Gigantour Live In Vancouver – May 16, 2008

Spread the metal:


***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

Maybe it was divine intervention that steered Megadeth from becoming a virtual has-been in metal to re-conquering the throne and showing all the naysayers that the band still had some shred left in them.  RISK nearly derailed the Megadeth machine and a debilitating arm injury following THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO tour cycle pretty much had Dave Mustaine on the ropes but one last kick at the cat in the form of THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED saw the speed metal icons rise once again.  Mustaine’s signature juggernaut of metal bands (dubbed “Gigantour”) is now on Year Three and despite a surprisingly lukewarm reception the inaugural trip got here in Vancouver back in 2005, this year’s stable of bands brought out the metalheads in droves.


In a wise move, Mustaine chose to have fewer bands with longer set times this year (it also kept garbage like Dry Kill Logic, Bobaflex and The Smashup off the bill, too) and leading the charge was Oakland’s stoner/doom trio, High On Fire.  With this being my third trip to High On Fire’s altar, it never fails to amaze me just how heavy this band is.  For a trio to generate such massive sound is incredible and a small but hungry crowd gathered for the 5:30PM start (Gigantour appears to be a tightly-run ship with all bands from opener to headliner starting and finishing right on time with the posted set times).  Sweaty and shirtless almost immediately, Matt Pike’s deep, hoarse bellow is equal parts Lemmy and Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and his blazing Sabbath-like riffs mingled with the rhythm section of Jeff Matz and Des Kensel to create a fuzzy stomp on “Rumors of War” and “Devolution.”  The thick bottom end of “Turk” really shook the rafters but “Waste of Tiamat” and “Cometh Down Hessian” got the crowd moving with a churning pit.  Sadly, High On Fire only got a half hour but they made the most of their set and left the stage looking drained and satisfied.


Rumors of War


Cometh Down Hessian

Waste of Tiamat




For many, the fact that High On Fire went on before—and shared equal stage time with—deathcore buzz band, Job For A Cowboy, was a bit tough to swallow.  With only one full-length and an E.P. to their credit, it did seem a bit lop-sided but in their defense, Job For A Cowboy is a brutal live band and much better than I expected.  The band exuded loads of energy and was rewarded with a good response from the crowd.  I was surprised to see the Glendale, Arizona-based band’s set split almost evenly between GENESIS and the DOOM E.P. but the screechy grind of “Knee Deep” mixes well with the blistering brutal death of “Coalescing Prophecy.”  “Reduced To Mere Filth” really jumped out at me with an intense breakdown, flailing riffs and a crushing performance by drummer Jon Rice.  Brent Riggs provides solid backup growls to vocalist Jonny Davy, while Bobby Thompson and Ravi Bhadriraju (whose guitar sported the still-mysterious phrase “labu day” in orange reflective tape on its backside) terrorized the crowd with a headbanging frenzy of riffs and solos.  This is a young band that is not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve and they could certainly go far if they can avoid the trappings of the industry. 


Coalescing Prophecy



Reduced To Mere Filth

Entombment of A Machine

Altered From Catechization

Knee Deep


Finland’s Children of Bodom kicked off their North American insurgence for new CD, BLOODDRUNK, with Gigantour 2008 and it is no secret the band just keeps getting bigger and bigger here.  Vocalist/guitar whiz Alexi Laiho is a commanding frontman (fortunately, the photo pit was big enough for us to dodge his endless chain of spit missiles) and the band’s mixture of melodic power metal and blackened thrash boasts plenty of cross-genre appeal.  Laiho’s perfect solos on “Sixpounder” and “Living Dead Beat” delighted the crowd and caused more than a few air guitar hand cramps, I’m sure.  As always, the keyboards of Janne Wirman (strung up here with several brassieres) proved a formidable counterpart to Laiho with the angelic intro to “Hate Me!” and traditional set closer “Downfall.”  Despite only being released a month prior to the show, the title track from BLOODDRUNK got plenty of help from the crowd for the chorus’ gang chants but what really blew everyone away was the impromptu version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin”” that got the whole building singing along to the first few verses.  Children of Bodom have been known to pull out some interesting covers on record including Britney Spears, Billy Idol, Kenny Rogers and others but no one saw this coming.  As always, Children of Bodom came, saw and conquered.



Living Dead Beat

In Your Face

Hate Me!

