It had been 511 days, 16 hours, and 42 minutes, and 57 seconds since my last show, but who’s counting? I had fseen one local show, filled with riffs, crowd surfers, headbanging, booze, but mostly stress and trepidation. Still, I needed to see shows again, and see this tour in particular. The Metal Tour of The Year with Megadeth – Lamb of God – Trivium, and Hatebreed was coming and I was excited for it. Not just because this was the first major metal of this scope tour since the abyss that was the last year and a half, but because of the greatness of the bands, We are by no means out of the water with regards to the pandemic, but for a few hours we could forget about our troubles and enjoy some metal for a while.
I rolled out with my recently new friends made in my new town and we had an awesome ride to the venue, with a great convo, followed by beers and epic sushi in Walnut Creek. Every metal show from now on should be preceded by beers and sushi. The Concord Pavilion is a cool amphitheater about an hour and a half west of San Francisco. At heart all these shows in these types of venues are alike in a way. Usually, they have a good set up and the sound is often at least solid. On this day, the only flaws in the experience was the parking and the vaccine checks which were both lacking considering the state mandate that went into effect that week There seemed to be a lot of confusion even among the staff where to let us park. Finally we were able to park, but Hatebreed was already playing when we got in the door in spite of our efforts to be early. Too bad since Jamey Jasta and crew are always great live. People in the immediate seats around me were first timers and new fans who said they loved what the veteran band from New Haven put down.
Trivium came on next to little fanfare and just kicked tremendous ass. They were so good! It’s hard to imagine another band holding down this spot in front of the next two bands and being hailed and respected so much. Recalling earlier in their career when they were just starting out, and their arc they took to get to today, I really soaked up the performance. They really brought their “A” game now as they played some new songs from their forthcoming new album, as well as some classic jams. The fans loved it and I suspect eventually Trivium will be headlining tours just like this one.
Lamb of God has really ascended to God-tier status now in every way. Twenty-plus years in the making, and still going strong, they are the only heir-apparent name drop I will personally allow when it comes to filling the void of Slayer. Playing a mix of their classic jams and their more modern material, the band was hungry and very hyped to be here. Both artists and the crowd shared an energy you could feel in the air, especially vibrant vibes coming off of frontman D. Randal Blythe. Randy was on fire, running everywhere, jumping off the drums, and screaming his guts out. The band was crushingly tight, and with a wall of amps, smoke pots, and fire blasts, and one could not help think of the spiritual fathers to LoG watching them: PanterA.
Last and never least was Megadeth. While it was a co-headline tour, it was definitely their crowd and I didn’t see anyone foolish enough to leave before their set began. People were chanting “Meg-a-deth, Meg-a-deth” – even before the changeover of sets between bands and they did a nice job building suspense for the impressive set being assembled. As night overtook day, riffs were about to overtake our ears.
The band took the stage coming out to their intro which was compelling and suspense-building like a movie score. The glorious set piece had a futuristic glean from their last album cover, with really cool video screens and a giant central drum riser. The leader of the band emerged last of the band members, as Dave Mustaine strode to center stage and the crowd just erupted in cheers. Then the band jumped into “Hangar 18” with abandon and broke our next for the fourth time tonight. The band sounded great, while great visuals dazzled our eyes.
Fresh from “kicking cancer square in the balls” as Blythe said in an earlier shoutout, Mustaine sounded strong and played great. It had been a few years since I had seen the band live and they weren’t quite so spry and running about compared to LoG, but they played really great. Guitarist Kiko Loureiro ripped it up on lead guitar and as beloved but he fanbase as any Deth axeman has been. Returning bassist James Lomenzo did a great job and was very animated, running all over the stage, and performing well after having been out of the band for 15 years. Drummer Dirk Verbeuren, a favorite of mine, slayed on the drums all night long. We seriously can’t wait for new Megadeth music with this lineup.
Of course, everyone bows to the master, Dave. He had the crowd hanging on his every word and riff from his fingers. The band played a solid set, even with the co-headline status. It was nice to hear some of the material from Dystopia that hasn’t been performed as much, as well as some deep cuts. Such as “Dawn Patrol” and “Poison Was The Cure.”
Of course the band always closes with the big three – “Symphony of Destruction” – “Peace Sells” and “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.” They closed out another great night of metal music and a welcome return to an army of fans. Thanks Dave, and thanks to all of the bands!
WORDS BY KEEFY
(Jones Beach, New York show photos)