City National Civic, San Jose
September 29, 2016
All photos by Raymond Ahner.
Thrash metal icons Megadeth brought their high energy stage show to the City National Civic on Thursday night, ripping through a balanced set that included plenty of old classics along with new songs from their latest release, Dystopia.
The band opened up with the epic Hanger 18 off of the Rust in Piece album, a track that is regarded as one of Megadeth’s best songs. It is easy to see why: the song twists through over 5 minutes of intricate playing; featuring many technically demanding and dazzling guitar solos from Kiko Loureiro, who had no trouble in nailing his parts. Coupled with a strong vocal performance from front man Dave Mustaine this really set the tone for the whole night, much to the delight of all the fans in attendance.
Next up was the first of many tracks from Dystopia; The Threat is Real, which relied on plenty of ferocious riffage and an interesting use of the video screens behind the band, which projected the animated music video that was made for the song. The backdrop itself consisted of a gigantic screen directly behind the drum riser along with a few smaller screens that flanked the drum set, all of it made to look like some rusted post-apocalyptic piece of machinery.
Following this Megadeth tore into one of their most endearing and beloved songs, the mighty Tornado of Souls. Mustaine dedicated the song to recently deceased ex-Megadeth drummer Nick Menza, who had played on the original recording. The inspired performance of the song was one of the highlights of the night: proving that this new lineup is just as capable as any other in the band’s long history. The track is driven by a harmonically dense guitar part from Mustaine, over which he bellows some vicious vocals. The song twists through a couple of complex changes before the musically demanding guitar solo begins. Originally played by former member Marty Friedman, Loureiro had no issue in effortlessly matching his predecessors’ technical brilliance on the piece, delivering a captivating solo that enraptured the crowd.
The band continued to alternate old and new material during the next few songs, which helped to show that Dystopia can stand up to all of the old classics from the Megadeth back catalogue. It was around mid-way through the set that they rolled out the drum and bass oriented Dawn Patrol, which gave bassist David Ellefson a chance to demonstrate his considerable technical chops.
This lead into a perfect segue for the bass driven intro of another Rust in Piece classic, Poison Was the Cure. The track was propelled by an impressive performance from recent addition Dirk Verbeuren (formally of Soilwork) who had no trouble handling the intense speed and complex rhythmic patterns on the song. Directly after this the band played the fan favorite Sweating Bullets, which featured some of Mustaine’s best vocals of the whole night.
A few songs later the band closed out the main part of the set with the iconic Symphony of Destruction, a hard driving track that was enhanced by the images from the classic music video playing in the background.
After a brief offstage break, Ellefson returned to play the intro to Peace Sells, signaling the audience to pump their fists in the air and bang their heads as the rest of the band came in. The crowd sang along to nearly every word, seeming to get louder and more boisterous as the song continued.
Finally, the band finished out the evening with the obligatory closer, Holy Wars…The Punishment due, which Mustaine introduced with a short speech about how the lyrical content of the song was influenced by an experience the band had in Ireland, where Mustaine had erroneously gotten the band caught up in the war between the Irish government and the IRA.
Holy Wars once again featured an immense collection of musically dense pieces from the entire band and really ended the show on a high note, showing that the newest version of the band is equally as hard-hitting and versatile as any of the other previous lineups (of which there have been many), and proving that Megadeth will continue to be a force in the metal community for many more years.
Amon Amarth tore through a brief but powerful set of their trademark Viking metal, with a giant Viking longship taking up most of the stage as well as the drum riser. The band unleashed their punishing assault by opening with the majestic Twilight of the Thunder God, an epic track featuring blistering double bass drumming to complement its high speed guitar attack all while singer Johan Hegg bellowed out his ferocious style of vocals.
The band alternated between older and newer songs throughout the set, with one of the highlights coming in the form of the mid-set stunner, First Kill. The lead single off of their latest release, Jomsviking, the song contains some of Hegg’s most impressive vocals set to a dense web of interlocking guitar figures from Johan Söderberg and Olavi Mikkonen.
The group closed out their set with the traditional toast, in which each member of the band thanks the audience while drinking from a large horn before playing the aptly titled Raise Your Horns. The song features an anthemic and rousing chorus in which all the band members as well as the audience sing along in grand fashion. It provided the perfect moment to end the set on and got a wild ovation from the audience.
Check out this slideshow with more photos of Megadeth and Amon Amarth by Raymond Ahner:
Setlist: Hangar 18 | The Threat Is Real | Tornado of Souls | Poisonous Shadows | Wake Up Dead | In My Darkest Hour | Conquer or Die! | Fatal Illusion | She-Wolf | Dawn Patrol | Poison Was the Cure | Sweating Bullets | A Tout Le Monde | Trust | Post American World | Dystopia | Symphony of Destruction || Peace Sells | Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
For more information about Megadeth, check out their website.
Setlist: Twilight of the Thunder God | The Pursuit of Vikings | As Loke Falls | First Kill | The Way of Vikings | Death in Fire | Varyags of Miklagaard | Deceiver of the Gods | Raise Your Horns
Find out more about Amon Amarth on their website.