Megadeth / Exodus Live In Vancouver Friday, November 26, 2004

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Friday, November 26, 2004

The Commodore Ballroom

Vancouver, BC  Canada

Live Review & All Photos By Lord of the Wasteland

Like meat and potatoes or Halford and Priest, when it was announced that Bay Area thrash legends, Exodus, had been invited to join the tour of fellow California thrash meisters, Megadeth, it was like a match made in heavy metal heaven.  After Dave Mustaine recently found God, the Megadeth tour was initially slated to have two Christian rock bands open the show but (thankfully) each had dropped off the tour after only a few dates.  In their bid to expose fans to some good, friendly, violent fun, Exodus was slated to fill in on a handful of southern California dates but it was soon announced that they had been added as full support.  Having never seen Exodus live and with fourteen years past since seeing Megadeth (Judas Priest/Megadeth/Testament in October 1990?ticket price: $28!!), I was pretty damn excited to see this bill.  This was a show that was sure to bring out the young, the old, and the in-betweens, hearkening back to the days of denim, leather and string-shredding riffs. 


While tracks from 1990s IMPACT IS IMMINENT and 1992s FORCE OF HABIT were wisely omitted, Exodus managed to cover a dozen songs culled from their first three albums and this year?s brilliant TEMPO OF THE DAMNED during their sixty minute set.  The band was tight and showed no signs of road-weariness after a well-deserved three-day Thanksgiving break.  Original vocalist, Paul Baloff, who died of a stroke in 2002, was paid homage by the band with six of the nine tracks from 1985s seminal album, BONDED BY BLOOD included in the set.  Before launching into the title track, the band honored his memory by dedicating the song to Baloff.  Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt traded solos in one shred-fest after another with the thrashy outro of And Then There Were None among the highlights.  The circle pit generated during The Toxic Waltz was something to behold, as well, with bodies and limbs flying in every direction.  Bassist Jack Gibson produced a concrete wall of bottom end in support of Tom Hunting?s thunderous time-keeping behind the drums. 


Unfortunately, not all is sunshine and lollipops in the Exodus camp as of late.  The band recently parted ways with THE ONLY voice of the band, Steve Zetro Souza, while touring in support of TEMPO OF THE DAMNED.  In place of Souza was Steev Esquivel, former screamer for now-defunct Bay Area hardcore stalwarts, Skinlab.  I was thoroughly troubled over Esquivel’s addition to the band because I have never liked Skinlab, mainly due to Esquivel’s voice and hardcore posturing.  Exodus is a group of 40+ year old, old school thrashers so what is a guy wearing baggy shorts and a wallet chain doing at the mike (the last posting by Esquivel at Skinlab’s website begins with “Yo yo, what up everyone? and continues on to thank their “peeps”)?  I was willing to go into the show with an open mind believing that Gary Holt & Co. would not bring Esquivel on board if he couldn’t deliver the goods and risk sullying the Exodus moniker.  In fairness, Esquivel certainly knew the songs (well, he had lyrics to most of them on the monitors in front of him, anyway) and didn’t try to copy Souza’s sneering delivery but the songs just?well, they just were not the same as the beloved originals.  Right off the bat, it was evident that Esquivel stood out like a sore thumb.  At stage left was original member, Rick Hunolt, complete with his Flying V six-string, black jeans, t-shirt and a skullet that would almost shame Devin Townsend’s.  At the opposite side was Gary Holt, dressed down in similar fashion to Hunolt, but sandwiched between the two stood Esquivel, sporting a navy blue Dickies work shirt, baggy cargo shorts, wallet chain, a goatee and enough piercings to set off an airport metal detector.  One cannot debate the man?s effort and his energy definitely asserted his excitement to be on stage with one of his own noted early influences but Esquivel?s vocal style is just not suited to Exodus? music.  The younger crowd seemed indifferent (most were there to see the headliners and, in my opinion, would be hard pressed to even name one member of Exodus) but those of us who grew up on albums like PLEASURES OF THE FLESH and FABULOUS DISASTER could sense the magic just was not there.  Even the newer songs from TEMPO OF THE DAMNED felt like a piece of the puzzle was missing.  Hopefully Esquivel’s tenure will not carry over to the next Exodus album and Souza will patch up his differences with the band because this just was not the Exodus that left such an indelible mark on heavy metal.



