Megadeth / Suicidal Tendencies / Children of Bodom / Havok
Sands Bethlehem Events Center|
March 19, 2016
Review by InfamousButcher, Photos by SheWolf
Few bands have had a rougher go of it than Megadeth the last few years. In 2014, band leader Dave Mustaine had to undergo neck surgery a second time, cancelling their participation in the inaugural Motorboat cruise. Then longtime band members Chris Broderick (guitars) and Shawn Drover (drums) left Megadeth, citing creative differences. The band didn’t tour for a long time, but I just knew wily ol’ Dave had something good up his sleeve. Never, ever, count Megadeth out! Dave’s response to these challenges was to recruit Lamb of God’s drumming powerhouse Chris Adler and Brazilian shredder Kiko Loureiro from Angra and then record the band’s best album in years, DYSTOPIA! Only a killer bill would be fitting for the tour, so we get crossover thrash legends Suicidal Tendencies (with fucking Dave Lombardo on drums!), melodic death metallers Children of Bodom, and young in age but old in style thrashers Havok! Are you metalheads salivating yet or what? Tonight we are in Bethlehem PA, a former steel town that generated most of the steel used for the US ships during WWII. Let’s get Bethlehem cranking out some metal again! SET THE WORLD AFIRE! BRING IT!
The Sands Bethlehem Events Center is this great new venue for concerts and fights. It holds about 3,500 people and tonight it is fucking sold out! It took forever for fans to get through the security; if they are going to wand everyone they need more security to speed this shit up. Sound quality is excellent. Floor is spacious and there is a balcony that runs along the slides of the venue. No seats anywhere tonight, just standing room which is best for a metal show. Stage is large and a good height. There was a barrier and a photo pit, shockingly there were signs that read IF YOU GO OVER THE BARRIER 3 TIMES, YOU ARE OUT! Ok, I guess the fun police are out in Lehigh tonight to flag you for excessive crowd floating! Hey, as a long as nobody is getting hurt, people should be allowed to float the crowd as much as they want imo. I don’t because as a big guy, people tend to drop you. Parking is free and it is easy to get something to eat in the Events Center or in the Sands food court and there are plenty of bars. Also, this place is a 40 min drive from our home, piece of cake compared to going into Philly or NYC.
Denver’s thrash upstarts Havok were up first at 7PM. These guys play 80s thrash, so if that is your wheelhouse you’ll love Havok! Wasting no time, they tore into “Point of No Return” with ferocity, great riffing, and vocals that reminded me of Overkill’s Bobby Blitz. After the opener there were some sound problems, so much so that they had to give us a drum solo while things were being fixed. Unfortunately 2 songs had to be cut from the set. It’s a shame, when things resumed with “No Amnesty” I could hear the guitars much better and everything blended into a buzzing machine of destruction! Best song of their too short set was “Give Me Liberty…or Give Me Death, a fun furious assault of riffs, solos, and screaming! I would love to catch these guys again when they have more time to work with, great stuff.
- Point of No Return
- Drum Solo (technical difficulties)
- No Amnesty
- Claiming Certainty
- Give Me Liberty…or Give Me Death
CHILDREN OF BODOM
The odd duck of the lineup, Finland’s Children of Bodom, is a melodic death metal band that the promoters hoped would help attract a younger audience in addition to us 30 to 50 somethings that wanna see stuff like Megadeth and Suicidal. Musically, I thought they sounded good. Band was tight and together and the performance was powerful. I thought the keyboards were kinda cool, a nice touch. They’re just not my style of music, so I wasn’t really into it. I like my death metal brutal rather than melodic. Seemed to go over fine with most of the crowd and some circle pits broke out.
- Are You Dead Yet?
- In Your Face
- Silent Night, Bodom Night
- Hate Me!
- I Worship Chaos
- Angels Don’t Kill
Suicidal’s blend of thrash metal and funk is not a favorite of mine, but nevertheless they are an impressive live group. They opened with an extended version of their hit “You Can’t Bring Me Down” which whipped the crowd into a frenzy! Singer Mike Muir (Happy belated birthday, it was March 14!) was constantly moving and grooving as he delivered the vocals, skipping and moshing about. His voice was strong and he sounded good. As soon as their set started, the drums really stood out to me, much more so then when I last saw Suicidal here with Slayer. The drums were just blasting and intense but still fitting the funky vibe and I was like, damn, this guy is good! Then, after a song or two Mike introduced the drummer as none other than Dave Lombardo!! I had forgotten he was doing this tour with Suicidal! Dave’s still got it, it’s a terrible shame he is not in Slayer anymore, but he is still a fantastic drummer and I’m glad we got to witness his greatness once again. Suicidal’s short set was well received by the crowd, highlights included “Institutionalized” and “Pledge Your Allegiance.”
