Live Review: Megadeth, Volbeat "Gigantour" 2012 — Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City
Mon, 27 Feb 2012 07:18:05
Megadeth certainly knows how to please a crowd.
When it rolled through the sold out Gibson Amphitheatre on Friday, the legendary group's Gigantour kept the audience's collective horns in the air for nearly five hours of unadulterated, unrestrained metallic bliss. Whether it was the ethereal goth rock of Lacuna Coil or Motörhead's beer-soaked punk metal bitch slap, Gigantour provided a veritable sonic roller coaster for fans.
Megadeth ripped through a headlining set that was nothing short of triumphant, highlighting classics and hidden gems spanning their thirteen albums. A curtain covered the stage just before Dave Mustaine and co. arrived. Suddenly, a spotlight shone on drummer Shawn Drover as he began pounding out the immortal tribal groove at the beginning of "Trust" from Cryptic Writings.
The beat built while bassist Dave Ellefson anchored a snaky bass line punctuated by atmospheric riffing from Chris Broderick. The song's hook kicked in, and the curtain dropped to reveal Mustaine center stage masterfully shredding on a double neck guitar. The singer sounded flawless on the song's verse as he ignited a massive applause. "Trust" set the building ablaze with the explosive chemistry emanating from the four men on stage. As everything broke into the dreamy, acoustic bridge, the frontman meticulously wove acoustic folk a la Led Zeppelin into the center of this thrash epic. It was an a propos beginning to the unforgettable show to follow.
Mustaine stalked the stage intensely during "Foreclosure of a Dream" from Countdown to Extinction as Broderick made jaws hit the floor with his virtuosity. The guitarist remains the perfect counterpoint to Mustaine, never missing a note and brandishing a technicality that inspires kids to pick up the instrument. During "Sweating Bullets," Mustaine lit up an incendiary solo of his own as lights flashed schizophrenically along with his vocals.
"À Tout le Monde (Set Me Free)" brought Lacuna Coil frontwoman Cristina Scabbia center stage for a hypnotic duet with Mustaine. Broderick's fleet-fingered virtuosity served as the backdrop to Scabbia and Mustaine's crooning. The audience roared upon the song's completion as Mustaine smiled, "I love you guys so much. It's so good to be home."
The love spread via "Head Crusher" with its flurry of soloing and thrashing. From the group's most recent album, Th1rt3en, "Public Enemy No.1" elicited cheers on par with "Symphony of Destruction"—a testament to the inherent power of Megadeth's new material. Meanwhile, other new cuts "Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)" and "Guns, Drugs, & Money" remained modern metal anthems in their own right. The intensity hit a highpoint during "She-Wolf" which Mustaine declared, "This song is unfortunately about an ex-wife of an ex-manager of mine."
Teeth bared, "Peace Sells" and "Holy Wars… The Punishment Due" served as the perfect finale to a masterful set.
Earlier in the evening, Volbeat kept the crowd on its toes seamlessly swinging from thrash to metal to country to rockabilly—sometimes all within the space of the same song. That natural diversity solidifies the Danish dynamos as the most irresistible and intriguing band in modern hard rock.
As frontman Michael Poulsen bellowed "Let's get ready to rumble", the group's #1 Active Rock radio hit, "A Warrior's Call" from their latest album Beyond Hell/Above Heaven, shook the Gibson Amphitheatre to life. The song is a timeless anthem propelled by Poulsen's booming baritone and electrifying charisma.
"Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood" jumped from an infectious riff into an even more infectious refrain courtesy of Poulsen. Jon Larsen's massive beats kicked off "The Human Instrument" as Poulsen's six-string theatrics attacked like a great white. "Hallelujah Goat" careened through country and swinging rockabilly topped with a death metal chug for a nice touch. Poulsen never stopped moving, commanding the stage and the entire venue with the power of James Hetfield and the soul of Elvis Presley.
"Who They Are" saw Volbeat brandish its claws as Anders Kjølholm's fired off a mind-numbing bass groove alongside Poulsen's vocal and guitar assault. "The Mirror and the Ripper" bobbed and weaved through musical styles like a prizefighter closing in on a knockout. The frontman's immense vocals soared to the heavens during an incredible performance of "Fallen". Shortly after, he smiled, "It's an honor being here" before launching into a potent "Still Counting."
Everything culminated on a razor sharp rendition of the intro to Slayer's "Raining Blood". The quartet thrashed together as the craziest mosh pit of the night erupted. As the double bass dissipated, Poulsen waved and walked off victorious.
The night not only illuminated Megadeth's immortality, but it evinced just how crucial Volbeat are to the genre at large. The best heavy music is about taking risks and surprising listeners. There was no shortage of risks or surprises, and that's what made the show so goddamn good.
Were you there?
See our review of Th1rt3en here!
See our interview with Chris Broderick here!