A titan in Metal and my favorite Birther, Dave Mustaine, came to Saint Paul with his band Megadeth. In support of 2016’s magnificent record Dystopia, Megadeth is wrapping up its North American dates with a swing through Roy Wilkins Auditorium. With him, in what has become almost an annoyance, are 4 support acts. Almost like a traveling mini-fest. Fests, even of the mini ilk, don’t work well on a weeknight.
When I first saw the bill I found the inclusion of Suicidal Tendencies an odd selection. But a good one. I would like to see more diversity on tours. Fewer bands but more diversity. Sole founding member and lead singer Mike Muir should be revered as an innovator. A creator. His lyrical approach, image, and stage presence have all been lifted in one form or another for decades. And he was on his game tonight. He may be in the best shape of his life and delivered a nonstop assault onstage. The only other member of the band I had any familiarity with was former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo who played exactly like you would expect him to. Sadly whoever ran the sound gave less of an effort. It was difficult to understand Mike when he spoke as his voice bounced around the auditorium. And the band just didn’t cut through the horrible mix.
You can’t spend 10 minutes on Blabbermouth without stumbling across a story about Swedish Viking Metallers Amon Amarth. Knowing next to nothing about this band, I was intrigued how they merited the direct support to Megadeth and could fly under my radar. Slamming a 30 foot Viking ship in the middle of the stage was an encouraging sign. I pondered whether or not I found it cheesy. While it has a certain ‘cheese’ to it, it was cool. And they spare no expense on giant fabric backdrops. They changed backdrops more than Lady Gaga changes outfits. The sound was much improved as Amon Amarth delivered Viking Metal so steadfast I found myself drinking Miller Lite from a horn.
Megadeth and their collector of ancient school text books frontman Dave Mustaine. The outspoken and often ridiculous leader of the band left any political leanings in the songs tonight. Which is where they belong at a rock show. My Cobras and Fire co-host and I have had fun with Dave’s never ending endorsement of his current guitarist and drummer against previous ones but I can confirm I have never seen Megadeth better than they were tonight.
Opening the show with “Hangar 18” was only a buzzkill as I really like it paired with “Holy Wars…” but from the beginning of that to the end of the night where they finally found their way back to “Holy Wars…” Megadeth was a spot on metal machine. I would describe it as a precision auditory assault. Dave (Mustaine) delivered his perfect vocal snarl as Dave (Ellefson), Kiko and… drummer? pounded out meticulous musical recreations. The set list leaned heavy on the latest record Dystopia and their 1990 masterpiece Rust In Peace while also finding their way to tracks like “Trust”, “A Tout Le Monde” and of course “Peace Sells…” from other points in their catalog. It would have been nice to see something like “Hook In Mouth” or “In My Darkest Hour” from So Far, So Good, So What, but I can’t really say a complaint about the set.
The stage was a clean set up of elevating scissor lift monitors, steam blasts and even an appearance from Vic Rattlehead. A hazmat crew came out at the beginning to collect the tarp that was stretched across the front of the stage. Then, of course, the band came out with matching sweat cuffs and looked every bit Megadeth.
With his larger than life personality and sometimes larger mouth, it’s easy to forget just how good a guitar player Dave is. And while I would prefer he not believe Barack Obama forged his birth certificate just to become President or that taking Christianity out of schools is done as a way to keep people dumb, it really isn’t an issue as I don’t look to Megadeth for anything but precision speed metal. Which I believe no one does better. And tonight they proved me right. And kudos to Dave for bringing along bands that offered a buffet of hard music.
Support was provided by Metal Church and Butcher Babies.