Megadeth at the Murat Theater 3-11-10

Exodus, Testament, and the mighty Megadeth. Three of the most important and influential pillars of American Thrash metal, these bands brought a total of over 80 years of heavy metal history into the Circle City for one night. Most modern heavy metal is a direct result of what these bands have put out since the early 1980s. They brought every bit of that experience along with them.

As a fan of heavy metal and most of its many forms and sub-genres, Megadeth’s Rust In Peace (released 1990) is one of my ten “desert island” CDs. Its compositions were far beyond anything that had been done in heavy metal before, combining technical ability with the blinding speed and freight train power that previous thrash bands had perfected.

Imagine my amazement when it was announced that Megadeth would not be touring to support their newest album (Endgame, 2009) but would be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Rust In Peace. Ask any Megadeth fan what his favorite album is, you’ll most likely hear that as the answer. In celebration, the band announced that original bassist David Ellefson was returning to the band after being absent for the recording of the last three albums. Ellefson and vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine were the only part of the lineup that had remained the same from the release of 1985’s Killing Is My Business�And Business Is Good to the tour supporting The World Needs A Hero in 2002. It’s great to see him back

One thing that impressed me about this show more than anything was that it was almost 4 hours long. Very few international touring artists put that much time and effort into their shows and it always makes me feel better about spending the money to see a show if I feel like I’m going to get my money’s worth.

The show opened with Exodus. The only thing most people might possibly know about Exodus is that they are the band that Kirk Hammett was playing with when he was convinced to leave and replace Mustaine as the lead guitarist in Metallica. That’s unfortunate, because they really are an incredible band on their own.

The 45-minute set they played covered most of their career without going all the way back to the beginning. It was good to hear several of the newer, more mature tracks from 2005’s Shovel Headed Kill Machine and The Atrocity Exhibition Exhibit A but was just as great to hear the raw power of their earlier work too. It’s really too bad their sound wasn’t that good. One guitar was just lost in the mix and everything was overpowered by the kick drum. The engineer really dropped the ball on that mix.

Testament was up next, touting this tour as a classic lineup. This marks the return of legendary guitarist Alex Skolnick. Because the lineup dates from about 1983-1992, that was the entirety of the set list. In an interesting turn, the band chose to play ONLY classic material and nothing from their last release The Formation Of Damnation or the three that came before it. That was a mixed bag, since it was great to hear classic Testament but I didn’t get to hear anything from 1999’s The Gathering, another of my desert island albums. The sound was far better for this hour-long set, though still not the best it could have been.

Finally, the Megadeth had landed. One of my favorite bands of all time, I’d seen them before at Riehle Bros in Lafayette back in 2002 when they were supporting The World Needs A Hero. It was a jaw-dropping show then and it was even bigger this time. They opened with some old school tracks, dating all the way back to 1986-88, building up to the start-to-finish performance of Rust In Peace, featuring several songs that have never been performed live prior to this tour. Something interesting to note is that only the single from the most current album was played. The 90-minute set also ended by playing the second half of the opening track to Rust In Peace (The Punishment Due) a second time as the closing song. The entire set list is added at the end you know, in case you’re into that sort of thing.

The energy in the room was intense from the moment the drum set was uncovered and the dual radiation symbols on the kick drums reminded everyone of what it was like when Nick Menza was behind the kit 20 years ago to Mustaine’s final words “You’ve been awesome, we’ve been Megadeth. Goodnight!” The sound was greatly improved once again which was excellent. Finally, we had a great mix and could really appreciate this amazing music for exactly what it is metal at its purest and most exciting.

These bands have been doing it for almost 30 years. I hope they can do it for 30 more.

Like I said before, here’s Megadeth’s complete set list and the album each came from.

Set The World Afire (So Far, So Good, So What?)
Wake Up Dead (Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying?
In My Darkest Hour (So Far, So Good,So What?)

Holy Wars/The Punishment Due
Hangar 18
Take No Prisoners
Five Magics
Poison Was The Cure
Tornado Of Souls
Dawn Patrol
Rust In Peace/Polaris

Head Crusher (Endgame)
Trust (Cryptic Writings)
Symphony Of Destruction (Countdown To Extinction)
Peace Sells (Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying?)
The Punishment Due (Outro)