Concert Review – Megadeth & Scorpions (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 09/22/2017)

The city of Toronto was beautifully taken by storm by two of the greatest bands in the history of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock on the last day of the summer, and the result was absolutely fantastic.

OPENING ACT: Megadeth

When this Crazy World Tour 2017 was announced a few months ago, I instantly thought about how amazing it would be to witness on the same night two of the greatest bands in the history of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock playing some of their biggest classics (as well as a few newer songs) at what’s in my humble opinion one of the best and most pleasant venues in the world to watch any type of concert (and I’ve been to several different ones in distinct parts of the world), the Torontonian amphitheater now known as Budweiser Stage. Well, it was even better than anyone could have expected, with the combination of two bands full of energy and excited to please the crowd, thousands of fans eager for some rockin’ music, and a weather that, for the very last day of summer, was beyond perfect, making the whole night truly memorable.

As the opening act, or maybe I should call them co-headliners as they’re not your average band, we had the absolute pleasure of enjoying American Thrash/Speed Metal heroes MEGADETH. Spearheaded by the unstoppable Mr. Dave Mustaine, Megadeth were still promoting their latest installment, the excellent Dystopia, released last year, but only one song from the album (its title-track) was played during the show. The setlist was pretty much a selection of their biggest hits with a huge focus on their 1990 masterpiece Rust In Piece, kicking off the concert with the blazing Hangar 18, and also featuring from that classic album the hits Take No Prisoners, Tornado of Souls (my favorite of the show) and, closing their performance, a song that needs no introduction, Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.

And obviously “Megadave” and his henchmen David Ellefson, Kiko Loureiro (who proved to be the guitarist Mustaine needed by his side) and Dirk Verbeuren played every song to perfection, with the background screen complementing the music in a fun and exciting manner. For instance, the Nascar images used as a background for Mechanix and the official video for Dystopia (another fantastic moment of the show) played while the band executed the song were spot-on to keep the fans mesmerized and in total sync with the band. In addition, everyone at the venue singing the power ballad A Tout Le Monde guided by Mustaine was just beautiful, and the smile on his face after that moment was awesome. Now, as usual, let’s patiently wait until we can see such distinct band performing live again in our beautiful Toronto.

Setlist
Prince of Darkness
Hangar 18
Mechanix
Take No Prisoners
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Tornado of Souls
Dystopia
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells

Encore:
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead guitars, rhythm guitars
Kiko Loureiro – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, backing vocals
David Ellefson – bass guitar, backing vocals
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

SCORPIONS

If the venue wasn’t fully packed during Megadeth’s kick-ass performance, things changed considerably a few minutes before German Hard Rock institution SCORPIONS hit the stage with their flawless setlist, but before the concert started I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with other fans close to where I was (which was right in front of the stage), in special one father with his 13-year old son. The name of the boy is T Bone Bentley, he’s a very talented drummer who loves metal and rock, and you can check him smashing his drums on his official YouTube channel (together with his dad), playing songs like Iron Maiden’s all-time classic “Run to the Hills” and Judas Priest’s metal anthem “Breaking the Law”. When I see little fellas like T Bone and their passion for heavy music, my hope for a better future for mankind gets renovated, so don’t waste your time and go check his YouTube videos. They’re surely going to make your day a lot better.

Back to the concert, it was around 8:30pm when the iconic vocalist Klaus Meine, the flammable guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker, the talented bassist Paweł Mąciwoda and the one and only drummer Mikkey Dee hit the stage with an avalanche of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll hits, starting with a fantastic song from their 2015 album Return to Forever, the rockin’ Going Out With a Bang, already showing the night was going to be insanely fun. Let’s say that the first part of the show worked more like a “warm-up”, with the band jamming and rocking nonstop, generating a very good vibe and showing why they’re still alive and kicking after so many decades on the road. That first segment of the show had as its highlights the classic The Zoo, the fairly new but amazing We Built This House, and from their mini-acoustic set (including a weird but useful drum kit by Mikkey) I would say the touching ballad Send Me an Angel definitely stole the spotlight.

After that, Mr. Klaus Meine simply introduced one of the band’s biggest and most beautiful classics, Wind of Change, obviously hypnotizing all of us with the song’s renowned whistling, followed by another sensational new song titled Rock ‘n’ Roll Band and their awesome tribute to the most badass rocker that this world will ever see, Lemmy Kilmister, playing a cover version of Motörhead’s hit Overkill. Right after that, Mikkey offered us all an amazing drum solo (which put the little T Bone into a state of pure ecstasy), while the rest of the band was getting ready for a flawless Hard Rock attack comprised of nothing more, nothing less than Blackout, Big City Nights, No One Like You, Still Loving You (what a lovely moment of the show!) and Rock You Like a Hurricane. What else can you ask for, right?