Hellhounds On My Trail

Angels Don’t Kill




The endless controversy that seems to swirl around Swedish melodic death pioneers In Flames continues to rage on with the release of their latest CD, A SENSE OF PURPOSE.  Like Metallica, the band’s fans seem to want In Flames to remain within their safe zone and release THE JESTER RACE over and over again however times change, people change and new directions are taken.  As guitarist Jesper Strömblad so eloquently put it during my interview (Read HERE) with him six days prior to the Vancouver show, “If we play a song from LUNAR STRAIN, for example, you hear two people yell, “YAY,” and the other 2,000 are like, “what the fuck is this?”.  The band’s more melodic sound, first taken to the extreme with 2002’s REROUTE TO REMAIN, has earned In Flames an incredibly broad fanbase and immeasurable success that simply could not have come with a string of JESTER RACE clones.  Canada, in particular, has embraced In Flames and vocalist Anders Fridén even remarked at one point that this is the “best country to play in the world.”  The crowd certainly showed why, too, as a huge response was granted right from the get-go of “Cloud Connected.”  “Bullet Ride,” “Leeches,” “Take This Life” and “My Sweet Shadow” walked the crowd through In Flames best-known material.  “Disconnected” from A SENSE OF PURPOSE gets the award for best new riff, while the sea of lighters and cellphones that illuminated the Pacific Coliseum for “Come Clarity” was quite impressive.  The only pre-CLAYMAN song played was THE JESTER RACE’s “Graveland” and, true to Strömblad’s word, got the most lukewarm response of the set.  Fridén ended the set by stating In Flames would be back headlining in November, so fans looking to take in a longer set won’t have long to wait.


Cloud Connected

The Mirror’s Truth


Bullet Ride

The Quiet Place





Come Clarity

Take This Life

My Sweet Shadow


At precisely 9:30PM, Megadeth hit the stage for their ninety-minute set.  Before the photographers were led out, we were given strict rules for shooting the band and some ridiculous visual cue (the change of Mustaine’s guitar) was to signal our immediate exit.  Apparently, Mustaine made it known to the promoter that anyone caught shooting beyond this cue would be caught and reprimanded accordingly, even threatening legal action (why this was hammered into our skulls with military-like precision was especially baffling given the thousands of cellphones in the crowd).  Such diva-like behavior might be expected from Céline Dion or Mariah Carey…but at a Megadeth show?!  Give me a break, Dave!!  I initially had problems washing the bad taste out of mouth about this, especially considering Megadeth couldn’t fill the 900-capacity Commodore Ballroom a few years earlier, but once the band hit the stage, all was forgotten.   New guitarist Chris Broderick (ex-Nevermore; ex-Jag Panzer) is fitting in well following the sudden departure of Glen Drover earlier this year.  Broderick and Mustaine combined for a punishing six-string tandem on tracks like “Take No Prisoners” and “Ashes In Your Mouth” with killer trade-offs and the new axeman was even afforded a chance to bust off a great solo prior to “Tornado of Souls.”  The crazy shredding on “Burnt Ice” and “Wake Up Dead” proved Mustaine still has some enviable chops, too.  “Hangar 18,” “Sweating Bullets” and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” are just great live songs, as is “In My Darkest Hour” which, twenty years later, still gives me chills every time I hear it.  Most songs flowed into the next with little banter from Mustaine (he rambled on about sobriety and the use of “social lubricants” prior to “Burnt Ice”) and I’m sure I wasn’t the only person hoping Mustiane wouldn’t walk off when some idiot hurled a shirt and hat at him during “Tornado of Souls.”  Joining Megadeth on stage for the final chorus of “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?” were members of Children of Bodom and Job For A Cowboy and after nearly six straight hours of heavy metal, I was ready to call it a night myself.



Wake Up Dead

Take No Prisoners

Skin O’ My Teeth

Washington Is Next

Kick The Chair

In My Darkest Hour

Hangar 18

Burnt Ice

A Tout Le Monde

Tornado of Souls

Ashes In Your Mouth

Sweating Bullets

Symphony of Destruction


Peace Sells


Holy Wars…The Punishment Due

I was pleased to see Gigantour come to Vancouver this year after passing us by in 2006 and none of the bands disappointed, either.  The budget is certainly growing as evidenced by a mobile lighting rig that operated during Megadeth’s set and longer sets and the lack of “filler” bands kept the momentum going (Mustaine still has some explaining to do for slotting alt-metal has-beens Life of Agony in the middle spot of Gigantour’s inaugural run).  When Gigantour first reared its head, Ozzfest was the only competition in North America as far as an all-day, summer-long festival-type tour went but since then, Unholy Alliance and other bills have cropped up but I’m willing to lay my money down that as long as Mustaine keeps his ear to the ground and learns from his mistakes, this will be THE annual addition to most heshers’ calendars. 

***Thanks to Jessica at Live Nation for the press pass.

Gigantour—Official Site 

Official Site 

In Flames—
Official Site 

Children of Bodom—
Official Site  

Job For A Cowboy—
Official Site

High On Fire—
Official Site