Review by Chris Epting • Photos by Kimberly Annette
ANAHEIM, CA, Dec. 17—You have to give Dave Mustaine a lot of credit. He was a rock-n-roll survivor before the term became a cliché, and over the last decade or so, his face has become chiseled into our collective psyches where he lives and reigns today as one of the true icons—someone who belongs on the metallic version of Mount Rushmore.
By shaping and crafting his band Megadeth the way he has over the years, he’s not only kept the concept fresh, but also relevant. Megadeth gigs today transcend the typical concert experience and often become something memorable, and even historic.
So what better way to kick off the holidays than by checking out the show at the Anaheim Grove the week before Christmas?
The house was packed with plenty of black-clad revelers who were anxious to hoist the devil horns. After solid sets by Nonpoint and Fear Factory, Megadeth took over just after 10pm with an impressive version of “Hangar 18,” which has become a thoroughly reliable opener.
At this stage of the game, Mustaine clearly knows what the crowd wants, and he dishes it out in thick and satisfying musical slabs. “In My Darkest Hour,” “Sweating Bullets” and “Tornado of Souls” (among many others) are played with the sort of brutal efficiency that has become the band’s trademark.
And, of course, Megadeth is more than just Dave Mustaine. Bassist Dave Ellefson, drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick all combine to not only create a fitting framework for their vaunted frontman, but also to carve out some jaw-dropping musical grooves of their own.
Mustaine, fresh off an appearance on the “Jimmy Kimmel” show, seemed a bit ragged at first, and even took an unexplained short break about a third of the way through the set. But he stormed back after that and from that point on, it was damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead.
Barreling through “Symphony of Destruction” and “Peace Sells,” then it was time for the encore, which featured blistering versions of “Rattlehead” and “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.”
Watching Megadeth today, it’s hard not to marvel at Mustaine when you think about the course of his life. From that scrawny kid in the embryonic version of Metallica to the blonde-locks-flowing-rock-god that he has become, he remains in a league of his own, as does this band. Megadeth still knows how to thrill fans with old-school metal, while always managing to look ahead, both live and on record.
If they are ever anywhere near your town, we cannot recommend the show enough. Whether you’re a metalhead or not, at the end of the day, this is a rock-n-roll band that owes as much to Zeppelin and Deep Purple as it does to Black Sabbath. And they only seem to know how to over-deliver.