can. It's always interesting to see what song they open with, because they seem to open with a different song every time I see them, not counting the shows with Slayer because those were clearly not their own shows. Sleepwalker in Long Beach in 2008, Sweating Bullets in Los Angeles and Dialectic Chaos in Las Vegas last year, and Skin O' My Teeth in Hollywood earlier this year.

After that rip-roaring entry into the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, they brought out "In My Darkest Hour", which has always been a fan favorite because of the immensely enjoyable sing-along the crowd can indulge in. They continued with "She Wolf" and "Skin O' My Teeth", raising the excitement and energy inside the building with every single chorus, and by the time Dave Mustaine addressed the crowd after these first four songs were done, the roar was deafening. He switched from his "Angel Of Deth" guitar to the Rust In Peace guitar and went straight into the "Holy Wars" intro. After Holy Wars, they did "Hangar 18" and even though we've seen these songs so many times, they undeniably are two of Megadeth's greatest classics and the crowd didn't seem to mind even one bit. But it was the next song "Five Magics" that really had me pumped up because it's a rare gem, and it also meant that they were NOT doing the entire Rust In Peace album, as they followed tracks 1 and 2 with track 4. As cool as it was that they did Rust In Peace this year, I was getting a feeling at last month's LA show that they were kind of overdoing it, and I was really, really glad that for once they didn't do it for this particular show. That said, they definitely nailed Five Magics tonight, and had the crowd going completely fucking nuts, myself included, by following it up with "Posion Was The Cure".

The last RIP song of the night "Tornado Of Souls" was amazing as ever, specially Chris Broderick's incredibly flawless rendition of one of the best guitar solos ever written. After this Dave did a quick guitar switch again, bringing out his double neck guitar for "Trust", another one of their easy going tunes for which the crowd fitted in seamlessly, singing along for each and every word. From double neck to Dean Zero went Dave before he talked to the crowd again, introducing the next song as one that was featured in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Knowing what that song was, I flipped out and lost all control, as I never expected to see it live. In case you're still wondering, "Angry Again" is the song I'm talking about. We were thrilled to bits.

It was finally time for some Endgame songs, the first one being "How The Story Ends". The aforementioned LA show in October was the only other time they had ever played this song, and this time I was truly able to appreciate the musical depth and intricacy of it from up close. I was pleasantly surprised to see Chris play the interlude, because to me it sure sounds like something Dave would have written and would play on stage. The face-melting "Headcrusher" followed and is turning out to be a worthy staple in their live set. Talking of staples, they did "A Tout Le Monde" next, but not before Dave, equipped with the Angel of Death VMNT again, joked around with David Ellefson and shared a funny story about their French language teacher. It was really great to see "Sweating Bullets" in the set for the first time since last year, which is a pretty long time considering the number of shows they've done since then. In my opinion it's their best live song and I urge them to play it regularly. Dave switched guitars one final time to the "Gears of War" VMNT and kicked off the final portion of the set that consisted of "Symphony Of Destruction", "Peace Sells" and a reprise version of "Holy Wars", complete with an introduction to his band mates. This is about as close as you'll get to a perfect Megadeth set, as it touches upon almost their entire catalog. Add in one song from "Killing Is My Business", and there you'd have it.

The band looked exhuberant and sounded flawless. There was absolutely no sign of fatigue and the two-week break seemed to have done them no harm at all. Out of the eight times I've seen the band, I've never seen Dave Mustaine so happy up there on stage. He was talking to us a lot more than he usually does. He even pointed out and clowned somebody in the front row who was talking to a friend instead of looking at the stage and listening to Dave. He seemed in amazingly high spirits throughout the gig, joking around with Ellefson as well, inviting him to share the spotlight and take the centre mic. The band's interaction with people in the front row during the show was top notch as they made plenty of eye contact and were very expressive. They gelled together amazingly well and the chemistry among the members was there for everyone to see. Judging from this performance, I can safely say that Megadeth are firmly past the inner-band drama that always used to plague them, and with this line-up, they are here to dominate the world of heavy metal for quite a few years to come. I get excited just thinking about the fact that they are going to start working on new material soon, at least according to what they told me in interviews.

With a typically exhilerating yet uniquely intimate way to say goodbye to North American touring for the year, Megadeth made our long roadtrip completely worth it, and then some.

Here's their complete set list:
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
She Wolf
Skin O' My Teeth
Holy Wars
Hangar 18
Five Magics
Poison Was The Cure
Tornado Of Souls
Angry Again
How The Story Ends
A Tout Le Monde
Sweating Bullets
Symphony Of Destruction
Peace Sells
Holy Wars (Reprise)

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