Photographs by Lee-Ann Wylie
In the world of Heavy Metal music there have been many who will be remembered forever, whether it’s for their sound, or lyrics, or compositions, or even for the way they looked. Among those, there are fewer bands who, beside all the aforementioned elements, pushed the envelope of the certain genre and took the whole style with them to a place where no one has gone before. In the front line of those successful few, there are even fewer bands and artists who not only pushed the limits of their genres, but also stayed at the top the game longer than anybody, including their fans and crew, could ever predict. These selected few are usually recognized with their platinum albums, awards and sold-out stadium shows, yet the most important part of who they really are, at least to me, is their history. Megadeth, being one of the main three Thrash Metal elites (the other two being Metallica and Slayer) since the golden chaotic era of early to mid 80’s, is the band who’s catalog is a pillar where the entire style of music is built upon. Starting as a revenge strategy, Megadeth has been representing one of the greatest artistic-philosophically political minds of the era, Dave Mustaine, who turned his first professional disappointment into one of the most successful bands in the 20th century. Megadeth was back in Toronto with Gigantour, a personal project by Dave Mustaine to keep the treasured combination of Metal music, mixed with technical guitar playing, alive and kicking.
Following the performance by this year’s line-up, Newsted, Hellyeah, Device, and Black Label Society, Megadeth stepped on the stage of Molson Canadian Amphitheatre at exactly 9:10PM, as the headliner of the 5th Gigantour, to perform for the packed venue of passionate enthusiasts and hardcore metal-heads. Starting with Trust from Cryptic Writings, Megadeth kicked off the unique one hour twenty minutes ride of the best songs from the 14-albums catalogs, including some of the most well known, legendary albums in the history of Metal music, such as Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?, Rust in Peace, Countdown to Extinction and Youthanasia. Followed by one of my all time favorites, Hangar 18, Megadeth once again executed the precision in performance, first established by the third and perhaps the most successful line-up, featuring Marty Friedman and Nick Menza, among all the other line-ups that Megadeth has gone through.
Guided through Hangar 18, with some of the greatest guitar solos ever written in the world of Metal music, the fans were given Wake Up Dead (from Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?), In My Darkest Hour (from So Far, So Good… So What!), Sweating Bullets and Skin o’ My Teeth (from Countdown to Extinction). Then, it was time for an all-time classic, A Tout Le Monde, an extremely personal song written by Mustaine after one, and perhaps the most serious, of his near death experiences. Surrounded in the warm, red spotlight, Chris Broderick, Megadeth’s current guitar player since 2008, began by playing the iconic opening riff of the song. And then it was Mustaine:
You know this song, right?
Reassured by his devoted fans, he began:
Don’t remember where I was
I realized life was a game
The more seriously I took things The harder the rules became
I had no idea what it’d cost
My life passed before my eyes
I found out how little I accomplished All my plans denied
All the way to the last chorus of the song, emotionally accompanied by the entire crowd:
A tout le monde
A tout mes amis
Je vous aime
Je dois partir
These are the last words I’ll ever speak
and they’ll set me free
One of the most successful accomplishments of certain Metal bands, Metallica and Megadeth in specific, has been the ability to attract just about as many female fans, as the long-haired tattooed males, to their unique blend of aggressive, heavy, yet deeply emotional music. Before performing the next song, Dave Mustaine “couldn’t help but noticing” the number of girls in the crowd. Confirmed by them, he began playing She-Wolf (from Cryptic Writings), a song about the girls, and I think also about the feminine side of the existence.
Continuing the show, Megadeth played two songs from their latest album, Super Collider:
Kingmaker, followed by Dance in the Rain, in which the band was joined by Device’s singer, David Draiman.
Megadeth then continued the show with a Thin Lizzy cover, Cold Sweat, which was followed by perhaps the most historic performance of the tour, if not all Gigantours. Although it would be repeating an already-well-known to the hardcore fans, I think it’s essential to go through little bit of history for those who aren’t as familiar with the pre-Megadeth history of Dave Mustaine, just so they can grasp the magnitude of what happened next:
From 1981 to 1983, Dave Mustaine was the lead guitar player of Metallica, and even more, he was practically the front man of the band, doing all the talking between the songs to fill up for then shy singer, James Hetfield. Then in 1983, he was kicked out (not my words) of the band. They literally woke him up in the bus and told him you’re out. “No warning? No second chance?” were the last words of Dave Mustaine before getting dropped at a bus station. And that was the end of Metallica for Dave Mustaine. During those two years between 81 and 83, Mustaine wrote couple of songs with Metallica, four of which ended up in Metallica’s first album, Kill ‘Em All, which was released in 1983, after Mustaine was gone …
Fast forward to 2003, Jason Newsted, Metallica’s bass player of 16 years, quite the band. The action started a chaos which eventually resulted in the bass replacement, and a documentary, titled Some Kind of Monster.
Now, back to Sunday night at Moslon Canadian Amphitheatre at the last night of the 5th Gigantour:
Dave Mustaine invited Jason Newsted, who earlier performed with his band, Newsted, as the first act of the night, on the stage to perform “something so precious” for the first time, in 30 years. Through the cheers, screams and excitement of the fans, Jason Newsted joined Megadeth to sing Phantom Lord, originally released in Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All. All I can say is, that it seemed more like one of my teenage dreams, perhaps one of the craziest, rarest experiences I’ve ever had in my life, and I was just happy and grateful to be a part of it.
After the song was over, Dave Mustaine hugged Jason Newsted. “Jason fucking Newsted!” was what he said, which was followed by Newsted’s “MEGADETH! MEGADETH! MEGADETH! MEGADETH!” before leaving the stage.
Megadeth finished the set with yet two more classics, Symphony of Destruction (from Countdown to Extinction) and Peace Sells (from Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?), just to come back for the encore, Holy Wars… The Punishment Due (from Rust in Peace), Megadeth’s best kept for last. The iconic song was ended with Dave Mustaine’s legendary guitar solo, along with the final words of the night:
Next thing you know, they’ll take my thoughts away
I know what I said, now I must scream of the overdose And the lack of mercy killings
And the show was over, and the band left the stage with Silent Scorn, which became Megadeth’s farewell song ever since it was released in 2001.
The great performance ability, musicianship, video projections, lighting and sound aside, what Dave Mustaine has offered his fans and followers for the past 30 years, is a new perspective of life from the point of view of the persistent man who constantly, and against all odds, turned shit into gold and made opportunities out of difficulties. I have nothing but utter respect for Dave Mustaine and Megadeth.
Thanks to Live Nation for media access.