Dave Mustaine's Smaller Gigantour 2008 Returns Strongly
Band Photo: Children of Bodom (?)
The Bell Center is a pretty good venue in terms of size and sound quality, but for those of us who weren’t able to buy ground tickets before they sold out, the seats were a bit lame. I don’t want to complain, but the bands were really far away – you try headbanging from the stands with five inches of standing room without bashing into the people standing nearly on top of you.
On the other hand, the people-watching in the large arena was excellent, particularly because Megadeth tends to draw metal fans as well as metalheads. By this, I refer to the hordes of young teenage boys flocking to the over-priced merchandise stands to don $40 Megadeth tees as their girlfriends went about in whatever Hot Topic is peddling to the angsty-girl demographic these days. On the opposite end of the spectrum, overweight middle-aged men guzzled down expensive beer and sat in their seats looking bewildered until Megadeth came on. Before I become too disparaging of the crowd, however, I am compelled to note that the enormous pit where people are typically embroiled in hockey battling looked like a great deal of fun from where I was sitting.
Anyhow, I’m ashamed to report that I missed the bulk of High On Fire’s set, as apparently the show started right on time or a bit early. The last couple of songs were excellent though, vastly different from the bands they were accompanying, yet a fine performance of their characteristic stoner metal, sticking primarily with “Death Is This Communion.”
Job For A Cowboy was mediocre. Obviously, fans will disagree, but my complete boredom with this band prompted me to do laps around the stadium and buy a ten dollar beer, so that should convey my level of appreciation for deathcore. I appreciate that they were trying to put forth their own style of brutality, yet it came across as very misdirected and mainly failed to impress.
Then, mercifully, Children Of Bodom appeared and riled up the masses with their raw Finnish metal, taking the stage by loading the “Sixpounder.” Alexi Laiho carried the energy of the band, leaping about and appropriately selecting those songs which would enable him to be constantly swearing, like “Lil’ Bloodred Riding Hood” and “Hate Me.”
“Living Dead Beat” was an obligatory Bodom anthem, giving Janne Warman and his keys a little more spotlight, and Laiho made another great choice to get “In Your Face” from the “Are You Dead Yet?” beats that launch fans back to the Hate Crew days. “Angels Don’t Kill” was absolutely great live, as it always is, breaking up the middle of the performance nicely.
A good portion of their set was allotted towards publicizing the new album, as tracks like “Blooddrunk” and “Hellhounds On My Trail” made an appearance. Granted, I would opine that a perfect Bodom concert would consist of “Hate Crew Deathroll,” “Follow The Reaper” and little else, but from a more open-minded perspective, they played across the spectrum decently enough. The older stuff was definitely kicked aside for the most part due to the new material and shortness of their set, however. “Touch Like Angel Of Death” and “Done With Everything, Die For Nothing” worked pretty well, though, admittedly.
In Flames was surprisingly excellent considering I don’t much appreciate their newer material; they are still quite the band to make you forgot your problems and suck you into their performance. Of course, crazy colored lights and strobe lights pierced the darkness during their set, and they spent their time wisely – on their music, as fans know that Anders Fridén tends to get a little wordy when he performs.
“Cloud Connected” started the set most satisfyingly, but began to illustrate In Flames’ technique of pulling one song from each major album to leave lots of room for “A Sense Of Purpose” and “Come Clarity”. “Graveland” went out to the Jester-heads, surprisingly enough, but “Whoracle” was left lamentably untouched. The entire show was peppered with tracks reminiscent of the “Come Clarity” tour, like “Leeches” and “Take This Life”. “Come Clarity” itself got a really stunning reception, as the lights dimmed down to a purple haze and a sea of lighters provided a candlelit gloom to the stadium. Anders was quite touched by this lovely reception of the song, and Montreal metalheads were also kind to “Only For The Weak”, jumping high into the air, Wacken-style. Most older fans will be disappointed to hear that this was the only visitation upon “Clayman,” however.
Peter Iwers absolutely rocked the Bell Center with his bass during the “The Mirror’s Truth” and Anders belted out his emotionally-charged lyrics. As the set drew on, In Flames performed the necessary “Quiet Place”, and anyone with a neck was greeting that fantastic song with all their might. “Soundtrack To Your Escape” actually did not get much play, though, considering its relative newness. I’m less certain about the other “Sense Of Purpose” tracks that the group insisted on playing, but would hazard guesses at “Sober And Irrelevant” and “Move Through Me.”
It should be said that when both In Flames and Children Of Bodom played material from their newest albums, crowd participation dropped tenfold. Whether this is due to the crowd’s unfamiliarity with the music or a decline in quality is anybody’s guess. For the most part, people just stood around and listened to the tracks from “A Sense Of Purpose”, but “Blooddrunk” songs got a slightly better reception, being of a faster tempo.
Megadeth delivered up the classics in swift succession, interspersed with the newer material. In fact, the setlist was a bit odd in that it encompassed very little of the middle of their career, concentrating upon the first several albums and the most recent releases.
The singles from “Rust In Peace,” enjoyed a good run (“Hangar 18” and “Holy Wars”), as did “Tornado Of Souls”. “In My Darkest Hour” was played, and apart from featuring some of the “Countdown To Extinction” essentials like “Skin O’ My Teeth”, Mustaine leapt forward nearly a decade, using Gigantour as a forum to market “United Abominations.”
For the first half of their show, Megadeth played in front of a large cinematic screen showing random visualizations, like fire spurting up from the ground or clouds rolling by. One of the best parts of the night was when this backdrop was ripped away to reveal a giant black background with a classic Megadeth logo as they tore into “Symphony of Destruction.”
“Kick The Chair” from “The System Has Failed” got a spot, but otherwise, the newest album took the limelight, as Mustaine led his crew through “Washington Is Next,” “Gears Of War,” and “Burnt Ice.” Perhaps the most poignant moment of the night was when Mustaine led the French Canadians through the heartfelt, bilingual “À Tout Le Monde”. In a blast from the past, “Peace Sells” wrapped things up on a high note.
Considering the grand scheme of things, the last time Gigantour hit North America, two stages offered big-name bands like Arch Enemy, Lamb of God, Overkill and Sanctity alongside Megadeth. Admittedly, the smaller but no less-talented lineup this year perhaps lended a bit more time and attention to everyone, but certainly that immense, festival feeling was gone from this moderately long metal show. Time constraints taken into account, everyone was so focused on promoting their new stuff that I think many fans came away a bit dismayed at the continuous lack of older material.
Then again, as far as shows go, it was fantastic to see such a great line-up under one roof, and for all my nit-picking, each band played very well and I had a great time.
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