Concert Reviews

Megadeth at Fillmore Auditorium, 2/28/12


See Also: Interviews with Chris Broderick and David Ellefson

Last night at the Fillmore, Dave Mustaine stopped the show after "Whose Life Is It Anyway," and the band left the stage. After a handful of minutes, Mustaine came back on and said, "Security guys should know better than to pound fans' faces down front." Apparently someone was roughing up the fans a bit much for his liking. After making a disparaging remark linking penis size to being a jerk, the Megadeth frontman finished his harangue by saying, "That's what you get when you shoot steroids." With that, Mustaine and company launched into a blistering rendition of "Guns, Drugs & Money."

Earlier in the set, Megadeth took the stage to drums pounding in booming cadence for several moments before the curtain dropped. Opening the set with "Trust," from Cryptic Writings, the band played in front of a wall of Marshall stacks that made for an imposing visual impression, even if it didn't seem like all of them were being used at once. Whatever the case, it didn't matter, because everything was dialed in well, and for the first song, and it was such an onslaught of sound, you didn't really notice the shortcomings of the mix.

"Foreclosure of a Dream" inspired the crowd to sing along with Mustaine, whose vocals throughout the show veered dramatically and unpredictably between a vivid exuberance and all but turned off and crackling a little -- and it didn't look like it was Mustaine's doing, either, because he didn't exactly switch up how he approached the mike a whole lot. Maybe it was some glitch in the system or something going on with the equipment somewhere along the line, but at times it could be distracting.

But technical issues aside, Megadeth was in high form. For "Hangar 18," Mustaine switched to his Dean VMNT, and his rhythmic leads ripped just a little bit harder than the double-necked guitar he has employed for the first two songs of the set. On and off for the rest of the show, he seemed to switch mainly between the VMNT and the Dean Zero.

Everyone seemed to recognize "Sweating Bullets" immediately, and the glint in Dave's eye and a smile revealed he was having some fun with a song that he and the guys have no doubt played countless times over the years, especially David Ellefson. In the last third of the set, Mustaine dedicated a song to someone who couldn't be there (clearly referencing Motörhead), and it sounded like Megadeth covered "Bomber."

Before performing "Á Tout le Monde," Mustaine told us the band had originally written the song as a duet with a female singer, but at the time they didn't know anyone heavy enough. They have, of course, since met Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil, who came on stage and matched Dave, and sometimes surpassed him, in power and charismatic vocal delivery. Her melodious vocals made for an interesting contrast with his more raw delivery.

Megadeth saved a trio of its biggest songs for last, starting with "Symphony of Destruction." During "Peace Sells," Mustaine got the audience to sing the choruses, which it did wholeheartedly. Even Vic Rattlehead came on stage to join in on the fun. The closer, though, was an especially cutting and fiery rendition of "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due." Mustaine introduced Ellefson, then Shawn Drover, and saved "a little local flavor," Chris Broderick, for last. When the music finished ringing out, Mustaine seemed exceedingly pleased with the crowd, as evidenced by gracious gestures of gratitude throughout the performance, and he said, "You've been great! We've been Megadeth! Goodnight!" Volbeat had the middle slot and played with a playful exuberance. More than straight metal, the band's music roamed a kind of broad range of different musical styles played with a heaviness and intensity, including when the outfit played the Dusty Springfield classic "I Only Want to Be With You." The dynamics were a kind of bouncy groove with some edgy riffing, like stoner rock through a Pantera lens. Even if you didn't like the music, the band had a really vibrant, thick sound that made them never really be boring. The singer called for people to do a circle pit at some point and some people did. Apparently Hank Shermann of Mercyful Fate and Demonica was enlisted to play guitar for this tour, and it sure made a difference in the notably full sound. At the end, the guys teased a bit of "Ace of Spades" and yelled "Make some noise" and then played a few passages of music from "Raining Blood." But it felt like it was done in good fun and the crowd went along with it with good spirits as well.


Personal Bias: I've been a fan of Megadeth since the late '80s.

Random Detail: Motorhead was supposed to be on this bill, but Lemmy had laryngitis and could not perform. More's the pity.

By the Way: Didn't catch Lacuna Coil's opening set.


Megadeth Fillmore Auditorium - 2/28/12 Denver, CO

01. Trust 02. Foreclosure of a Dream 03. Hangar 18 04. Reckoning Day 05. Sweating Bullets 06. She Wolf 07. Poison Was the Cure 08. Public Enemy No. 1 09. Whose Life (Is It Anyways?) 10. Guns, Drugs &Money 11. Bomber (?) 12. Ashes In Your Mouth 13. Á Tout le Monde 14. Symphony of Destruction 15. Peace Sells 16. Holy Wars...The Punishment Due

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.