- You Can’t Bring Me Down
- Trip at the Brain
- Cyco Vision
- Pledge Your Allegiance
About 9:40 the lights dimmed and Megadeth came out blazing to RUST IN PEACE’s “Hangar 18”! Dave’s top notch shredding skills were on full display, and newcomer Kiko Loureiro was deadly as the two traded solos down the stretch. Chris Adler made his presence felt immediately with thunderous drumming and David Ellefson’s superb bass playing blended well with Chris, providing the foundation. Up next was new track “The Threat is Real” (THE VULTURES HAVE COME HOME TO NEST!) delivered with vigor, when Dave has a message to give, he does so with gusto and drives the fucking point home! Then we got old favorite “Wake Up Dead” (SAID I WAS OUT WITH THE BOYS!) and the place just rumbled! Kiko was impressive alternating licks with Dave and they both shined on that one. Next came the moody, wonderful tribute to Cliff Burton “In My Darkest Hour” (BUT I’VE GOT TO DIE FIRST, PLEASE GOD SEND ME ON MY WAY!) and all of it was excellent – the vibe, the musicianship, Dave’s vocals, it was fucking perfect! Things were off to a killer start!
I really dig this new Megadeth lineup! Chris Adler is a great addition to the band and I hope he stays and is able to balance his time with Megadeth and Lamb of God. A beast behind the drumkit, Adler’s power and technique could be heard and felt all night, particularly during “Wake Up Dead”, “Sweating Bullets”, “Holy Wars”, “Poison Was The Cure”, and “Dystopia”. He had a nice touch on softer songs like “Trust” too. Kiko was fluid all night, great guitarist and it felt like he had been playing with the band for years, even though it has only been months.
Dave was in a good mood tonight. Fan reaction was pretty rabid and he bathed in the adulation, soaking up the cheers. Few musicians in metal appreciate and acknowledge the fans as much as Dave does; he knows the fans have helped to give him the life that he has. Vocally things were a bit hit or miss for him tonight, he sounded a little hoarse when he spoke to the crowd so maybe he was fighting a cold or something. I noticed several songs featured more backing vocals than they had in the past. Some songs are also tuned differently now to better match Dave’s current vocal range. As a guitarist, he is still spectacular and has lost none of his ability to play blistering riffs or melodic solos. Always one to talk to the crowd a bit, when introducing the title track to the new album DYSTOPIA, Dave said a lot of people in the media think musicians are stupid and they don’t even know what dystopia means. Dave said, we wrote the song and we know exactly what it means and I think that’s where we are headed!
Set featured 5 new songs, all of which sounded powerful and fresh. Of the new stuff, I really dug “Post American World”, “Dystopia”, and “Fatal Illusion” (great bass line in the beginning by Ellefson!). Other highlights included a brilliant version of “Tornado of Souls” (RUST IN PEACE is my fave album of theirs!), “She-Wolf” (a staple of the live set and a killer version tonight!), “Sweating Bullets” (good crowd singing – IT GIVES ME A MIGRAINE HEADACHE SINKING DOWN TO YOUR LEVEL!), “Symphony of Destruction”, and of course the closers “Peace Sells” (Never gets old! WHAT DO YOU MEAN I COULDN’T BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?) and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”. Songs like “Symphony” and “Holy Wars” are not only timeless in sound, but also in meaning, and both songs apply very well to today as Dave pointed out. “Holy Wars” was an awesome searing assault of swirling riffs and solos and Dave took the time to introduce the band at the end. Great ending to a killer set.
Afterwards people left happy and drained, the thrash legends still have it. Tonight was my 300th concert ever and my 13th Megadeth show. I was thrilled to witness their performance once again, and this surely won’t be the last time. Megadeth is back with a vengeance, the new lineup is great and the new album DYSTOPIA kicks ass. Check out Dave and co when they come to your town and be blown away by the thrash tornado – IN THE EYE OF THE TORNADO, BLOW ME AWAY!
- Hangar 18
- The Threat Is Real
- Wake Up Dead
- In My Darkest Hour
- Post American World
- Dawn Patrol
- Poison Was the Cure
- Sweating Bullets
- Fatal Illusion
- Tornado of Souls
- Poisonous Shadows
- Symphony of Destruction
- Peace Sells
- Holy Wars… The Punishment Due