What a line-up. That’s the first thing that night on 4000 people must have said because they ponied up for tickets for this wonderfully heavy collection of bands, making the Arena into a sweatshop for several hours. Quite the change from its usual use as an ice skating rink. One punter asked me to mention the flooring in my review so… it’s apparently awesome and is definitely very blue.
The rest of you probably want to know more about the bands rather than the furniture so James and I will take you through all four acts.
A great choice as opener, with a sound that straddles the pure thrash of Megadeth with the heavier metalcore of Lamb of God. They certainly brought their own fans with them judging by both the t-shirts on display and the number of fists being raise during the likes of “Mercy” and “Empyreal”. It did seem to take the crowd a couple of songs to warm to them (or wake up), but an appreciable moshpit opened up fairly early on and they had the audience bouncing by the end of their set.
Judging from the number of approving audience members, they’ll do a good job of filling up the Garage when they tour again next year with Decapitated. Hopefully there they’ll get good sound from the beginning, though. The guitars were lost somewhere in the mix for half their set but thankfully all was sorted by the end so that the guys could finish with a sound quality they deserved.
Children of Bodom (flickr set)
A band I admit I have little knowledge of in terms of listening to their back catalogue, they had quite the fanbase in attendance. Despite this, again it took the audience a couple of songs to really get into the swing of things, but it was the third track that kicked them over the brink.
Merging throaty vocals with a bunch of heavy sounds and melodic backing courtesy of Janne Wirman on keys, they put on a decent show. Janne himself ensured that the usually captive position of keyboardist didn’t restrict him by taking the odd break to wander the stage, collecting drumsticks to throw into the crowd and so forth. In fact frontman Alexi was more stationary, foot planted on a riser and guitar straddling his left thigh as he rattled off leads and lyrics.
Throwing around old tracks like “Downfall” in amongst songs from recent release I Worship Chaos (“Morrigan”, “I Worship Chaos”) they did a good job with their thirty minute slot.
Lamb of God (flickr set)
The first of the two headliners came on stage around ten to eight to an enormous cheer. Last time they were in town, similarly to Megadeth, they’d headlined the Academy. Between the two of them, there’s no doubt (as there had been when the gig was announced) that the larger Arena was worthwhile.
Unlike the first two band, there was no messing about when Lamb of God came on and launched into “Walk With Me In Hell”. The pit opened and casualties started falling immediately. Accompanied by two large video screens which depicted – mainly – military and religious scenes throughout their set, Randy and Co. made the most of their eighty minutes to batter the audience with a lucky thirteen songs.
I doubt the Arena has seen or will again see a circle pit as big as the one that formed by the time “Laid to Rest” and “Redneck” were unleashed, although stalwart “Black Label” (oldest song of the night at 15 years of age) probably got the best reception. That’s not to say that the new material didn’t go down well. “Still Echoes” and “512” were played early on and treated like familiar friends by the violent hordes.
A blistering if all-too-short set from a band who are back on top of their game after the recent break in proceedings.
From new boys (comparatively) to champions of the old school, Megadeth arrived on stage a little late but began their set by launching into classic “Hangar 18”. The two Daves were joined by recent recruits Kiko Loureiro and Chris Adler, who did an impressive job of battering the skins throughout both this set and the previous one with Lamb of God. It seemed a little unusual swapping his entire drum kit out between bands, but I’m no musician. Maybe the colour of the kit affects the sound or something.
The sound wasn’t great to begin with, and Dave’s vocals on “She-Wolf” were positively painful. In fact, there were several points throughout the evening where I could be charitable and say that the sound tech wasn’t really cutting it with the mix, but there’s no way around being honest – Mr Mustaine just wasn’t hitting the notes on a few of the songs.
However… the music. With a set biased heavily in favour of older material (eleven out of fourteen tracks were from Extinction or earlier), this was a show where everyone in the hall should have known pretty much every song. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Arena still pretty full for Megadeth, as I’d honestly expected a fair few to leave after Lamb of God due to the differences in genre. Those who remained – the vast majority – certainly seemed to have a good time.
A few gaps between songs gave Dave and Dave the chance to have a few words with the audience, and Mustaine’s sarcastic tones confused the newcomers on at least one occasion. He asked for applause for those who were seeing the band for the first time and the audience were a little slow on the uptake… He just has that tone of voice that you sometimes can’t tell when he’s kidding!
There was a good mix of the heavier material, the faster and the brilliantly “slightly different” (“In My Darkest Hour” has always been a favourite) and, beyond the dodgy vocals, the only let-down was that they couldn’t play for two hours to fit in all the other songs I wanted to hear. New song “Fatal Illusion” got a first outing for Scots fans, and seemed to go down well. It’s heavy and fast, though is a little derivative of some of the older material. Still, it’s whetted my appetite for the forthcoming album.
Vic Rattlehead made his standard appearance during “Peace Sells…” and the band pretty much rolled straight into “Holy Wars” which had been billed as the encore without leaving the stage first.
Not a band to whip a crowd into a wall of death the way Lamb of God are, Megadeth did what they did with thrashy aplomb. A significant portion of the crowd near stage front were rammed together, punching the air and banging heads like it was still 1990 and the circle pit still hadn’t been invented. This was old school proving that it’s not aging, just maturing.