My archive tells me it’s been over two years since I’ve been able to file a live report for the mighty Sentinel Daily, so when it was suggested I might like to ‘stroll over to Austin’ by SD editor Scott Adams to see the new-look and newly revitalised Megadeth on the opening night of their American tour, I jumped at the chance!
The stroll is actually a three hour drive from where I live, but I’m not complaining. I’m also not going to go into what’s gone down in the world since my last review – we all know – but I have to say what a relief and a joy it is to once again be stood amongst like minded folks with one thing on their mind – like me, they’ve come to rock!
And I have to say, Dave Mustaine an’ the boys don’t disappoint. Before the arrival of the ‘deth on stage the talk in the bleachers centres around Mustaine’s match fitness – remember, he’s not long over a battle with cancer – and what the band would sound like with returning bassist James Lomenzo back in the fold. And let me tell you – nobody need worry on either count…
On this opening night the band keeps things tight, heavy and punchy but also well drilled, with the performance slick and seemingly completely bereft of first-night glitches. Lomenzo and guitarist Kiko Loureiro are not mere ‘sidemen’ in this version of Megadeth. This pair and mesmerising drum guy Dirk Verbeuren form a trio behind Mustaine that must rank as good as any in the history of the band. On opening track Hanger 18 the band hit the band running – it’s a great track to open things with but tonight, the build up and release of pent-up emotion from the crowd adds to it’s drama and impact – and the quartet just don’t let go for the duration of the set. Mustaine understandably keeps things short and to the point between songs “I just like to shut up and play my fucking guitar’ he comments at one point, and save for some odd goings on during Conquer or Die! which involved a roadie who appeared to be dressed as Y&T Man from the Summertime Girls clip stalking the stage, it’s all about the music and not the show.
Loureiro plays lead guitar with taste and style, and his partnership with Mustaine is great to hear. On a ballbreaking version of Mechanix they mesh perfectly, and Hanger 18 aside, it’s probably the highlight of the night alongside a raunchy take on Sweating Bullets.
Mustaine’s voice starts to flag a little towards the end, understandably, but Lomenzo and Loureiro help with the heavy lifting on some of the choruses. But frankly, this isn’t a night for criticism. Megadeth are back, for this reviewer live music is back, and both of these facts are cause for celebration!
Dave Mustaine pic courtesy of Ralph Arvesen
See all of Ralph’s shots of the show HERE