Scar Spangled Banner



Brain Dead

A Lesson In Violence

And Then There Were None

Bonded By Blood


Tempo of The Damned

War Is My Shepherd

The Toxic Waltz

Strike of The Beast

The ever-rotating lineup of Megadeth has been spinning out of control as of late with Dave Mustaine being the only remaining member from the last record, 2001?s THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO.  Jimmy DeGrasso and Al Pitrelli moved on after Mustaine disbanded Megadeth when doctors told him he would never play guitar again (trust me?he can!).  Long-time bassist David Ellefson is embroiled in a bitter lawsuit with Mustaine and Nick Menza, drummer on such classics as RUST IN PEACE, COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION and CRYPTIC WRITINGS, was fired on the eve of the BLACKMAIL THE UNIVERSE tour due to his inability to play the songs.  Coming in at the eleventh hour, Mustaine assembled a stellar live band: bassist James McDonough (ex-Iced Earth) and Eidolon brothers Glen Drover (ex-King Diamond) and Shawn Drover on second guitar and drums, respectively.  One cannot deny the talent collected by Mustaine and, after witnessing them perform as a unit live, his recruiting skills have clearly paid off in spades.  Considering this lineup has been playing together for just over a month, their performance was phenomenal.  With twelve Marshall amps behind them (even with earplugs, this show was L-O-U-D!!), Drover matched Mustaine riff for riff and solo for solo, never bringing any doubt that the lengthy list of former Megadeth axemen were irreplaceable.  Shawn Drover hammered away at the drums never missing a beat and keeping up with Menza?s familiar pounding double bass.  McDonough filled the vacancy of Ellefson as if he had been in the band for years and even provided solid background vocals.  He is much more of a presence in Megadeth than he was during Iced Earth?s performance here back in May, too (sharing a stage with Tim ?Ripper? Owens and Jon Schaeffer tends to do that, I suppose).  Tossing away any rumors that Megadeth is washed-up, a few members of the sold-out audience succumbed to the temptation of the $100 Megadeth hockey jerseys (with ?RATTLEHEAD? across the back) at the merch table and shouted out lyrics to all of the songs.  Mixed in with fans whose first Megadeth CD was the new one were several old schoolers including one sporting an ?Oxidate The Universe Tour 1991? t-shirt and another with a ?Clash of The Titans Tour? shirt.  Megadeth?s last Vancouver performance was on September 12, 2001?a day after the Al-Qaeda attacks on the WorldTradeCenter and a day before the taping of the now infamous segment of Metallica?s SOME KIND OF MONSTER film?so Mustaine, and everyone else, was in much happier spirits and ready to tear the roof off The Commodore.


Since this is rumored to be the last hurrah for Megadeth, Mustaine drew up one hell of a setlist to go out in a blaze of glory.  Twenty one classics from the band?s nearly twenty year career including a few rarities and tracks from the new CD kept the audience gripped for nearly two hours.  Each album was given fair treatment with the exception of THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO and, sadly, the 1985 debut, KILLING IS MY BUSINESS?AND BUSINESS IS GOOD (oh, how I would have loved to hear ?Last Rites/Loved To Deth? or Rattlehead?!!!) were not touched upon.  Seven tracks were drawn from THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED, including brilliant versions of ?Kick The Chair,? ?Blackmail the Universe? and ?Back In the Day,? which featured the members of Exodus returning to the stage to handle background vocals on the chorus.  Mustaine let the audience take over vocals on ?Sweating Bullets? and ?A Tout Le Monde? while the band tore through ?Wake Up Dead,? ?In My Darkest Hour,? ?Tornado of Souls? and ?Hangar 18? as highlights.  ?Something I?m Not,? a song trashing fake people, was especially ironic given that there were more than a few ?fans? in attendance solely to get that ?I?m so cool and trendy because I?m at an old school metal show on a Friday night? feeling.  Personal favorites like ?Liar? or ?Ashes In Your Mouth? would have been a welcome addition to the set, but ?Reckoning Day? and ?Angry Again? were nice surprises and there really was not a ?must have? song absent.  This was a well thought out overview of the band?s exceptional career.  As a final farewell, Mustaine hoisted his Flying V above his head with both arms and let the fans take in the fact that this would surely be the last hurrah for Megadeth.  If this tour is, in fact, Megadeth?s swan song, they went out in style leaving fans with a real sense of the legacy that is fully deserving of one of the great names in metal.



Blackmail The Universe

Set The World on Fire

Skin O? My Teeth

The Scorpion

Wake Up Dead

Something I’m Not

In My Darkest Hour

Angry Again

Of Mice And Men

Reckoning Day

A Tout Le Monde

Die Dead Enough


Tornado of Souls

Kick The Chair

Hangar 18

Sweating Bullets

Symphony of Destruction

Back In The Day

Peace Sells


Holy Wars


Thanks to Jamie at House of Blues for the ticket and photo pass.


Megadeth official site

Exodus official site