Megadeth - Arizona State Fair - 10/30/13

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Megadeth - See Also: Megadeth at the Arizona State Fair (Complete Slideshow)
Arizona State Fair
October 30, 2013

It was pretty easy to tell who was at the State Fair for Megadeth last night, and who was there for fried twinkies. You just had to look for the people wearing '80s-style jean vests bedecked with heavy metal band patches or spiked metal studs.

By the time legendary metal band Megadeth went on around 7:20, I was surprised that the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum was only about half full. Considering lead vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist Dave Ellefson both have deep roots in Phoenix, I guess I figured there would be more of a homecoming welcoming. However, I quickly learned not to judge a crowd by its size. As the band came on stage, the monstrous roar almost prompted me to cover my own metal-lovin' ears.

The following hour and a half was full of Megadeth classics, as well as pop culture, political and religious references. The band had just completed a summer tour with Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden in Mexico and South America, and were clearly stoked on being back in Phoenix.

Mustaine, adorned with bellbottom-y jeans and a white button-up shirt, looked out at the crowd with his usual squinty-eyed smirk. However, by the end of the show it was apparent that Mustaine was in a really great mood. He was smiling non-stop and was super energetic. 

"Phoenix, Arizona! This song is for you guys, old friend!" he shouted before launching into "Prince of Darkness" from the album Risk.

As the song kicked off, dozens of people began pushing their way to the floor and it became a free-for-all--if you had a ticket and were set on staying in your seat, you had another thing coming.

After a few songs Mustaine cozied up to the microphone and gazed out over the crowd from underneath his mop of auburn curly hair.

"Phoenix! It's time to set the world afire..." and all four musicians began headbanging like they were 25-years-old. Seriously; the majority of the set I was impressed at how much these guys head-banged. Plus, there was enough strobe lights to make you hope that there were no epileptics in the crowd.

Throughout the entire show, three giant screens behind the band members projected images relevant to each song: orange flame, falling ashes from the sky, rippling water, snarling wolves and dripping blood, and war-torn skyscrapers burning into the sky.

Right before "Sweating Bullets," the lights dimmed and a clip from Wayne's World 2 came onto the screens, with Kim Basinger dancing seductively in front of Garth to slow jams. Garth looked at her hesitantly.

"Got any Megadeth?"

The crowd went wild at this clip, and it was only the first of four showed throughout the evening to prove just how integrated into pop culture the band is.

Right before "Kingmaker," off of the band's recent album Super Collider,  Mustaine screamed, "Let me hear those beautiful voices!" The crowd continued to fist pump, throw devil horns and sing along to just about every single Megadeth song that was played.

I must say, the talent level of all four musicians is always a treat to watch. Mustaine brought out a different guitar for almost every single song, and seeing he and guitarist Chris Broderick in power stance on the stairs in front of Shawn Drover's drum set.

The stadium only proceeded to get louder and louder, and as I turned to check on my purse (we were at the fair, after all...) I saw a 10-year-old boy out of the corner of my eye sitting behind me. He was completely passed out and all I could think was, how is that possible? Then again, I have had a friend pass out at a Slipknot show before, so I guess I shouldn't be too amazed.

Right before launching into "Symphony of Destruction," Drover did a little drum solo, and then Broderick walked out and began shredding on his guitar. He's one of my favorite guitarists, and is almost more captivating to watch than Mustaine.

As one of my personal favorite Megadeth songs, "Peace Sells.. But Whose Buying?" came on, the screen flashed with an overload of imagery, from peace signs to dollar signs to question marks. The band's mascot Vic Rattlehead ventured out on stage, bobbing and weaving through the musicians. The skeletal figures motto, "speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil," made this chosen song the perfect time for him to come out. Ellefson ran around stage, constantly interacting with the front couple of rows. 

After that song the band left the stage to thunderous roars, and then Mustaine soon walked out once again. He stood on stage left and took a bow and blew kisses with both hands, and then repeated the same actions on stage right. He was smiling from ear-to-ear.

"It's good to be back in Phoenix! You know, when we first got here some people back stage were like, 'welcome to Phoenix!' I looked at them like they were crazy and said, 'welcome? I lived her for more than a dozen years!" The crowd went nuts. He then went on to promote Ellefson's new memoir, My Life With Deth. I spoke with Ellefson about the book in this past week's Metal Mondays.

Finally he brought the band back out for three more songs, ending with "My Way" by Sid Vicious.

Set List:
Prince of Darkness
Hangar 18
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
Sweating Bullets
Tornado of Souls
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells.. But Whose Buying?
Holy Wars.. The Punishment Due
Silent Scorn
My Way

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Megadeth at Veteran's Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair

Personal Bias: I have seen Megadeth several times: at the Big Four in Indio in 2011, at Rock on the Range in 2012, and a few other times before that. They are clearly a tightly wound, talented band, and are captivating to watch. However, I have to wonder if Mustaine's twisted expressions are necessary in order for him to hit the high notes, or if he is just that theatrical.

The Crowd: The majority was middle-aged metal heads, with a handful of children brought along for the ride, and a couple of woman who looked like they were probably groupies during Megadeth's hey day in the '80s.

Overheard in the Crowd: Ab. Solutely. Nothing. The crowd was loud with screams and singing along that I literally didn't hear a comment from anybody close by.

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