A little less Mega this time around

Megadeth *** (3 stars out of 6); May 25 at Store Vega

Megadeth's choice to open Saturday night's concert in Vega with 'Trust', the lead track off of 1997's Cryptic Warnings, was very indicative of the night on the whole. The song is an overly slick softer track that is a far cry from the rip-roaring thrash metal that propelled the band to its artistic and commercial peaks of the late 1980s and early 90s. 

 

Its choice paved the way for a selection of songs that heavily focused on the latter part of Megadeth's career and a performance that, like 'Trust', felt at times just a little over-produced. 

 

That's not to say that Dave Mustaine and company didn't have their moments. They did. A lot of them, in fact. 

 

Backed by three large video screens that provided complimentary imagery to the show without getting in the way, Megadeth sounded clean, crisp and still very much capable of blasting the audience's collective face off, as evidenced by its rip through 'Hanger 18' just a few songs in to the set. 

 

Megadeth is pushing a new record out next month, the 14th of their long career, and treated the crowd to the first ever live performance of 'Kingmaker'. And while it doesn't match their glory days, it held its own next to the rest of the night's performances. 

 

But therein lied much of the problem on the evening. The setlist included only two picks from 1990's Rust in Peace, and just one song ('Peace Sells') that predated that album. I get that the band must get sick of playing songs from a quarter century ago, but as someone who spent his formative years listening to Megadeth's first four albums, it was a disappointment. 

 

The highlight of the night was a quartet of songs off of 1992's commercial breakthrough Countdown to Extinction, highlighted by tremendous performances of 'Architecture of Aggression' and 'Sweating Bullets’. The album's – and the band's – most well-known song, 'Symphony of Destruction', also naturally made an appearance later in the set. 

 

The 15-song set was over in under 90 minutes, leaving this reviewer wanting more. But hey, maybe that’s a good thing. Beats checking the clock out of boredom, anyway. 

 

It should be noted that there were no signs of the 'Megadick' persona that Mustaine has displayed over the years nor, thankfully, any political posturing. On the contrary, he seemed happy and good-natured and earned some major cool points by singling out some of the younger members of the crowd at the end of the show, including a boy of about seven who was personally handed a sweatband and even brought on stage to trade a few words with the metal legend himself, who despite being 51 still looked and sounded great. 

 

The last time I saw Megadeth was in 1995, and while I'm genuinely impressed that Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson (the only original members left) can still completely own a crowd, the setlist from that show 18 years ago was way better.





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