Before this review of the show is over, I just wanted to mention two things that truly caught my attention during the concert, one in a very positive way, while the other was quite sad.  First, I was completely impressed with the fact that Mr. Rudolf Schenker is almost 70 years old and he keeps running frantically around the stage, screaming and interacting with the fans, and playing his guitar as if he was in his early 30’s. That was plain awesome, and definitely an inspiration for me and lots of other fans on how you can get old but remain young at heart, enjoying life until the end (just like Lemmy did, by the way). On the other hand, while Mr. Schenker was a role model to all of us, there were a few spoiled bi… I mean, girls, that thought that just because they’re (still) young and pretty they can do whatever they want, including being rude, disrespectful and annoying to anyone around them. One of them was so disrespectful to a guy next to me, elbowing him and pretending he was harassing her, to the point everyone close to that scene even stooped enjoying the concert for a few moments until security finally (and fortunately) took that stupid Barbie doll away. I hope when she gets old, and she will, she learns how to be a better person and how to respect other people. Well, Little T Bone is only 13 and he already knows how to behave in a rock and metal concert, as well as other kids that attended the show with their parents. It’s just a matter of learning what true respect is at home, right? And I hope that next time Scorpions take Toronto by storm with another faultless performance like that, that irksome girl is somewhere else, like at a Justin Bieber concert. Let the real bands for the real fans, lady.

Setlist
Intro
Going Out With a Bang
Make It Real
The Zoo
Coast to Coast
Top of the Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy’s Coming / Catch Your Train
We Built This House
Delicate Dance (with Ingo Powitzer)
Always Somewhere / Eye of the Storm / Send Me an Angel
Wind of Change
Rock ‘n’ Roll Band
Overkill (Motörhead cover)
Drum Solo
Blackout
Big City Nights

Encore:
No One Like You
Still Loving You
Rock You Like a Hurricane

Band members
Klaus Meine – lead vocals
Matthias Jabs – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars
Rudolf Schenker – rhythm guitars, lead guitars, backing vocals
Paweł Mąciwoda – bass guitar
Mikkey Dee – drums

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Album Review – Megadeth / Dystopia (2016)

And the dystopian world portrayed in the brand new album by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is beyond awesome.

Rating2

megadeth_dystopiaDys·to·pi·a
\disˈtōpēə\
noun. An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.

It’s this hopeless but unfortunately actual view of our decaying society that inspired the one and only metal lord Dave Mustaine and his Thrash/Speed Metal infantry Megadeth to compose Dystopia, the fifteenth studio album in their magnificent career and, in my opinion, their absolute best since their 2009 album Endgame. The reason behind that? Well, Dystopia is a rip-roaring feast of lancinating riffs, crushing beats and spectacularly austere lyrics, all led by one of the most influential, unrelenting and technical musicians in the history of Heavy Metal. In other words, Mr. Dave Mustaine nailed it once again for our total delectation.

Let’s say that this remarkable achievement also comes partially from the band’s  two new members, the awesome Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro (Angra), who took the six-strings from the also amazing Chris Broderick, and especially the insane American drummer Chris Adler (Lamb of God), replacing longtime drummer Shawn Drover. While Kiko added a lot of feeling to Megadeth’s distinct guitar lines, Chris simply came smashing everything and everyone with his groovy and bestial technique, and the final result is what every single “MegaFan” in the world was expecting from this iconic band from the United States.

The smooth vocals by Jordanian singer Farah Siraj kick off Mustaine’s dystopian world in the magnificently trenchant chant The Threat is Real, a killer traditional Megadeth song with the trademark piercing riffs by Dave and his always politicized lyrics (“See the burnished images / Of a crest fallen nation see / Violent conditioning, cause the nature of the enemy / You’re terminal lack of vision / Blinded, I see no light / A chronic lack of perspective / Their cancer now eats us alive”). I can’t wait to see this played live, and don’t forget to check its awesome animated video because Vic Rattlehead gets his revenge in the official video (including references to some of their old albums) for the following tune, the superb Dystopia, with highlights to its strong feeling of desolation and its thoughtful lyrics (“Demoralized and overmastered people think / The quickest way to end a war is lose / Dictatorship ends starting with tyrannicide / You must destroy the cancer at its root”). Not only its initial riff is outstanding, but its chorus is so catchy I’m sure it will be one of the best moments of their future live performances.

