By Andrew Bansal
[Live photos by Brad Worsham]
October 29th 2013, Shrine Expo Hall, Los Angeles CA: Coming off successful tours with Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath in North and South America respectively, heavy metal titans Megadeth played a one-off event at the Shrine Expo Hall in the University Of Southern California area of Los Angeles last night. Their ‘Super Collider’ North American headline tour doesn’t start for another three weeks, so this was certainly a somewhat of a unique, intimate performance, with absolutely no opening acts. Of late, Megadeth have shared the stage with some huge bands, but it had been a long time since the band’s fans in Los Angeles got to witness a pure, exclusive Megadeth show of this kind. Of course, at the time of buying tickets nobody was aware that there wouldn’t be any opening bands, and come the day of show when the news started to spread amongst ticket buyers, there was a general feeling of pleasant surprise and a heightened degree of anticipation. The doors opened promptly at 7:30 PM, and everyone headed inside in the hope of basking in a special Megadeth night.
It’s safe to say that no one in this crowd had ever been to this venue before, so it was going to be a new experience for everyone in that sense. Upon first impression, the Shrine Expo Hall looked interesting, and I could almost describe it as a rectangular version of the Palladium, but a lot smaller. I’m estimating the capacity to be somewhere around 1500-2000 and for this show it was nearly packed, which was great not only for the band but also for the atmosphere during the show itself. The prospect of Megadeth playing in front of 1500 people who had come purely to see them was exciting in itself, and despite seeing Megadeth as many as 11 times prior to this, this kind of setting was something I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
Megadeth made the fans wait a little longer as the clock ticked past the scheduled start time of 8:30, but at 8:45, the lights went out and the ‘Prince Of Darkness’ intro was played on the PA, accompanied by an animated video on the screens in the backdrop and on either side of the drumkit, along with the ever-rising volume of roars from this highly enthusiastic crowd. They began with ‘Hangar 18’ as a mosh pit broke out exactly in the center of the floor and stayed in constant motion throughout the set, even during songs that aren’t exactly ‘mosh-worthy’. It just went to prove that fans were here to simply had a good time, and that’s how it should be.
After coming out all guns blazing with ‘Hangar 18’ they went into tunes like ‘Wake Up Dead’ and ‘In My Darkest Hour’, and the initial part of the set was similar to what they played at the Iron Maiden show in San Bernardino last month. But fans here were enjoying these Megadeth classics immensely and the vibe in this room was just electric. ‘Kingmaker’ off of the latest album ‘Super Collider’ was played next, and I have to say, now that I’ve heard it twice in the live setting, followed by the ever-amazing ‘Sweating Bullets’, hands down one of the best live Megadeth tunes. So far the show had followed a largely ‘normal’ Megadeth course, but I had a strong feeling there was going to be at least one major surprise, with this being a one-off show that’s not part of a tour. And sure enough, frontman Dave Mustaine addressed the crowd for the first time, and said, “We just toured with Black Sabbath in South America and it’s really great to be back in Los Angeles to play for you guys. Now here’s a tune we haven’t played in a very long time, from the ‘So Far So Good… So What!’ album. I hope you know this one!” They went straight into ‘Set The World Afire’, and it certainly was an excellent surprise, something that would make this show worth the money for the fans, something that only the attendees of this event could boast of witnessing. You could tell that the band was putting more effort into this song than any of the others, and naturally, the song’s impact on this crowd was enormous. This was nearly the half-way point of the set, and the choice and placement of this song went a long way towards the band getting a good response for the rest of the show, as the energy in the crowd carried over to the second half of the set.
‘A Tout Le Monde’, ‘She Wolf’ and Trust’ were played next , each of them garnering quite a lovely sing-along from this amazing crowd. These might be termed by many critics as ‘generic’ Megadeth tunes, but they were just as enjoyable as anything else played last night. It just goes to show, any song becomes exciting to hear live as an audience member when you’re right in the thick of the action, standing amidst 1500 people singing along every word of it. So far, Mustaine was in his usual element guitar-wise, but the biggest difference in his live performance that I’ve noticed this year is in the vocals. He is sounding infinitely better nowadays than some of the first few Megadeth shows I saw. ‘In My Darkest Hour’ and ‘Sweating Bullets’, for example, are songs that need to have solid vocals to have the same kind of impact they generate on the studio recordings, and Mustaine certainly delivered on that count. David Ellefson was as monstrous as ever on the bass and backing vocals, with guitarist Chris Broderick nailing down all notes and getting his best moment in the spotlight on the ‘Tornado Of Souls’ solo. Drummer Shawn Drover nicely rounded out the band’s live sound, and together this quartet treated fans to a memorable show, one of the better ones I’ve seen from them, in all honesty.
There’s a lot of talk among critics, naysayers and snobs about Megadeth down-tuning their live shows a half-step. All I’d say is, if it’s helping Mustaine deliver better vocals I don’t see a problem with it. If anything, some of the tunes sound darker and better in the down-tuned setting. Besides the songs themselves, the use of the screens really added an extra dimension to the Megadeth live experience, and it was good to see them bring their whole stage production even for this one-off show. This being a Megadeth headline show, Mustaine got plenty of opportunity to indulge in monologues and crowd banter. I’d never seen him do the ‘which side of the crowd is louder’ bit before, but he did it last night and seemed to be enjoying himself a great deal up on that stage. He mentioned Ellefson’s new autobiography ‘My Life With Deth’, and humorously called it ‘a book about putting up with me for the last 30 years’ and interjected, ‘Is it fictional? Or a horror story? I’m not sure!’
All that aside, they closed off the set in typical fashion with ‘Symphony Of Destruction’, ‘Peace Sells’ and ‘Holy Wars’, and said their goodbyes. This high-octane 75-minute Megadeth performance seemed to appease most if not all fans in attendance. There is a multitude of Megadeth classics that fans would love to hear, songs weren’t played last night and haven’t been played in a while, but nonetheless, this was a solid set with a well-chosen surprise, and the best part of the show was the ‘all-Megadeth’ vibe of it, with the entire crowd supporting the band’s every move. The one thing I take away from this show both as a fan and a reviewer is, Megadeth headline shows are infinitely better than their shows as support act, and fans would simply hope for more headline gigs in the near and long-term future.
Check out more photos from the show by Brad Worsham:
1. Hangar 18
2. Wake Up Dead
3. In My Darkest Hour
5. Sweating Bullets
6. Set The World Afire
7. A Tout Le Monde
8. She Wolf
10.Tornado Of Souls
11.Symphony Of Destruction
Megadeth tour dates with Fear Factory & Nonpoint:
11/23 St. Paul, MN / Myth Live
11/24 Madison, WI / Orpheum Theatre
11/26 Grand Rapids, MI / Orbit Room
11/27 Detroit, MI / The Fillmore
11/29 Montclair, NJ / The Wellmont Theater
11/30 Bethlehem, PA / Sands Bethlehem Event Center
12/01 Boston, MA / House of Blues Boston
12/03 Huntington, NY / The Paramount
12/04 Silver Spring, MD / The Fillmore Silver Spring
12/05 Charlotte, NC / The Fillmore Charlotte
12/07 N. Myrtle Beach, SC / House of Blues Myrtle Beach
12/08 Saint Petersburg, FL / Jannus Live
12/09 Lake Buena Vista, FL / House of Blues Orlando
12/12 Houston, TX / Bayou Music Center
12/14 Socorro, TX / Socorro Entertainment Center