Place: House Of Blues, Las Vegas NV
Review by ~ Aniruddh 'Andrew' Bansal
Photos by ~ Downshifter
By the time I got to the floor, the doors had been opened to the general public long time back and the show was well under way. The reason for opening the doors at 5.45 and for starting the show as early as 6.15 could only be that it was a Sunday and quite a few people who come to the shows in Vegas are out-of-towners. So I happened to miss the opening band Arcanium completely. The next band to hit the stage were our very own Warbringer from Ventura, California! I can't even tell you how glad I was for these guys to have gotten on the bill with a band like Megadeth. I have known and hung out with the vocalist John Kevill in their LA shows and I am really happy for him. These guys are definitely one of the brightest hopes for the thrash metal revolution and it shows in their music and their stage performance. The band Suicide Silence, who were the main support band up until now, had dropped out from this show for some unknown reason. So Warbringer got to play a little bit longer than they usually would have.
They played as many as ten songs and definitely succeeded in truly thrashing up the Las Vegas House Of Blues! We the LA metal heads gave our full support to the band by head banging, shouting and singing all the choruses. There were a few crowd surfers as well and the mosh pit got going at full speed. They played almost all the songs that us fans would want to hear, and they sounded tight and aggressive. John Kevill is one guy who knows how to get a crowd going crazy. During their set, their guitarist John Laux even jumped down and came near us in the front rows! They brought the whole 'local band' vibe to the place tonight, with their crowd interactions. At the end of their furious set, John Kevill did some crowd surfing and once he was back out in front safely, he gave high fives to all of us in the front few rows. So all in all, Warbringer did complete justice to their name on this bill and it will only get better for this group of lads.
I'm not sure of the ordering, but roughly this was their set list:
2. Living In A Whirlwind
3. Severed Reality
4. Total War
5. Shadow From The Tomb
6. Hell On Earth
7. At The Crack Of Doom
8. Abandoned By Time
9. Prey For Death
As a result of John's crowd surfing, there was a lot of shifting and moving within the crowd and I found myself being pushed up to the rail, which suited me perfectly fine because that's where I wanted to be for Megadeth! So there I was, in the most perfect spot I could have ever hoped for, front row in the center almost directly facing Dave Mustaine's mic stand. The black curtains were removed accompanied by a loud roar as Shawn Drover's drum kit and the wall of amps either side of it was revealed for the first time tonight. At 8.30, the lights went out and the music being played on the PA stopped. Our excitement levels went up several notches as Shawn was the first one to appear on stage and took his seat behind the drums. James came out next and took his position at stage right, to the left from our point of view. Chris came out among loud cheers and stationed himself stage left. The roars and cheers grew louder as Dave Mustaine slowly made his way up to the center of the stage. They stood there for a few seconds while the short intro music was played and the crowd was going nuts.
They kicked off the set with the instrumental track from the new album Endgame, 'Dialectic Chaos'. I remember saying it in my album review that this is a perfect opening track for an album as well as for a live show, and I really hoped that they would open their live shows with this and the song following it. That is exactly what happened here, and it was several times better than what I had imagined. Dave and Chris traded solo after solo with effortless ease and totally ripped through the track. It was time for me to do some serious air guitar! Its not that I told myself 'ok now I have to do this', but Megadeth's music is such that it almost forces me to do the whole air guitar thing. I made plenty of eye contact with Chris and he recognized me from the interview and meet n-greet, as he kept coming near us and played quite a few of his solos.
They continued the opening tune with 'This Day We Fight', in the same way that they do on the album. I am pretty sure that this was the most perfect 1-2 punch everyone of us wanted to experience on this tour. We got to hear Dave's aggressive vocals for the first time tonight and he sounded as good as he has ever done. I sung along as much as I possibly could, and the following lines were stuck in my head ever since I heard this song for the first time back in September, and it was beyond amazing to be able to sing these along with Dave himself!
