|» Megadeth 2008 02 24||
It is a rather widespread view that Megadeth is not the most entertaining of live acts. Lack of charisma, a somewhat stiff approach and poor vocals are among the things usually put forward to support such an account. At the Brixton Academy, however, the thrash legends refute such claims by delivering a vibrant, high-class performance which generates an ecstatic reception from the audience.
Half a decade ago, the future of Megadeth was uncertain. Two disappointing albums, Risk and The World Is A Hero, had seen the band lose momentum. Then, in 2002, band leader Dave Mustaine injured a nerve in his arm. Unable to play the guitar, he announced his departure from the scene, leaving Megadeth in hiatus. To add to the problems, Mustaine fell out with basist and co-founder Dave Ellefson over financial issues. Having made a successful recovery, Mustaine returned with a new line-up in 2004, releasing The System Has Failed in the same year. Displaying a definitive return to form, the album was followed up last year with the equally impressive United Abominations. Additionally, the annual, highly successful tour package Gigantour (initiated by Mustaine, it features various established acts, with Megadeth as the headliners) has regained much credibility for the band.
In fact, this tour of the British Isles is called Gigantour UK 2008, but it can be argued that this is simply an attempt to get more exposure. Support this time comes from Evile and Job For A Cowboy, two newcomers to the scene. The former outfit's debut album; Enter The Grave; has created a buzz in the metal press, and the youngsters succeed well in getting the crowd going, delivering a forceful 30-minute set of old school thrash metal. Their American colleagues Job For A Cowboy, however, fail to produce the same response, despite an energetic effort. A disturbingly muddy sound, which drenches the guitars completely, turns their brutal but rather mediocre mix of death metal and metalcore into an at times unbearable cacophony of noise.
Well before Megadeth enter the stage, the atmosphere inside the venue is lively, with the crowd singing along to the classic tunes by Iron Maiden, Ozzy and Pantera which are blasting from the sound system. Indeed, one can feel the sense of anticipation inside Brixton Academy, and it's safe to assume that the younger generation present, especially, is eager to witness the metal icon Mustaine and his cohorts in action. The opening number Sleepwalker goes down a storm, with the ginger-haired front man running onto the stage alone to hammer out the opening riff, accompanied by excited roars.
Then follows an exhilarating trio of thrash metal classics: Wake up Dead, Take No Prisoners and Skin O´ My Teeth are executed with a relentless intensity, leaving the crowd gasping for air. Unfortunately, the volume is a bit low, but this is soon taken care of. Mustaine announces that because of a curfew, the talking will be kept to a minimum. Newer numbers like Kick The Chair and Washington Is Next definitely hold their own in the set, although the inclusion of Never Walk Alone as an encore is an odd move which does not work out very well. Otherwise, most of the band's hits are played, and the crowd sing-along during A Tout Le Monde as well as the immense anthem Peace Sells is just wonderful to behold.
Without doubt, the spectators' enthusiasm rubs off on the band members; it certainly shows that they are enjoying themselves on stage. New guitarist Chris Broderick looks very comfortable, and shines when he lays down one solo after another with perfect ease. Basist James Lomenzo is constantly bouncing around with a smile on his face, and Shawn Drover is steady as a rock behind the drums. Main man Mustaine, meanwhile, is clearly inspired, being anything but static tonight. Displaying some blistering guitar work and furious headbanging, he proves that he can still thrash with the best of them. At the same time, the born-again Christian comes across as a man more at peace with himself these days, being visibly moved by the response from the audience. As the last man to leave the stage, sincerely thanking the fans, he receives a thunderous ovation. Being a man who has certainly experienced setbacks in his career and personal life - albeit often self-inflicted - he deserves the praise. Judging from this performance, his brainchild Megadeth still has a lot to offer, not only on record but in a live setting as well.
8,5 chalices of 10
(Evile 6,5/10 - Job For A Cowboy 3/10)