March 31, 2010
The Hollywood Palladium
After the American Carnage Tour with Slayer was postponed due to Tom Araya’s back surgery (See them tour with Megadeth this summer), metal heads didn’t have to wait long to see the mighty Megadeth on the road, this time performing Rust In Peace, of which the band is celebrating the 20 anniversary of that seminal album’s release. Testament added to the metal madness by performing their debut thrash metal masterpiece The Legacy and to top it all off we got the insanely heavy Exodus to start the night. On the last night of the tour the bands were all in fine form and the audience filed in with many going straight to the front of the stage. I haven’t seen so many crowd surfers in a long time, with a good many girls getting thrown in the air. Most everyone was in good spirits with a minimum of jostling from sweaty guys barreling into the circle pits.
Exodus began the night with some of the heaviest metal these ears have been punished with. The SF Bay area band was on the frontlines of the Thrash/Speed Metal explosion and for this tour they stuck to their 80’s material with the exception of War is My Shepherd from their brutal last studio album Tempo of the Damned. Eardrums started to ring for the early arrivers from the opening of Bonded by Blood’s insane tempo changes to Fabulous Disaster’s chanted vocals and double guitar leads to the obligatory Toxic Waltz. Rob Dukes’ imposing physical presence was balanced by his friendly exhortations to get in the pit and his vocals added a modern element to the early songs’ yelped vocals. Gary Holt was all smiles slinging his guitar from one end of the stage to the other and Tom Hunting kept those drum sticks flying like he was still a teen when the band started.
Testament was up next, Chuck Billy getting fans’ fists and metal horns raised, bodies started to fly into the photo pit and as fast as the security could grab them the kids ran right back into the masses to crowd surf again. And that was Glen Drover on guitar, filling in for Alex Skolnick who is playing with Trans-Siberian Orchestra this year. Glen was last seen playing with Megadeth with brother and MD drummer Shawn. He sounded great, adding his nimble guitar playing to the classic The Legacy album. The whole band played with intensity, as they were certainly the fastest band of the three on the bill. Billy’s vocals were outstanding and easy to scream along with, giving the big man plenty of time to play his mic stand along to the dueling guitars of Drover and Testament founder Eric Peterson. I joked with Highwire Daze Ken that if the band thought they’d be playing these songs 30 years later they might have written some slower numbers, to which we just laughed knowingly. The band will be playing this fast until they die! Another Bay Area band influenced heavily by the NWOBHM, Testament kept their sound spare with lightning tempos and blazing guitar work, some of the songs sounding like early Metallica or Megadeth with their punk edge and metal heaviness.
After giving us some time for a smoke, a drink or simply to towel off Megadeth opened their set with Skin O’ My Teeth from 92’s Countdown to Extinction, followed by In My Darkest Hour, an evil little ditty from second album So Far, So Good…So What! and She-Wolf, then leader Dave Mustaine came back to center stage and said “We all know what we’re here for!” The band tore into Rust in Peace lead-off track Holy Wars…The Punishment Due like two decades hadn’t passed since the album’s release. Original bassist David Ellefson was back in the fold, laying down the groundwork for Mustaine and new guitarist Chris Broderick to shred their six-strings like rabid dogs. Shawn Drover’s drumming was so booming the speakers were struggling to replicate the double bass drums’ low end. Mustaine has found a perfect foil in Broderick because this guy can really play all the intricate solos and rhythms Mustaine and former guitarists have written. It was a thrill seeing the band perform Rust In Peace song to song, from the futuristic harmonized dual guitars of Hangar 18, to the lyrics of Take No Prisoners getting yelled at top volume by the sold-out Palladium crowd: “Don’t ask what you can do for your country/ Ask what your country can do for you/ Take no prisoners, take no shit!” to the push and pull of Five Magics to super-fast Poison Was The Cure and the neck-snapping change-ups of Lucretia. Album closer Rust In Peace…Polaris is still a live staple and tonight was played with extra intensity. By now Mustaine had his shirt open, sweat dripping, smiling at the audience, confident we’d got what we wanted growling with relish lines like “I am nuclear murderer I am Polaris” and “Launch the Polaris, the end doesn’t scare us/ When will this cease/ The warheads will all rust in peace”. Mustaine is a commentator, a satirist, an entertainer and a man, but up on stage this night he was a Metal God, throwing his guitar waves on our ears, and with Ellefson, Broderick and Drover inciting us to action and leaving us worn out and excited to be alive.
But the set wasn’t over yet! The pop song Trust was a chance for the true metal heads to take a bathroom break and catch their breath. Endgame’s Right To Go Insane and Headcrusher followed. Symphony Of Destruction got the kids singing along “Just like the Pied Piper led rats through the streets/ Dance like marionettes, swaying to the symphony…of destruction”. The set ended with Peace Sells, Mustaine singing for the common man, questioning “Can you put a price on peace? And “If there’s a new way, I’ll be the first in line/ But it better work this time,” amongst dueling guitar solos that dazzled the ears and kept heads banging. Megadeth exited the stage after an instrumental return to Holy Wars, Mustaine saying “You’ve been great, we’ve been Megadeth,” as the band bowed to their adoring and wiped out fans. Highwire Daze will see you all August 30th at the Long Beach arena for the American Carnage tour! For now, enjoy Ken’s photos from the Palladium.
(Review by Bret Miller – Photos by Kenneth Morton)