A desperate avenger striking fear in their hearts
Invading their dreams before the day even starts
After this killer beginning, it was time for the band to bring out the old school Megadeth with the song 'Wake Up Dead'. This is another song I really enjoy singing along to. James' bass sounded really heavy on this one. Dave played his solo at the end of this song directly facing us. Seeing him shred on that beautifully monstrous guitar of his, the 'Angel of Deth', and head bang at the same time, is one of the most awe-inspiring things I have ever seen and will get to see in the numerous concerts that I go to. They continued their set with the next song 'Skin O' My Teeth'. Those were some of my favorite lyrics combined with some of my favorite guitar riffs right there. I hope this song never leaves their set as its one of their best live songs. After this non-stop four song assault on this smallish but really young and highly energetic crowd, they finally took a break and Dave changed from the Angel of Deth to his off-white colored Dean guitar before he addressed the crowd for the first time. He first thanked the crowd for coming out in support of the new album tour. He told us about Megadeth radio and took a rant at the fact that the usual radio stations don't play Megadeth, which was the main reason why he started his own radio. Then, he taught us how to sing the 'Headcrusher' chorus, as if we needed it!
I already feel attached to the song 'Headcrusher', because I was there to see it in its first ever live performance in Vancouver and I was there when they made a music video for it! Hearing it again made me relive all of that and go even crazier than during the first four songs. As always, this song pretty much flew by even before we realized it. Chris was shredding away solidly through his solo at the end of the song. Its my favorite Chris solo and his best on the album in my opinion. They did not stop after this song, but changed the tempo a little bit with 'A Tout Le Monde'. Although this set list was missing some songs I really wanted to hear, it was the most perfect set list of theirs I have ever been a part of, in terms of the singing along. I happened to know the lyrics of all these songs and it was just non-stop fun and madness up on that rail! This continued further with A Tout Le Monde and most of my fellow Droogs in the crowd joined in to sing along for this one. Getting to hear this song in a small club setting like this, with everyone singing along loudly was a great moment.
This led into the next song 'She-Wolf'. I chanted along for the whole solo at the end of it, a solo I have managed to learn on guitar myself and is quite special to me that way. Too bad that not many people sung along to the solo with me. Well, I hope I get to see Megadeth in Latin American some time, because it is the land of guitar sing-along. People sing the guitar parts more than the actual lyrics over there. I would so love to be part of such a crowd specially for a Megadeth show because they have such guitar solos in every song of theirs. Anyway, 'Tornado Of Souls' was the eighth song of the set and the set was getting better and better with every song they chose to play. Chris did an amazing job with his performance on Marty Friedman's epic solo. After this song the band took their second break and Dave came out with his mouth wateringly brilliant looking Rust In Peace guitar. To our delight, he pointed directly at our section of the rail and asked us if we were doing ok. He called one of the security guys who was standing to the side near the bar and told him to stand in front of us, saying 'I hate it when you guys don't do your job right. I want you to stand here and make sure that these people in the front don't get squished.' That was really nice of Dave to look out for his fans like that. The haters can say whatever they want, because I am going to turn a deaf ear to them, specially after the incident I just described.
They did another new song '1,320' and I am really happy they chose to play it. Its certainly one of the faster songs off of the new album and is perfect for a live setting. 'In My Darkest Hour', another song with amazing lyrics, followed it and I was joined by many to sing for this one. It sounded even better than the previous times I have ever seen the band play it. The next song was 'Sweating Bullets', a song that they don't really do on a regular basis and a song I have been lucky enough to get in two out of my three previous Megadeth shows. It was probably my favorite song in the set tonight, because of the lyrics and its gradual build up. Before taking another very short break, the band blasted through the ever-amazing 'Hangar 18'. Yet again I have to take my hat off to Chris Broderick to do an insanely great job on those out-of-this-world solos that he never even recorded and had to learn from scratch. In this break Dave took the opportunity to point out an idiot in the crowd who was doing nothing other than filming the whole show. Dave told him that its not cool what he is doing and he has to stop right now. I would completely agree with Dave and say that its not at all acceptable to film a whole show and use it for your own purposes, most probably selling it as a bootleg video.