Fatal Illusion, which brings lyrics about a person who is a misfit in society and ends up getting taken before the judicial system (“Lost inside the system, locked away without a key / No one will ever miss a menace to society / A gross lack of potential, bad decisions made in spite / A touchy hairpin trigger and such a wasted life”), clearly showcases the enormous positive impact Kiko and Chris had on the overall result of the album in terms of groove and complexity; while Death from Within, another dark and bitter composition by “MegaDave”, gets closer to what he did in albums such as The System Has Failed and United Abominations. Moreover, Chris is simply pounding his drums with endless anger, in a classy exhibit of how good heavy drumming is supposed to be. And in Bullet to the Brain, an eerie intro morphs into a heavy and psychological tune, blending old school and modern Megadeth while focusing on the guitar riffs and solos by Dave and Kiko, with Dave providing an excellent chorus to be screamed along with him.

megadeth 2016Post American World is perhaps the darkest of all songs, with many elements from their classic “Symphony of Destruction” added to its musicality. Dave sends a strong message to his countrymen, whereas bassist David Ellefson keeps delivering his precise and thunderous bass lines, just as expected from such an amazing musician. Then guest singer Farah Siraj returns with her gentle voice in Poisonous Shadows, a pensive and melancholic aria that will please most fans of the band where Kiko Loureiro displays some of his abilities on the piano, and guest musician Charlie Judge takes care of the orchestrations amidst the song’s gripping riffs.

The beautiful instrumental tune Conquer or Die! sets the stage for the heavy as hell Lying in State, my favorite of all tracks by far. This kick-ass chant will penetrate your mind and soul and crush you mercilessly, with Chris and David demolishing everything that crosses their path with their boisterous drums and resonant bass lines, respectively. Needless to say how violent and acid the lyrics are in this awesome Thrash Metal anthem, right? Anyway, in the high-octane thrashy tune The Emperor, the biggest question is who the lucky person being “honored” by its lyrics is (“You look so perfect, but everybody knows / Their petrified to say the emperor has no clothes / So bloody perfect, but everybody knows / Their just so petrified, the emperor has no clothes”). Even if you have no clue about the answer, just enjoy this straightforward Megadeth tune, where Dave steals the spotlight with yet another intense performance. And closing Dystopia in solid fashion, Megadeth offer us their flawless cover version for Foreign Policy, one of the biggest hits by Fear, a Hardcore Punk band from Los Angeles, California (take a listen at the original version HERE).

In a nutshell, if there were any fans still a bit skeptical about the direction the music by Megadeth was taking after the good but controversial Super Collider was released in 2013, I’m pretty sure their fears are completely gone with Dystopia. As aforementioned, Dave Mustaine didn’t disappoint at all, providing his legion of loyal admirers another marvelous chapter in the band’s history. Thus, it’s sad to realize we’re actually living in a dystopia, where everything surrounding us seems to be tending towards a tragic ending. However, at least the dystopian world created by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is indeed beyond awesome and will surely make our lives less miserable for years to come.

Best moments of the album: The Threat is Real, Dystopia, Lying in State and The Emperor.

Worst moments of the album: None, of course. This is Megadeth at their finest.

Released in 2016 Universal Music

Track listing
1. The Threat is Real 4:22
2. Dystopia 5:00
3. Fatal Illusion 4:16
4. Death from Within 4:48
5. Bullet to the Brain 4:29
6. Post American World 4:25
7. Poisonous Shadows 6:02
8. Conquer or Die! (Instrumental) 3:33
9. Lying in State 3:34
10. The Emperor 3:54
11. Foreign Policy (Fear cover) 2:28 

Japanese edition bonus track
12. Me Hate You 3:44

Spotify bonus track
12. Melt the Ice Away (Budgie cover) 3:28

iTunes & Best Buy edition bonus tracks
8. Look Who’s Talking 4:14
12. Last Dying Wish 3:49

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Kiko Loureiro – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, piano on “Poisonous Shadows”
David Ellefson – bass guitar, backing vocals
Chris Adler – drums

Additional musicians
Farah Siraj – guest vocals on “The Threat is Real” and “Poisonous Shadows”
Charlie Judge – orchestral arrangements on “Poisonous Shadows”
Miles Doleac – voice-over in “Conquer or Die!”
Steve Wariner – steel guitar
Chris Rodriguez – backing vocals