Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review: Motorhead & Megadeth @ Madison Square Garden

Gigantour 2012; Megadeth, Motorhead, Volbeat, Lacuna Coil @ The Theater at Madison Square Garden - January 28, 2012
Review: Dave Bolton

If you were an eleven-year-old boy and this was your first concert ever, then the only word that would describe the Gigantour show at Madison Square Theatre would be awesome. On the other hand, if you happened to be a forty-somethingmetal-head who was still queuing for a $10 can of Dutch beer as Lemmy came onstage at 7:58 p.m. and growled his customary “We’re Motorhead, we play rock and roll”, then awesome is not the word that springs to mind.

Ever since Sharon Osbourne came up with the idea of milking her husband’s name even further with a travelling “festival”, these events have become very popular. Take four bands - two possible headliners, two that will only ever play the second stage at any metal festival – and send them out on the road together. Give it a brand, print the t-shirts and start it at a ridiculously early hour, so that you bring in the kids that can’t drink and annoy the adults that can.

Gigantour is Dave Mustaine’s “affordable” travelling metal show and the gig on Saturday night was sold out, not surprising when you have Dave’s Megadeth and Motorhead on the same bill. The fact that both Mustaine and Lemmy are still around in 2012 to rock our socks off shows an endurance level far beyond any D-List celebrity who think that they party hard; these boys have been hitting the road long before rehab became fashionable.

Italian metal band Lacuna Coil opened the show at 6:30 p.m. and, according to the concert rookie behind me, were “amazing” for the twenty minutes that they were on stage. I also missed the first ten minutes of Volbeat as I didn’t get to the venue until 7:15 but what I did see was uninspiring. The Volbeat fans in the crowd warmly applauded a bizarre cover of Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want To Be With You” but when a band finishes by playing the opening riff to “Raining Blood” and that is the best thing they do, then their inclusion on this tour will remain a mystery to thiswriter.

No such worries with Motorhead. Lemmy has been gigging since he was in short trousers and although the levels seemed to be set to a volume more suited to an acoustic gig, Mr. Kilmister was in his usual fine form. Watching Motorhead perform live is something that every music fan should experience and they rattled through a cocktail of tracks that dipped into their extensive back catalogue.

Start with "Bomber" and "Damage Case," add "Going To Brazil," "Killed By Death" and "Ace of Spades," throw in "The One To Sing The Blues" (including the customary Mikkey Dee drum solo), "Over The Top," "Metropolis" and "I Know How To Die" and finish it off with a splash of "Overkill." Forty minutes of rock and roll, powered by Lemmy, driven by Phil Campbell and suddenly you have the perfect stage for another legend.

Dave Mustaine is another man who has been there and bought the t-shirt. Megadeth have been his baby ever since he was booted out of another quite famous metal band and he has continued to produce consistently good music ever since. The last time that I saw him was on stage at Yankee Stadium when the Big Four kissed and made up, which was also just after he had undergone major surgery. He was moving slightly sweeter on Saturday night but you come to see his guitar work rather than what shapes he can throw.

Like Motorhead, this was primarily a greatest hits package. Megadeth opened with "Trust" and "Wake Up Dead," flew into "Hanger 18," "Sweating Bullets" and then got "Angry Again." They also have a new LP out and the three tracks they showcased ("Public Enemy #1," "Whose Life Is It Anyways," "Guns, Drugs and Money") were good but it was the appearance of Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) during "A Tout Le Monde" that drew the biggest cheers.

Heading into the home straight, Mustaine pulled out "Symphony of Destruction" and "Peace Sells," showing his softer side by bringing out his daughter Electra to serenade her with a metal version of "Happy Birthday." With the crowd baying for more, the final assault of "Holy Wars" was a fitting end to the evening. And although my ears had escaped serious aural punishment, it is always a pleasure to see Megadeth on the top of their game, especially with the return of Dave Ellefson to the ‘deth.

If I was an eleven-year-old boy, I would have been very happy.

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