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Live Review + Photos: Megadeth 2015

Megadeth / Children Of Bodom
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney 18/10/2015
Review & Photos: Peter Zaluzny

Megadeth are a goddamn institution, the kind of band that you encounter pretty early on in your lifelong ride down the heavy metal highway. The kind of band that you hear about from your old brother, your best friend or, god forbid, your parents – because who knew mum and dad could have such good music taste? And although the line-up has rotated through the years, Megadeth have stayed strong and even managed to transcend generations, which made for a diverse crowd at their Sydney show at the Hordern.

Everyone from wide-eyed teens charging into their first show to fathers half-shielding their sons from the tanked up 40-something who hadn’t changed their shirts since Peace Sells landed in ’86. But none of that really mattered because the old-school metal crowd don’t care who you are, as long as you enjoy a good six-minute solo. And beer. You have to love beer.

Finnish melodic metal outfit Children Of Bodom were responsible for opening the show. Not only is frontman Alexi Laiho one of the best guitarists in the world, he’s basically the poster boy for snot-nosed irreverence among legions of heavy metal youngsters. Everything is “fucking this” and “fucking that”, and “how the fuck are you doing” while we smash a fucking beer and sing fucking angry songs. But it’s always fucking fun. While their shows are always technically impressive, the boys tend to come off as a little distant, focusing solely on the music with barely a hint of performance in their show.

Tonight, Bodom emerged with fire in their eyes and a newfound ferocity that shattered the faces of every roaring fan. Circle pits opened up, synths screamed and Laiho held his guitar high, wailing through flawless solo after flawless solo. The boys even managed a bit more movement than usual, particularly Laiho who usually likes to stay in his foldback fort for most of the show.

It really felt like Bodom were eager to whip the crowd into a frenzy with intensely catchy tunes like “Are You Dead Yet?”, “Hate Me” and a few new cuts like “I Hurt”, which seamlessly slid into the set. There’s a second wind rushing through the band at the moment, elevating their already faultless musicianship to ridiculously entertaining heights. Bodom’s music and lyrics have always been downright fun and finally, finally, they put on the performance to match.

There’s been a bit of turbulence in the Megadeth camp as of late, which peaked when two long-term members jumped ship towards the end of last year. But founder and frontman Dave Mustaine always manages to keep on kicking with extraordinary resilience. With giant TV screens behind and a big old lighting rig up top, Mustaine and original bassist David Ellefson were joined by Kiko Loureiro on the six-string and Chris Adler on drums, who was moonlighting from his day gig in Lamb Of God. And maybe it was the new line-up, maybe it was a shared sense of determination, or maybe it was the fact that they were playing their third ever show together – but when Megadeth ran on stage in Sydney, the enthusiasm was palpable.

Like a young band opening the show for their idols, Megadeth were barely able to contain their excitement as they tore through the intro to “Hanger 18”. Mustaine’s grin spread from ear to ear, Loureiro contorted his face into a series of menacing metal stares, Ellefson tried to keep his cool but couldn’t quite hide his enjoyment and Adler… was kind of hard to see behind the wall of drums, but he was probably having a good time too.

It became pretty clear that Mustaine wasn’t bullshitting in interviews: this really was a solid line-up, packing the musicianship and passion to match. And yeah, Dave’s voice ain’t what it used to be, but he’s still got enough bite in his chords to get by, and if you go to a Megadeth show for the singing, then you’re kind of missing the point.

Because when the guys crank up classics like ” Sweating Bullets”, “Wake Up Dead” and “Tornado of Souls”, you know that these shows are about watching heavy metal machines masterfully pull-off crazy complex tunes. Slightly slower tunes including “Trust” and “A Tout Le Monde” provided some respite from the mosh, but strained the voice of thousands as the Hordern joined Mustaine in chorus. “Fatal Illusion”, the sole new tune played from their forthcoming record, Dystopia, went down a treat, as fans gave the track a roaring welcome when Mustaine asked what they thought.

The band was a well-oiled machine, playing off one another’s riffs, stepping up to the front when it was it was time to play a solo, then moving to the back when someone else was leading the charge. No production expense was spared, videos played behind the band during each song, short Megadeth related clips from popular movies popped up every now and then (it turns out Wayne’s World 2 can make an already amazing gig even better). Even a few technical hiccups couldn’t mar the enthusiasm, especially for Mustaine who quipped, “Even if you weren’t having a good time I sure the fuck am” after “Skin O’ My Teeth”.

But nothing, nothing, not even an onstage appearance by band mascot Vic Rattlehead, can top the feeling of watching Mustaine nail the “Holy Wars…” solo before lifting his guitar to the sky, turning at the crowd and letting out an elongated “Yeaaaaahhhh!” It was one of those rare moments where each planet in the heavy metal universe aligned, and everyone was absorbed by the explosive energy of a show hitting an indescribable peak, just moments before it came to a colossal conclusion. Sydney, you were great. They were Megadeth, and it was a very good night.

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