Megadeth / Lamb Of God / Children Of Bodom / Sylosis
November 14th, 2015
On the night of November 13 terror struck in Paris at, amongst other places, a rock concert at Le Bataclán. The very next day, my brother and I travelled to London from Copenhagen, a trip booked months in advance, to see Megadeth, Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom and Sylosis play at the mighty Wembley Arena. I had seen all four bands live before and was looking forward to seeing them all again. If my brother and I had any thoughts on possible terror activities, we drank those worries away, on the flight over. Arriving at Gatwick Airport we soon got reminded again, as a maniac had waved a gun and a sword around and left a suspicious package behind at the train station at the airport. The resulting security lock down, and general chaos meant that we arrived at Wembley Arena too late to catch the two opening acts, Sylosis and Children Of Bodom, and that we missed the first four or five songs of co-headlining Lamb Of God’s set.
Arriving in the middle of “Ghost Walking”, we moved to the front of the tightly packed arena and asked the guy we ended up standing beside, which songs we had missed. The answer was depressing to say the least. Lamb Of God had opened their set with two mighty crowd pleasers and personal favorites of mine. “Walk With Me In Hell” and “Now You Got Something To Die For”. Those songs were followed by two new brilliant songs, “Still Echoes” and “512”, favorites of mine from the new brilliant album VII – Sturm Und Drang. Nothing to do about that now, and crying over spilled milk has never been my strong suite, so when the band started to play “Ruin”, my party started. I’ve seen Lamb Of God several times, and the song that first caught my attention, was indeed this great track from their 2003 album As The Palaces Burn. Back in 2005 I travelled to Hamburg with a couple of friends to see Lamb Of God headline a show at the minute venue Logo, holding 450 people, with support from DevilDriver and The Agony Scene. After the DevilDriver set, half the people left the place and the remaining 200 or so, were treated to a killer set from Lamb Of God. Now, ten years later, I have again travelled abroad to see the band. This time playing on a massive stage in front of thousands and thousands of screaming fans. The giant stage was filled with screens, which, along with the massive backdrop, played scenes of violence and destruction from around the world throughout the set. The crowd was very engaging and thousands chanted along with front man Randy Blythe when the opening spoken word piece led into the fan favorite “Omerta”. Enormous pits opened up during “Hourglass”, “Set To Fail” and “Laid To Rest” but the largest crowd participation occurred, not surprisingly, during what is probably Lamb Of Gods greatest hit, “Redneck”. Blythe urged the crowd to make the largest circlepit in Wembley history, and although I don’t know was holds the record, the huge pit tonight could possibly be a challenger to that title. Lamb Of God usually ends their set with “Black Label” and tonight was no exception. The crowd reacted massively and I remember talking to my brother, who like me, is a huge Megadeth fan, wondering how on earth Megadeth could top this mighty concert. The sheer brutality and energy of the set, along with the fact that Lamb Of God were scheduled to play in our hometown Copenhagen a few weeks later, again with support from Children Of Bodom and Sylosis, totally made up for the fact that we missed the support bands and the four first songs of the set. A mighty performance from the Virginia rockers.
As the four members of Megadeth entered the stage, they were greeted with mighty cheers from the crowd that somehow, impossible as it seemed during the packed Lamb Of God concert, had surged in numbers. Dave Mustaine, Dave Ellefson, Kiko Loureiro and Chris Adler, who this night did a double-tour behind the drum kit, immediately kicked the concert into high gear with the immortal “Hangar 18”, as if they wanted to lay to rest any questions about, whether or not they were able to follow up on the great Lamb Of God concert. From the get go it is clear that we are in for one hell of a show. The band seems pumped to be here, and the crowd are singing along to the lyric and the scathing riffs in “Hangar 18”. Mustaine has never been one to babble on and on between songs, and the first time he addresses the crowd, it was with a short “hello” and his trademark smirk. It was enough to make the crowd go crazy though, and the excitement continued when MegaDave launched into a set of greatest hits. “She-Wolf”, “Wake Up Dead”, the rarely played “In My Darkest Hour”, “Sweating Bullets” and the old gem “Dawn Patrol” delivered an onslaught of thrash that left this writer and the rest of the crowd sweaty and happy. Megadeth was at the top of their game this night, and it seems that the new infusion of blood from the line-up changes really has Mustaine fired up again. A theory he confirmed to me, when I interviewed him a couple of days later. Mustaine isn’t a Bruce Dickenson-type frontman. He prefers to let the music do the talking and shred away behind his long red hair, but what he might lack in stage presence, bassist Dave Ellefson makes up in full. Perpetually pumping his fist in the air and playing his bass, he was all over the stage and inciting the crowd to more mayhem. New stringman Kiko was also a joy to behold and stickman Adler pummeled away behind the kit, showing no sign of having just played an entire gig. After “Poison Was The Cure” and the mighty “Tornado Of Souls” Megadeth played the first and only song of the night from their coming album Dystopia. “Fatal Illusions” had been out a month or so before the show, but the momentum in the crowd was lowered considerably during this song. I’m guessing that not many people have familiarized themselves with the song. There is certainly nothing wrong with the track (or the entire album Dystopia for that matter) and even though I was hoping for more tracks from Dystopia, it seems that Megadeth chose correct when they decided to include only one track from the album. The crowd woke up again when the massive hit “Trust” was played, singing their hearts out to every word and note. The crowd was active in another way than during Lamb Of God, as there was little to no moshing and certainly no walls of death or circlepits, but every voice in Wembley screamed along to the lyrics of “Skin O’ My Teeth” and “Symphony Of Destruction” before completely taking over the vocal duties on “Peace Sells”. After briefly jamming the French national anthem, The Marseillaise, and shouting “Viva La France” in honor of yesterdays tragic events, the concert came to a sublime ending with the eternally relevant “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” and the lyric that goes “Killing for religion, something I don’t understand.” Again the crowd sang every note, riff and word and it was the perfect ending to a perfect evening. The band received standing ovations, both from the floor, of course, but also from the seated areas on the balcony, and the smiles on everybody’s faces, band and crowd alike, were a testimony to the fact that we had just witnessed something extraordinary. Megadeth version 2015 is stronger than in many many years and proved the fact that you can be in a band that has existed for 30 plus years and still go out and slay. Hugs were exchanged between strangers and friends alike, and people left the Arena to go out into the cold English November night, warmed by the fact that we had just witnessed metal greatness.