MEGADETH Bring SUICIDAL CHILDREN HAVOK In Philly!

March 22, 2016, 2 years ago

Mark Gromen

gallery heavy metal megadeth suicidal tendencies children of bodom havok

On paper, good value for fans, some old timers and new blood, packaged together, although the ticket prices at the Electric Factory ranged from $47 USD to almost $250, with some sort of meet & greet "privileges." Yikes! Seen all these bands before, most multiple times (and those with decades of history, lost count). Sort of strange seeing Children Of Bodom, a certifiable international headliner, so low on the bill, but playing to the older, Megadeth/Suicidal Tendencies crowd could prove a viable marketing move, but only here in North America. However, rather than ramming home their fastest songs in the allotted time, the Finns opted for an emotive set. The target here is the mid-lifers, a good contingent of union laborers, raised on the first wave of thrash and haven't the time, inclination nor money to investigate newer musical talent. They got to the bar each week, get wasted to the same soundtrack they grew up on, with little or no interest in the new generation of bands, unless one hits them over the head, in concert, opening for one of their vintage staples. Opportunity missed C.O.B. 

Rather than fourth in line, should have kicked off with the green lit “Silent Night, Bodom Night”, the frenetic guitar introducing them to the uninitiated, especially on the heels of Havok's blazing speed and political social commentary winning points. “Hate Me” kicked off with its staccato, Psycho inspired keyboard notes. While Alexi Laiho minced words, seeking to keep as much time as possible for the music, shame the lyrics/title weren't even jokingly referenced (for effect), given their position, in an opening slot. Most of the show was in steel blue, green or red lights. Laiho was surrounded on three sides by his bunker of monitors, a Marshall cabinet, directly behind him, sealing off the only open side. When not splay legged, bending strings, he was at the mic, often with guitar neck vertically aloft, Newbie “I Worship Chaos” offered a drum barrage, ironic, since Jaska Raatikainen's dual kick drums were emblazoned with the album/song title. While it's always great to get reacquainted with the Finns, this set was preaching to the converts already in the fold, winning over only a few of the old guard.

Speaking of forefathers, Mike Muir and Suicidal Tendencies could teach the new pups a thing or two about stage presence. If it weren't for the baggy, knee length basketball shorts, I'm sure Muir's AARP card resides inside his chained, biker wallet, yet zips around like a man half his age. Seemingly shot from a cannon, “You Can't Bring Me Down” gets things started. Great audience response when Muir led the "ST" chant. “Institutionalized” fluctuates between a cappella spoken word to punk intensity, lone respite in a short set. Wish they would have dusted off “Possessed To Skate” though. 

Unlike many of my contemporaries (teens/college kids at the dawn of Bay Area led thrash explosion), have really moved on from most bands of my youth, like Megadeth. As the setlist proved, this really isn't my band anymore: nothing off the debut, a pair from Peace Sells (title cut & “Wake Up Dead”) and just one off the follow-up. Yet two from Cryptic Writings? Apart from Dystopia, nothing from any of the half dozen studio albums since the new millennium! Sure, Rust In Peace is their tour de force and still my favorite (five songs offered tonight, but the title track suspiciously missing), new recruit (Angra guitarist) Kiko Loureiro was given the starring role on the opening “Hangar 18”, taking the leads in a "Show the people what you can do" moment." On the stage, there's plenty of strobes, vertically erupting fog/compressed carbon dioxide "steam" emanating from the rusted and tarnished steel "spaceship," which is topped with Chris Adler's drum kit. Colorful monitors, embedded in the steel, flash radar screens and other moving visuals, while overhead a jumbo Tron adds another dimension to the live concert, allowing close-ups of the musicians and assorted flashes of color. Despite the omnipresence snarl on his face, Dave Mustaine seems in a good mood (why not? The band is hot!), even smiling at the fans upstairs. Not sure how bassist Dave "Junior" Ellefson feels about the reduced role, standing in the background and adding backing vocals. He does get spotlight prior to audience sung “Peace Sells” (guest appearance by mascot Vic Rattlehead), leading crowd clap-along. Although only a few dates remain before the end of the tour, lyrics for several songs (“The Threat Is Real”, “Poisonous Shadows”, “Post American World”) were taped to the floor, at the base of each mic the singer would visit. Early on, it was old school. In the middle, a string of newer material, broken by a seemingly misplaced “Tornado Of Souls”, before ending (proper set & encore) with the big hits: “Symphony Of Destruction” accompanied by black & white montage of violence, “Peace Sells” and “Holy Wars...The Punishment Due”. Dystopia never looked, or sounded, so enjoyable.

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ROBB FINLAYSON - "Winter's Apprentice" (Independent)

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