MEGADETH – Punishment Due, In Philadelphia

June 28, 2017, 2 months ago

Mark Gromen

gallery heavy metal megadeth

Can't teach old dogs a new trick, or so the adage goes. With the majority of the Fillmore audience comprised of old-timers, who partied elsewhere (thus missing most of the younger/less known, opening acts) and appeared just before Mega Dave took the stage, that saying would appear correct. However, by stocking the initial slots with next generation bands, Megadeth are hopefully winning over at least a handful of new/next gen fans each night, those that paid for Tesseract or Lillake and enjoyed "Dad's music" enough to plunk down (future) cash for merch, or god forbid, a CD!

Beginning and ending with a handful of classics, the set spanned most of Dave Mustaine's career, although, apart from last year's Dystopia, predominately showcased the Nineties material. Online sources report that the songs and running order vary greatly, from show to show and while he's been vocal about not playing certain songs, due to his religious beliefs, still sort of shocking that "Peace Sells" was the lone inclusion from the initial trio of recordings. Nothing off the debut, although the ode to metal fans, "Rattlehead", was on the pre-printed setlist, but not performed and "Wake Up Dead"/"In My Darkest Hour" have been played elsewhere this tour, Just our luck. Then again, landmarks like "Rust In Peace...Polaris" (certainly with firebrand, new guitarist Kiko Loureiro should think about dusting that one off) and "Countdown To Extinction" are also AWOL, but their respective discs well represented. That said, Dave, the times seem to dictate the return of "Foreclosure Of A Dream", at least in the US. This is the news!

The pairing of staccato driven, blitzkrieg lit "Hagar 18" and "Skin O My Teeth", to open the evening, just rips and lets the new boy, ex-Angra six-stringer Loureiro display his talents to those who might question his abilities. Was Mustaine ever partnered with a bad guitarist? After the first three, Dave switches from the guitar embossed with Rust In Peace artwork, to his caution tape yellow V. A green tinged "Sweating Bullets" is greeted like an old friend, the crowd helping the titular chorus. An entirely blue stage sees drummer Dirk Verbeuren introduce "Trust", initially joined by Junior (aka bassist Dave Ellefson) and then Kiko. There are three Marshall stacks, either side of Verbeuren's lofty drum riser, each capped with an equal number of bass bins.

Ellefson gets a solo, aka "Dawn Patrol", as does the Brazilian blazer, on "Poison Was The Cure". Mustaine re-appears from a blackened stage, talking about how he warned his friends about his ex-wife, the impetus for "She-Wolf". A green skull is illuminated behind the band, with Ellefson on backing vocals and the main Dave center stage (although, given his perceived ego, that's not true throughout the show, moving to the side, or back near the riser, especially giving Kiko moments in the limelight). Multiple spotlights are all trained on Mustaine, like being the Kim Jong-un on the ICBM targeting. Loureiro gets his own white light barrage, as he kicks off the otherwise amber lit "Poisonous Shadows". Afterwards, on an empty blue stage, Mustaine stands alone, under a white spot and talks to the fans, for one of the rare times, complimenting them at how discerning they are about music, then adds, "Hopefully you'll like the next song. If not, fuck you!" Vintage Dave.

Who wouldn't like "Tornado Of Souls", which was up next, a collage of lightning bolts and reds flash on the video board behind the band. Each tune is augmented with some sort of visual/mini-movie. Kiko takes the lead and you know Verbeuren is working hard, as an electrical fan blows his hair in various directions, even though he's under headphones. Dual orange spots highlight Loureiro, as Mustaine "interrupts" to start the green tinted "A Tout Le Monde", which ends with the newcomer, under white light, stage left. A fiery montage is displayed onscreen during "Post American World", while "Dystopia" sees exploding columns of carbon dioxide erupt around the stage.

Red, white and blue lights focus on the band, during "Symphony Of Destruction", as the screen shows b&w footage of orchestral symphonies and what appears to be 1930s and 40s socialite fat cats. As Junior returns to the blackened stage, everything turns blue, apart from the white spotlight on him. Getting the assemblage to clap along, he plunks away at the now trademark "Peace Sells" bass line, which a generation knows as a tagline for MTV, even if they know nothing of Megadeth. Wouldn't think there'd be too many in this crowd, but pre-gaming heard two 50-somethings arguing over which is the heaviest Metallica track: "Nothing Else matters" or "Enter Sandman". Sadly, both consider also themselves Megadeth fans, so who knows! Undoubtedly, they were amongst the venue's chorus, shouting the lyrics as the screen rapidly flashes dollar and peace signs before the band's mascot, Vic Rattlehead walks onstage and for some air guitar. 

Dave got behind the mic and after some self-deprecating humor about a drunken Irish mishap. Despite the (drunken) hecklers shouting from the crowd, it was Mustaine's long winded, but funny ("I don't care what religion you are. You can believe in Frisbees and when you die you end up on a roof somewhere!") monologue/intro to evening ending "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due". Onscreen conflagration partnered with more CO2 bombs. As it wound down, Dave showed a bit of (happy) emotion, lifting his guitar overhead, before slinging it back over his shoulder, to finish the last stanza. Peppering the crowd with picks, and his terrycloth wristbands, a big smile crossed his face, blew a kiss to the crowd and walked off. A kinder, gentler Mustaine? As long as the music isn't affected.

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