Megadeth Nukes The Warfield
By Jesse Amazeen
After their 2013 release Super Collider failed to impress fans and critics alike, lead vocalist and guitar player Dave Mustaine knew that Megadeth had to come back with all guns blazing. And that’s exactly what they did with a new lineup, and a new album, Dystopia.
An army of amped-up metalheads lined up down the block to get into the sold out show at the Warfield Monday night. Kicking off the festivities was Havok, an old-school thrash metal band out of Denver, Colorado. Their brief, but aggressive set got the audience warmed up for an unforgettable night, with their blend of chunky riffs, blistering solos, and vocal acrobatics.
Children of Bodom continued the mosh fest with their unique brand of melodic Finnish death metal. Singer and lead guitarist Alexi Laiho and his crew tore through some of the usual fan favorites, while also adding newer songs like “Morrigan” and “I Worship Chaos”. Fast and tight, C.O.B.’s dark, brooding set was unrelenting from start to finish, much to the delight of the crowd.
Providing direct support was Los Angeles based crossover metal veterans, Suicidal Tendencies. Sporting his signature blue bandanna, vocalist Mike Muir lit up the stage with his always-animated and sometimes manic renditions of the band’s eighties and nineties classics. Laying down the beats for Suicidal on this tour, is former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, who wasted no time in reminding us why he’s an absolute legend behind the kit. Effortless renditions of “Trip at the Brain“, “Institutionalized”, and a handful of other prime tracks left the audience sweating and screaming for more.
As Suicidal made their exit, Megadeth’s military industrial looking Dystopia set pieces and drum riser were unveiled, to the approval of the now-rabid metal fans clamoring for the best viewing positions in front of the stage.
Finally, it was time for the main event. The massive video displays lit up, and a short intro clip set the stage for the arrival of Dave Mustaine and company. Next came the searing guitars of Dystopia’s opening track “The Threat is Real”.
Well known for an ever-changing, but always brilliant lineup, Megadeth’s latest album and touring cycle is no exception. On loan from fellow metal band Lamb of God, drummer Chris Adler stunned the audience with his rapid fire, but always precise pounding of the skins. New guitarist & Brazilian thrash metal legend, Kiko Loureiro really showed off his chops on “Hangar 18”, playing with all the speed and accuracy required for the Marty Friedman-era track. Live show staples “Wake Up Dead” and “In My Darkest Hour” followed, but with a renewed intensity.
Crowd surfing became an almost non-stop activity as the mosh pit powered on, fueled by the energy of Megadeth’s maniacal legions. Thankfully, the staff of The Warfield is well prepared for this kind of crowd, and helped many a surfer to avoid serious injury.
For many, the new album’s title track “Dystopia” was the highlight of the evening. Bassist David Ellefson, never one to demand the spotlight, carried the groove masterfully on this tune, and provided the backdrop for the stunning twin-guitar attack of Mustaine and Loureiro. Ramping up to breakneck speeds by the end of the song, it’s obvious the two guitar players have spent plenty of time together, honing their performances.
Choosing to skip their first album (among others) entirely, mid-nineties classics like “She-Wolf”, “Trust” and “Symphony of Destruction” rounded out the setlist instead. And it wouldn’t be a Megadeth show without their grotesque, yet dapper mascot, Vic Rattlehead, who also made an appearance onstage before the evening was over, saluting fans and carrying on in the heavy metal tradition.
With strobes flashing, and a blanket of fog receding from the stage, Megadeth closed out the night with one of their most epic songs from the Rust in Peace album, “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”, sending the crowd into one final frenzy. Without a doubt, this fearsome foursome left San Francisco wanting more, and reminded us all why they deserve their spot in “The Big 4”.
The Threat Is Real
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
Poison Was the Cure
Skin o’ My Teeth
Symphony of Destruction
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
stock photo by: Chris Kentzell