The Astoria, London, UK
16th June 2007
All live pics and review by HannTu
The rain and drizzle that gently tickled London last night meant that I was able to get in line 2 hours before the show and still be only about 50 people from the front. I didn’t have happy memories of the Astoria from the last time I was here, watching All That Remains and Firewind open for DragonForce, where I was in the middle of a domino tumble during the DragonForce set. One of the genuinely scary experiences of my life, when I went to ground and people were falling on top of and around me. I knew that tonight would be no different, with the legendary Megadeth coming to London, the floor was going to be nuts. Apologies for the lack of photos in this review, Roadrunner told Metal-Rules that the photo pit was full to the brim with photographers from printed mags, and we all know how impossible it is to get ANY photos at all when the crowd starts going.
Although the doors opened at 6, it was only at 10 to six that the opening band Priestess came out. The Montreal natives were not, diplomatically speaking, the best choice to open for the mighty Megadeth. Their hybrid of Southern blues-groove-rock with a healthy dose of punk energy alternately pumped me up and bored me stiff, where they would have a good passage of head-nodding riffing, and then descend into monotonous one chord strumming. They did this regularly, and by the end of their set I was turned off completely. Their guitarwork was utterly generic, rehashed from the riffery of Black Sabbath and AC/DC, they relied instead on their energy and flailing hair to get the crowd going. Possibly the only note-worthy thing about their set was a 5 minute drum solo, which is extremely unusual for an opening band, who generally try to get as many songs as they can into the limited time allotted to them. I have to say the drum solo was not bad, drummer Vince Nudo certainly is about as competent as they come. This is the band that Hit Parader proclaimed to be “no small part” of the reason why the “classic hard rock sound” of the 70s – which was the “halcyon period in heavy metal music” – is still alive and well. Hmmm…
Right, down to the big boys now. Even before the last chord on Priestess’s last song faded, chants of “ME-GA-DETH! ME-GA-DETH!” rang out, building to crescendo after crescendo that just shows how much we love our legends. The surge to the front started very early on, the people who (wisely) stayed at the back for Priestess’s set making their way to the front and centre. Last beers everyone!
The stage was cleared in double quick time, with Shawn Drover’s monster drum set unveiled and the massive Megadeth backdrop unrolled, the excitement was tangible. I myself was in quite a state, this being my first time seeing Megadeth and knowing theirs’ and Metallica’s history inside out, this was literally and clichedly a dream come true. Apologies if this review sounds a little like a fanboy’s wet dream, but there it is…
The opening strains of “Sleepwalker” off their new album UNITED ABOMINATIONS excited a roar that only Iron Maiden in my (limited) experience comes close to emulating. The front rows just exploded and to be honest, my recollection of the first few songs are hazy. All that was going through my mind was “fuck I’m watching Megadeth”, “I’m getting crushed”, “fuck I’m watching Megadeth”, “I can’t breathe” and “FUCK I’M FUCKING WATCHING FUCKING MEGADETH!” The next song was the classic “Take No Prisoners” off the virtually perfect RUST IN PEACE album, with everyone belting out “Take no prisoners! Take no SHIT!” Three more oldies followed: “Skin O’ My Teeth”, “Wake Up Dead” and “Set The World Afire”. The crowd’s insanity reached new levels, arms outstretched they at times seemed to physically transcend the metal barrier between them and the band on stage.
“Washington Is Next!” was…well, it was next. This gave me a chance to slip out of the front rows to make my way to the side. I’m not ashamed to say I couldn’t hack it in the crush, it was sheer unadulterated madness, “rabid” would not be an inaccurate description of the crowd on the floor last night. Some people could have been severely injured, and part of this was because of the sheer numbers on the floor last night. Whoever thought it was a good idea to book Megadeth into a 2000 capacity club should be sacked. Tickets on eBay were going for 200 pounds for a 20 pound face value ticket. When you consider that Ozzy, Metallica, and Heaven and Hell have booked themselves into Wembley Arena, I’m pretty sure Megadeth could have filled Wembley without any problems. No disrespect to the Astoria as a rock venue, but a band of Megadeth’s stature should be playing somewhere bigger, even Brixton Academy or Earl’s Court would have been sold out. As it was, the Astoria was pretty much capacity, or even over-capacity last night; it was literally wall-to-wall people, and upstairs as well.
The band shifted through the songs pretty quickly, with very little fanfare between songs. Dave said a couple of quick thank-yous for us coming out, but that was about all the interaction there was with the crowd. Megadeth has always had the reputation of being a rather staid band on stage, and although I had read some reports that the inclusion of the Drover brothers had spiced things up, I didn’t see much improvement on that front. Glen was pretty introverted, going about his business with quiet efficiency, but the smile plastered on his face was all the acknowledgment the crowd needed. James pretty much stuck to his side of the stage, so I didn’t see much of him, while Dave and Glen swapped places occasionally. Overall the band gave the impression of a well-oiled touring machine, no fuss, no bother.
Next was the super-popular classic “Hangar 18”, and everyone went berserk. I’m sure you don’t need me to describe the place this song has in every metalhead’s heart. The inclusion of “Mechanix” surprised me (is this song a Megadeth staple?), I certainly wasn’t expecting it. “Tornado of Souls” was brilliant, as was the stomping “Symphony of Destruction”, “She-Wolf” and the closer “Holy Wars”. On the downside, there was the tepid “Gears of War”, although that made for some rousing chanting by the crowd.
The show ended at 9.30 sharp, Megadeth having played almost an hour and a half. Admittedly, the quality of this review is somewhat marred by the lack of photos, the personal fanboyism and the marked absence of any originality or even of any observational nous from this author. But if you were watching Megadeth for the first time of your life, and them being one of your very first baby steps in the world of metal, I dare you to write a quality review about the gig! It’s an experience, one that is almost nirvanic, and how does one put down heaven in words?
2. Take No Prisoners
3. Skin O’ My Teeth
4. Wake Up Dead
5. Set The World Afire
6. Washington Is Next!
7. Hangar 18
8. In My Darkest Hour
9. Kick The Chair
10. Gears of War
12. Tornado of Souls
14. Peace Sells
15. Symphony of Destruction
16. Holy Wars