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Megadeth's Gigantour Brings Brotherly Love to The Rave/Eagles Ballroom
It was hot and muggy in Milwaukee Friday night, but inside it was nothing but mind melting metal within the Rave/Eagles Club. Megadeth's Gigantour soldiers on in to its fifth year and this marks their fifth consecutive stop in Milwaukee. It's a tour so big, that it was split in to two areas of the venue. This year in The Rave Hall you had "super groups" Device Hellyeah, Newsted, and special guests Death Division. While in the Eagles Ballroom, you had co-headliners Black Label Society and then headliner, Megadeth. Even though the show started early, fans were already fueled up and ready to thrash to kick their weekend off right.
Opening band Death Division hit the stage with authority. The band pounded out thunderous rhythms and caked the crowd in their sludgy guitar riffs. Death Division was a relentless beast and hammered out each song without hesitation, not even if it meant bassist Jerry Montano losing a boot. Though the crowd wasn't familiar with the band, everyone was more than satisfied after seeing what Death Division had to offer.
After a short break down, and set up, legendary bassist Jason Newsted and his solo project; properly named Newsted, took the stage. By this time the Rave was packed, and the crowd chanted "Newsted!" until he arrived on stage. As Newsted stood in front of the mic, a thunderous roar filled the room as they greeted the magnificent bassist. "That felt really fucking good." Newsted said as they rolled in to "Twisted Tail of the Comet". Unfortunately the set was filled with sound problems, and a visibly frustrated Newsted seemed all too preoccupied yelling at his crew back stage. Despite this, the crowd was having an insanely good time, and eventually Newsted was smiling ear to ear. "I appreciate every one of you", he said. "This is probably your first time hearing this stuff, and it's our first time playing a lot of new material and it's great to see you guys going wild." Newsted ended his set with "Whiplash", and old Metallica song from their debut record.
"This is Milwaukee Wisconsin. I've played here for ten years, and I know this isn't 100%." Exclaimed Chad Gray; as the front man stood defiantly center stage. "I need you to give it your all Milwaukee." And they did. The Rave turned in to a tornado of bodies during Hellyeah's set. Gray performed exceptionally well (I've always been a fan of his vocals) as he jumped from riser to riser engaging his blood curdling howls. Vinnie Paul provided a southern groove to compliment the ferocious assault of guitarists Tom Maxwell and Greg Tribbett. Hellyeah belted out a flurry of hit songs like "Band of Brothers", "You Wouldn't Know" and ended their set with fan favorite "Hellyeah" creating a free for all in The Rave as if the crowd was never going to see another concert again.
Upstairs in the Ballroom was the meat and potatoes of the tour. As soon as the lights went down, a tornado siren filled the ballroom signaling anyone who was ready to rock to quickly run towards the center of the ballroom. Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society need no introduction. They're one of the most respected metal bands on the planet and rightfully so. Wylde stood front and center as guitar distortion rang through the wall of guitar cabinets lining the back of the stage. Wylde was a man of little words, instead he opted to play mind bending guitar solos, one lasting nearly ten minutes. Guitarist Nick Catanese and bassist John DeServio were both precise and aggressive and they head banged and marched their way back and forth on stage. The axe-men would often engage the crowd and fist bump the lucky fans that were up against the guard rail.
Though Black Label's set was just about an hour in length, it seemed all too short. They ended their set with a lot of muscle with songs "Suicide Messiah", "Concrete Jungle", and "Stillborn". During which all three songs crowd surfers looked as if they were human sacrifices being handed over to guitar god Zakk Wylde.
It wasn't too long before Megadeth hit the stage. Their production consisted of three giant LED screens that amped up the crowd. A short clip played before the word "MEGADETH" dominated the back screen and each band member ran on stage and jumped in to "Trust". The band is out promoting their newest release "Super Collider" which was represented with a few tracks in the set, but Dave and company made sure that the show would be an even spread. The set was a great mix of early and new hits spanning their illustrious career. The crowd went berserk during one of the improvised solo's Mustaine ripped out during "Wake Up Dead".
Front man Dave Mustaine is known as being politically charged and isn't afraid to get a little preachy onstage. This can usually go either way during a show, it can be used to get a great emotional response from the crowd, but if you rant too much it can definitely ruin a performance. Luckily, Mustaine used this to his advantage addressing recent revelations about U.S. government surveillance on its citizens. "I told you so." Remarked Mustaine with a smirk on his face.
The rest of the band was exemplary putting emphasis on the music. David Ellefson and Chris Broderick wielding their instruments high in the air, and often meeting drummer Shawn Drover in the middle of the stage to jam out. While Mustaine graced each side of the stage, contorting his fingers to pulverize the necks of each fan as he shredded his way through "Hanger 18" and "Symphony of Destruction".
Another enormous surprise was the addition of a video camera that fixated on the band during the show. This was great for those that weren't up near the stage, and provided a great cinematic view of the band as it panned the stage and got in close on Mustaine's signature scowl.
Before the night was over, the band played a welcomed cover of Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat" and then followed it up with "Peace Sells", providing a great juxtaposition of what they've done with their career. But the night wasn't over until the Ballroom was turned in to a desolate war zone. The bands encore came in the form of "Holy Wars" and when all was said and done, Dave and the rest of the band applauded the worn crowd for sticking it out in the uncomfortable heat. The band took a bow, and as usual Mustaine exclaimed, "You've been great! We've been Megadeth!"
Megadeth Set List
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
A Tout Le Monde
Symphony of Destruction
Cold Sweat (Thin Lizzy cover)
Holy Wars…The Punishment Due
- Keith Gasper