Megadeth has gone through many permutations since their formation in 1983 following Dave Mustaine's dismissal. Their most stable period, and arguably their most successful, was the 1989-1998 lineup of Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Marty Friedman, and Nick Menza. Outside of that time, there seemed to be a new permutation of the band every year or two.
Throughout it all, the one constant has been Dave Mustaine, a fantastic singer/guitarist who never seems to be terribly easy to get along with, probably leading to the revolving door of band members. There is one other constant; they have always put out kick-ass metal regardless of who was in the band. Sure, some of the albums are better than others, but still. This show captures the incredible energy of the Argentinian crowd and helps to secure Dave Mustaine as a metal force to be reckoned with.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Megadeth twice, unfortunately not during the Friedman/Menza years. The first time was in the Fall of 2001, shortly before their last DVD was recorded, Rude Awakening, with the lineup that included Al Pitrelli and Jimmy Degrasso. Excellent show, and DVD, it is pretty much the same setlist that I saw and watching it takes me back to that night. The next time I saw them was during the inaugural Gigantour in 2005, which was shortly before this new DVD was recorded, and features a similar setlist.
The lineup captured here includes Glen Drover on guitar, his brother Shawn on drums, and ex-Iced Earth bassist James Macdonough. It may not be my favorite band lineup (a lineup that has already changed with Macdonough out and James Lomenzo, formerly of Black Label Society, stepping in), but it is hard to argue the fact that this DVD is pure metal joy. The energy and technical precision is great.
Taking a stripped down approach, Mustaine and crew take to the stage with a minimal stage setup, a few big lights and a couple of giant monitors is all they have, and all they need. The Argentinian crowd was into it from the start. Watching the camera pan over the fans, I can only wish that I was part of it. There was none of that arm swinging, punch your neighbor "dancing," just thousands of people jumping and banging their heads in unison, it must have been an amazing time. Something else was noticeable that I have not witnessed before, the crowd was singing the guitar part! I had never fathomed such a thing would happen, but there it was, and it was immensely cool.
Megadeth was on point, watching them ply their trade is a site to behold. They are not the most active bunch onstage. There is no running around or jumping on amps, or any of what you would associate with many of the bands that are out there. The thing is, they don't need it. If you listen to the music and don't have the urge to bang your head, you probably are not really a metal head. The music is infectious and builds up energy of its own. There is also the opportunity, for those who were close to the stage, and during certain angles on the disk, where you can watch their hands play their solos, which is amazing. I have always marveled at Mustaine's ability to sing and play at the same time, as the music he plays is not exactly easy, and it cannot be easy to split your focus like that.
The setlist is comprised of a mix of new and old, with the bulk coming post Rust in Peace. Highlights include the classic "Wake Up Dead," the combo "Hanger 18/Return to Hanger," "Kick the Chair," and the set mainstay "Holy Wars." There were also a couple of moments when the pace was slowed; the track "I'll Be There," which seems to be a very personal track for Mustaine and led to what may be the most emotion he has ever exhibited on stage, and the acoustic "Coming Home."
Overall, this is a great show. Mustaine is metal through and through. Coming back from his nerve issue and being able to pick up the guitar again and take the show on the road is testament to his dedication to the music.
Audio/Video. Both of these important elements are very well represented here. The video is in anamorphic widescreen, 1.78:1, and looks good. It is not the sharpest I have ever seen, but it does the job nicely. Audio is included in three flavors, DTS 5.1, and Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0. They all do the music justice, and they are loud tracks! It should also be mentioned that the disk is nicely edited, giving everyone their screen time, including the crowd.
Extras. Not much to speak of on this front. There is an alternate mix for "Symphony of Destruction," although I couldn't really tell you what the difference was, although some different camera angles are used. Also, it's not really an extra, but there is footage of the band going from their hotel to the venue and them speaking of how they love the crowd. Interspersed at a few points, there is footage of Mustaine and Glen Drover with acoustic guitars playing for a group of fans outside their hotel. This was very nice to see, a small intimate setting, giving back to the fans, singing along. I would have liked to have seen more of this footage.
Bottom line. If you are a Megadeth fan, this is a must have, if you are a metal fan, this is recommended. The show is great, they captured a first rate performance. This is proof positive that Megadeth remains a strong metallic force to be reckoned with.
Here's to looking forward to their new album due later this year.