Three highly-hailed metal veterans played their black hearts out for a packed Hollywood Palladium last Wednesday night. Megadeth, along Testament and Exodus, performed a memorable finale of the Megadeth Rust in Peace 20th Anniversary Tour. Fortunately, this wasn’t a show where the headlining band would draw all the attention. Indescribably, each band outshined the other.
Of course, the much-anticipated event on this stop of the killing road (as in other cities on the tour) was that Megadeth would play the venerated album Rust in Peace in its entirety. Having Testament and Exodus on the bill undoubtedly made this a coveted ticket. This was apparent by the line of black t-shirt-wearing people wrapped around the venue two hours before the doors opened.
Set List: Bonded By Blood / The Last Act Of Defiance / Fabulous Disaster / Piranha / Brain Dead / A Lesson in Violence / War Is My Shepherd / The Toxic Waltz / Strike Of The Beast
Exodus opened the show with the hate-smash-kill classic hit “Bonded by Blood.” Right away the floor started thrashing, much to the delight of singer Rob Dukes, a man known to encourage fans to show loyalty and enthusiasm with violent action. “Piranha” and another Bonded by Blood favorite, “A Lesson in Violence,” kept the audience moving as guitar duo Gary Holt and Lee Altus played their prominent leads and harmonies amid Tom Hunting’s thunderous drumming. Partway into “Strike of the Beast,” the last song of the set, frontman Dukes directed the audience by screaming, “I want everybody over there to kill everybody over here! And I want everybody over here to kill everybody over there!” After Exodus finished their impressive set and left the stage, no stretchers were seen. Not a very obedient group of fans. Amazing set, nonetheless.
Set List: Over The Wall I The Haunting I Burnt Offerings I Raging Waters I Curse Of The Legions Of Death I First Strike Is Deadly I Do Or Die I Alone In The Dark I Apocalyptic City I Intro/D.N.R. I 3 Days In Darkness
Testament is still riding high on 2008’s Formation of Damnation, but scratched those songs for this tour, opting to play The Legacy album from start to finish. As drummer Paul Bostaph stepped behind his kit the place went berserk. The rest of the band moved into their positions and then ripped into “Over the Wall.” Singer Chuck Billy seemed to take control of the place by his presence alone. He interacted with his audience during and between songs, smiling nearly all the way through. Ex-Megadeth guitarist Glenn Drover filled in for the absent Alex Skolnick, and played well, but looked almost sedate at times. Seasoned guitarist Eric Peterson, by comparison, moved about the stage with youthful energy, like taking ownership of a band he started in the first place. “Do or Die” was dedicated to the U.S. troops by Billy and was followed by “Alone in the Dark” with eager audience participation. The Legacy set closed with “Apocalyptic City” and a couple surprises (“D.N.R.” and “3 Days in Darkness”) from The Gathering record, ended the set. Testament gave the fans, particularly those who like the old school of thrash stuff, a great show.
Set List: Skin O’ My Teeth / In My Darkest Hour / She Wolf / Holy Wars / Hangar 18 / Take No Prisoners / Five Magics / Poison Was The Cure / Lucretia / Tornado Of Souls / Dawn Patrol / Rust In Peace…Polaris / Trust / The Right To Go Insane / Head Crusher / Symphony Of Destruction / Peace Sells / Holy Wars (reprise)
The Megadeth set would be captured on cameras atop a few photographers’ shoulders, overhead booms and other necessary apparatuses for a live DVD of the band’s performance in Los Angeles, the city where it all started for the band. This, along with an obligation to upstage the previous bands’ sets, was another reason for Megadeth to rip the joint apart.
When Megadeth took the stage, an exuberant Dave Ellefson was applauded from fans--many who might have never expected that the bassist would be back in the band he and singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine started back in ‘83. Ellefson, along with new guitarist Chris Broderick (Nevermore, Jag Panzer), drummer Shawn Drover, and Mustaine had the audience captive before noise flew out of the amplifiers. They drew first blood with “Skin of My Teeth,” a technically demanding song that gave Broderick free range to show his choppers displaying a tone and style that complemented Mustaine’s leads and rhythmic attack. The volume and balance of sound was exquisite. “In My Darkest Hour” unified the band and audience with a taste of nostalgia. A vicious “She Wolf” was the last “warm-up” song before the main event: Rust in Peace. In a gravelly, road-worn voice, Mustaine rasped, “You all know why we’re here, right?” Then “Holy Wars” began: the first song of an album revered by metalheads worldwide. After the unmistakable guitar intro, Ellefson and Drover volleyed percussive blasts of bass and drums, setting the tempo and cage-rattling bottom for Mustaine and Broderick to express their prowess. The working chemistry between the four members was apparent at the beginning of the show, and “Hangar 18” sealed the fact. The rest of the album was played masterfully and with a new flair. The guitar harmony and instrumental fusion on “Rust in Peace…Polaris” was stupendous. After “The Right to Go Insane” and “Head Crusher,” both off of last year’s Endgame release, came “Symphony of Destruction.” The audience had already started its da-da-da da-da-da mimicry before a shirtless and sweaty Mustaine could say “You take a mortal man…” Dave Ellefson took the microphone, sharing that many years ago he and Mustaine had started their band just blocks away from where we were all standing. Then the chugging, unmistakably Ellefson, bass intro to “Peace Sells” began. And it was glorious. So far, (still) so good.