They played the fifth and final new song of the set, '44 minutes'. This was followed by 'Trust'. They closed out the show with the usual staples 'Symphony Of Destruction', 'Peace Sells' and 'Holy Wars'. Dave thanked the crowd again and they started throwing out guitar picks, drum sticks and wrist bands. I got two of Dave's picks and his wrist band, as if I needed anything more to make this night any better for me than it already was. The band members got together hand in hand on stage and took a bow to us before Dave thanked us one final time, thanked the opening bands and promised to see us again soon. The band was amazingly tight and they delivered exactly what I had expected from them. No fooling around, no long speeches, no filler solos and no time wasting. They just flew through the 17 songs in the set and gave us an unforgettable and almost non-stop thrash fest.
I know I say this in almost every review of mine, but I really say what I honestly feel, and I am pretty sure you will find it very hard to disagree with what I am about to say. This was the best Megadeth experience and one of the best experiences in my life, one that I will remember forever.
Here's their complete set list:
1. Dialectic Chaos
2. This Day We Fight
3. Wake Up Dead
4. Skin O' My Teeth
6. A Tout Le Monde
8. Tornado Of Souls
10. In My Darkest Hour
11. Sweating Bullets
12. Hangar 18
13. 44 Minutes
15. Symphony Of Destruction
16. Peace Sells
17. Holy Wars
INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW AND CHRIS
Andrew: Chris, how's it going?
Chris: Its going very well. Thank you very much.
Andrew: On this tour you've been touring the smaller markets. How has it been in terms of the crowd response?
Chris: Its been great, you know. One of the places that I psyched is Billings, Montana where it was almost like going somewhere where they don't really get many live concerts, because they were fanatical, almost fanatical to a point about the show and it was awesome. But you get the feeling that they really don't get a lot of acts. There were other places like Florida where a lot of bands don't travel down there because its just not economical to bring your crew, to bring all the rigging and stuff like that to travel that far down there. So it was good to get to those places for people that have supported us for so long.
Andrew: This tour you've been playing some of the new songs, songs that you recorded yourself for the first time. Has it been easier than previous tours to play your own songs for a change?
Chris: Yes and no. I identify with them may be a little bit more because they are my compositions but at the same time I personally think they are pretty demanding, so its always like going into an Olympic contest and seeing if you can come out with the gold. I'll put it that way.
Andrew: What is your opinion on the support bands you've been taking out on this tour?
Chris: Honestly I really like Arcanium. They're a really cool bunch of people and I like the style of music that they are doing. Warbringer is fairly new on here. They definitely carry the thrash torch, so its pretty cool to hear that. Its so resurgent in such a younger band, you know. And of course we had Suicide Silence on, they are not playing tonight but I had a huge respect for them since they were doing their own kind of thing and definitely turning it up to 11. They are definitely heavy and the drummer was really good. So I have respect for them. Of course, Machine Head is just awesome. I was sad to see them go. They are a great live band.
Andrew: I don't think many people out there in the line know that Suicide Silence are not playing tonight! What happened there?
Chris: I don't really know. I don't know the full story, so I would rather not say because I could say something that is absolutely incorrect.
Andrew: Dave Mustaine keeps saying in his interviews that you are the best guitarist ever to have played in Megadeth. What is going through your mind when he says stuff like that?
Chris: Two things, one is that its so awesome that he would say something like that and the second thing is oh crap I have to live up to that. So its humbling and at the same time I guess its very encouraging in a sense. But ultimately its for you guys, the fans to decide and hopefully you feel the same!
Andrew: We've seen pictures of your new Endgame guitar. Whose idea was that?
