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ConcertsGigantour at Hammerstein Ballroom 4/22/2008

Posted on Friday, September 12 2008 @ 16:20:54 CDT by Pete Pardo
Heavy Metal

They say that the third time is the charm and I would have to agree with this being the case as Dave Mustaine and his merry mates in Megadeth set out on their latest go round of Gigantour. As expected, the lineup would be a veritable powerhouse of Heavy Metal acts and their selection would follow in the tradition of quality that the guitarist had built with his two earlier tours of this kind. The first Gigantour found Megadeth doing a co-headlining situation with Dream Theater and there were a number of other bands to enjoy along with them (Nevermore, Symphony X, Dillinger Escape Plan, Life Of Agony, Fear Factory, Bobaflex and Drykill Logic). Cool as it seemed, nine bands was a lot to deal with so when the second round came about there were a couple less. You didn't need more than what was delivered for that run since you had the Megas supported by the likes of Lamb Of God, Opeth and Arch Enemy, so it was going to be interesting to see who made the Mustaine cut for the third jaunt. Sweden's In Flames would be the direct support and before them we had Children Of Bodom, Job For A Cowboy and High On Fire. To many these four bands were a good but not amazingly incredible choice because outside of the main three acts, the other two were still considered up and comers who not as many had heard about. The second Gigantour featured Into Eternity who was a rising star of the day but since so many people had seen them during recent tours they felt like old friends. No matter how you slice it this show was bound to be exciting and for the New York area performance it would take place at the Hammerstein Ballroom. The spacious room was going to host the event for two nights and if the reports were on target they had each sold out a couple of weeks before tonight's show which would be the first one for our area. Here is how the fun transpired should you have missed it for some reason.

High On Fire: The policies of this particular venue are a little different and they only let the audience in from one door after checking them and while this might not sound different to you, I meant that there is no additional space made for someone who needs to be in place to bring you the scoop. It's probably the first time in a long while that I had to chill out on the line with the Metal faithful and while I never mind that, the delays did keep me from catching the entire set of Victory Records' own High On Fire. I had heard some good things about them, but tonight would clearly not be the chance to see what those comments were all about. I did manage to get a look at the performed set list and its rundown was as follows: "Rumors of war", "Turk", "Death is this communion", "Waste of Tiamat", and "Devolution". They only played for about 30 minutes if that was even as long as they went on. Job For A Cowboy was coming up next and I was at this point almost inside the venue.

Job For A Cowboy: It wasn't too long ago that Metal Blade Records signed Phoenix's JFAC and since then the band has been keeping busy by touring with such monster acts like Behemoth and then finding themselves on a killer tour like Gigantour. A healthy part of the audience was in place when they were hitting the stage so they weren't playing to the security staff alone. I liked what I heard from them more in the live sense than I did on the recordings I had heard. They are a little bit Death Metal but have some of the Metalcore or Thrash Core tossed in as well. They know how to handle themselves on stage pretty well and like High On Fire before them, would play a very short set. Fortunately, despite their needing to keep it simple and to the point the band throttled the crowd seven numbers that were run down in this order: "Coalescing", "Embedded", "Entities", "Reduced", "Entomb", "Altered" and "Knee Deep". I enjoyed their set for the most part but would have preferred to see them on a different bill as opposed to the Gigantour. I do think that the majority of the people in the venue got into what they were doing and am sure that we have not heard the last of them.

