Between Megadeth lead singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine’s recently released memoir, lead guitarist Chris Broderick’s Guitar World columns, and another mammoth world tour by the band itself, fans have certainly had some golden opportunities to get their fill of the heavy metal titans this year.
The original 22-show long North American leg of the 2010 Megadeth World Tour in March provided a special treat for longtime fans, a live performance of the band’s entire seminal Rust In Peace album, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Several other classics rounded each live set, of course.
The sold out March 31 show at the Hollywood Palladium was filmed and recorded, and now this week, released on CD, DVD and Blu-ray as Rust In Peace Live (on Shout! Factory). This review looks at the CD and DVD options.
A live recording that is 74 minutes long seems like a long concert. But with a fast-paced metal band like Megadeth, an hour and approximately fifteen minutes of ripping rifftastic metal goes by in a flash and leaves you wanting more. That is, of course, a good thing.
An audience of mostly young males leads the “ME-GA-DETH!” chants shortly before Dave Mustaine graces the stage to say “Good evening,” a few more words, and then gets right down to business with the rest of the four-man clan.
The one-two punch of “Holy Wars … The Punishment Due” and (the UFO-themed) “Hangar 18,” followed by the war-based “Take No Prisoners” is a relentless trio of metal classics unmatched by any other opening set of songs in the band’s catalog. And the sell-out hometown Los Angeles crowd ate up every bit of it.
The engineering and mixing of this performance is outstanding, as the listener is able to hear all instruments evenly, and also pick up various audience chants and sing-alongs very clearly. Take “Hangar 18,” where the crowd spontaneously shouts “ME-GA-DETH!” along to drummer Shawn Drover’s three accented beats during the extended solo section.
The only (minor) issue one could pick out is the lack of volume on the backup vocals to (personal favorite) “Tornado of Souls,” which was otherwise a showstopper in and of itself here. But that was perhaps due to the way founding Megadeth bassist David Ellefson sang them more than the way it was mixed (by Ryan Greene). By the way, after being away for several years, Ellefson rejoined the band he co-founded shortly before the tour, and he sounded right at home throughout. At one point in the show, you could even hear a fan yell out “Welcome back!”
The Rust In Peace album may be nine songs long, but for this special performance, Megadeth added a 10th track, a reprise version of “Holy Wars…,” which starts out with some heavy, distorted harmonics-filled riffs before the band jams out some more. Mustaine also chose a break during this jam to introduce the band and inform the audience, to their delight, that the show is being filmed.
The DVD, which runs under 90 minutes, was produced by Bart Peters and directed by Kerry Asmussen. The audio on it comes in three choices: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, and Dolby 2.0. All sound terrific (and maybe a little more reverb-heavy than the CD version), but the latter sounds best when listening through a DVD player on headphones.
Guitarists should be satisfied (as this one is) with all the concentrated camera shots of Broderick and Mustaine’s riffs and solos, as there was enough – though there could always be more – of them to at least get a good idea as to how they play key parts of their material. The shots also captured the crowdsurfing that occurred early and often, as well as Broderick’s classic metal sneer and plenty of moments where the crowd sang the words, which they knew to all the songs, as one might expect.
The behind-the-scenes footage of the DVD is under 10 minutes long, which is just about right for length, since fans are interested more in the music than anything else. Highlights include Dave introducing his beautiful wife Pam to the crew and others hours before the show, and seeing the band quietly rehearse “Tornado of Souls” along to the album recording backstage in the Megadeth dressing room. It just shows the band’s dedication to their craft.
There’s hardly anything negative to say about the release, except for one annoying part of the production on the DVD. Separating the six post-Rust In Peace songs that were performed from the rest of the show and placing them in the bonus section of this DVD was unnecessary and interrupts the experience of watching the full concert that it was. That would be like separating these same six songs in the audio portion of this release and placing them on a second disc.
Still, these songs were no less stellar in the bonus section as anywhere else. “Symphony of Destruction,” Megadeth’s 1992 breakout hit was flawless. But the surprise hit for this reviewer among the bunch was seeing the extended double harmony lead guitar solos by Mustaine and Broderick on “She-Wolf”.
“Peace Sells,” the Los Angeles band’s trademark metal masterpiece–one with punkish attitude and a funky bass-led intro that is famous for being used in MTV News promos for years during the 90s–ends the show on a high note, with Mustaine by now bare-chested and as energized as he was at the start.
Bottom line: Some old school Megadeth fans may hesitate on having interest in a performance of this album because Mustaine’s original ace lead guitarist on it, Marty Friedman, wasn’t part of the show and tour. Here’s some advice: forget about Friedman. It would’ve been awesome to hear and see him back with Megadeth for this occasion, but Broderick is just as unbelievable and amazing.
As we head into fall and trick-or-treat season, it’s a safe bet that with Rust In Peace Live, you’ll be getting a real treat in whatever format you choose. Any serious Megadeth fan and fan of this album should definitely add this release to his or her collection.