Chris: It was mine. You know, I definitely wanted to do an Endgame guitar and first we thought of just putting the album cover on the guitar but it just didn't look right. I mean, from a distance you couldn't really tell what was going on with the guitar. So that [the new design] I thought was a much better image to use than the Endgame artwork. That guitar never goes out of tune. I play it for the whole show.
Andrew: How different will the tour with Slayer and Testament will be in terms of the set list and your preparation for it?
Chris: The big thing is going to be that the production level is going to go up. I just think that the set list will change a little bit. We're going to have alternating set lists. Whereas with this tour, we were alternating songs in, just trying them out to see what people like and what people didn't like and then when we found the set list that we have right now, we kind of just started sticking with it because it seemed to work really well. So the next tour will be an alternating A-B-C set list kind of thing.
Andrew: Does that also mean that you will be rotating headline spots for that tour?
Chris: I honestly don't know. I know it's a co-headlining tour, but I don't know who is going to be playing last spot on the bill. It may alternate, it may not. I don't know.
Andrew: You guys are signing CDs on this tour after shows. I believe it's the first time you are doing this with Megadeth. How does that feel?
Chris: It feels really good because now people are presenting me something to sign that I'm a part of, and that's huge for me. So I just appreciate it and all the fans that support it.
Andrew: How was the gig in India last year and how was your experience there?
Chris: Its good that every gig is always kind of different. India was so cool. For me it was one of the highlights just because I toured South America, I played Europe a number of times but India was just so different. I was kind of searching for that. I wanted that. When we got to the venue they had this, I don't even know what it would be called, it was like a traditional Indian dance show for us, as we walk in to the backstage area. Then they chopped the top off some fruit that had coconut juice or something like that. So they went over the top, and the fans were awesome and all of that. So that was great. The only problem with India and some places in South America or something like that, is that the back line gear is always usually a bit of a hassle because its not usually well maintained or something like that. I know that our tech's are always having a nightmare trying to make sure that its up and running. I remember we were touring somewhere in South America and we were playing outside, and it was raining. We were walking up to the stage, which was a built stage. The power cable running to the stage was actually physically like they had spliced the wires, in the rain, with tape! They had them taped together in the rain and stuff and it was just like, really?? Are we going to play this?? There were some of the other things I can't mention, but it was definitely interesting when we played, and it was a good show. Nobody died of being shocked or anything like that!
Andrew: Couple of questions coming from the Megafanclub now. A guy who goes by the name Megajeff wants to ask, how do you maintain a healthy life-style and stay in shape when Megadeth is on the road, traveling to different countries, losing sleep and adjusting to foreign foods? While on the road do you keep a diet and work out schedule to keep in shape?
Chris: Well obviously right here I have my brownie health food right there (laughs) and you know I sit on my ass like 15 hours a day and do nothing. No, but I work out almost obsessively for two hours a day and even if there is no gym or anything like that, one of my favorite things to do is to go to a hotel stairwell and just run stairs. I bring cables with me to do hotel workouts or even on-the-bus workouts. So I do that and as far as eating healthy, I am getting there but I don't eat as well as I could.
Andrew: Of all the great Megadeth guitarists there have been [Jeff Young, Chris Poland, Marty Friedman, Al Pitrelli And Glenn Drover] which styles were the most challenging to learn?
Chris: I mean, they are all challenging in their own way. I would say the most foreign style was actually Poland because he has all these chromatic passing tones within pentatonic's and that's always an area that I have kind of strayed away from, until now. His was challenging in the sense that it was most fundamentally different from what I do. Friedman, his stuff is challenging because he just has this corky vibe in his rhythm sense and stuff like that. Obviously he has got some technique behind his playing too. Drover has got some good technique. When I play 'Washington Is Next' I always make sure that I go over that solo a couple of times before we play it on stage. So that is another technical solo to do. So they are all different in their own way. Its been eye opening for me too [learning their styles] because it only makes me a better player to expand my palette by learning that stuff.
Andrew: Thanks a lot for your time, Chris. We hope that you bring out something special for the last show of this tour!
Chris: Alright! I will do my best.