Children Of Bodom: My guess about the reason for the healthy crowd numbers when Job For A Cowboy was performing was based on the fact that Children Of Bodom was coming up right after them, and the Finnish band is always such a satisfying experience live had this making perfect sense. The band that is led by guitarist/singer Alexi Laiho pretty much just hit the ground running for their set and while it was going to clearly be another short go round provided a lot of excitement and energy. Musically they were a refreshing break from the crushing Death Metal sounds just heard and their brand of technically melodic Metal with growling vocals reminded us why they were a perfect choice for this go round of Gigantour. The band is a headlining powerhouse on their own but there is nothing wrong about doing a run of shows with a band like Megadeth to know for certain that you are going to make a lot more fans for yourselves. CoB was also supporting a new release and this one is called "Blooddrunk" but despite having a new album the guys made sure that the eight songs that they would play tonight would cover a little more ground as opposed to dedicating the performance to it. I always like when a new album is only touched upon instead of being pushed down your throat. Of course this view is subjective when it comes to other bands who like to focus on their new material. As expected, CoB was as exhilarating live as they are talented and there were most pits in various sections of the general floor area. Laiho and company are all about the audience and make the point to gear them up as often as possible during a show and the crowd always responds in kind. You know they are well-loved when the chanting for them starts almost seconds after the previous band goes off stage. They are set to embark on a short tour that will hit this region later on in the year so keep your eyes peeled for them. Highlights from their set for me were primarily left to "Six Pounder" and the new track "Blooddrunk" which I was excited to get to hear in the live sense for the first time.

In Flames: Another great addition to the G3 lineup, oh wait, that's a different tour entirely and we don't want any copyrights infringed upon so let me reiterate that statement……the other great addition to the Gigantour 3 lineup was the incredible power of Sweden's In Flames because the band has always been one of the most thrilling acts in Metal and have kept it interesting for many years across the span of killer album after album. The band has a new release entitled "A Sense Of Purpose" and it's a great follow up to "Come Clarity", an album that showed the world that the band had not yet run out of ideas and were still able to keep things fresh. Their set tonight would be longer than the three openers because the direct support slot is treated as a partial co-headliner and that's great because In Flames is one of the most powerful acts still performing today. In Flames were on top of their game tonight and while they would play some older tracks they did primarily focus on the newest album by giving the audience three tunes from it as well as a couple from "Come Clarity". I watched the crowd go insane for those numbers and it seemed like they must have been newer fans or those who only recently started to follow the band. Either way, their interest in the new material was bound to help the group continue into the future and this is never a bad thing. They had one of the best sounds of the night and lead singer Anders was very talkative to the crowd and periodically joked and kept them aware that he knew they were out there. The band is a veteran act and it's nice to see that they still got it. I hope that they return and do some sort of headlining appearance soon for as much as I enjoyed them tonight I like them being the main band whenever possible. They surely deserve it. Now it was time for Megadeth to take the stage and the place was rumbling at this point based on the levels of anticipation about it.

Megadeth: Before the band came on a long black curtain had been draped across the stage and I don't remember this happening at the previous two Gigantours, but having been to a lot of shows since then perhaps I am forgetting a little bit. Either way, while this gave the audience an air of mystery about the stage setting the PA was blasting Iron Maidens "Run To The Hills" and I was personally being blown away by the fact that over 2000 people were singing along to it at the top of their lungs. Yes, I made sure that I was adding my pipes to this one as well and it just served as a great example of how unified the spirit of Metal is in a lot of these audiences. Suddenly Megadeth was on the stage and the curtain quickly moved out of the way as the band blasted into their opening number "Sleepwalker". It's a great track for a set beginner and for those who might not be aware this tune also opens up the bands latest opus "United Abominations". Given the large amount of positive praise that the album had generated since its release I surely doubted that anyone in the venue didn't have the CD in their collection. It was a fine return to form for the band and I was impressed with it quite a bit. The album was the first recording for the Drover Brothers as members of Megadeth but since the albums release guitarist Glen Drover had chosen to depart the band and in his place was the fretwork of Chris Broderick who comes to the band from Jag Panzer. For the fans who might have been wondering just how the guitarist would do should they be worried I am happy to report that he seemed like the perfect lock in the lineup. It was almost uncanny how he just fit right into place and was ripping up the strings alongside Mustaine and bassist James LoMenzo with no difficulty whatsoever. I was a fan of Drover's and was sorry to see him leave but when it came down to business Mr. Broderick was doing the material justice and kicking ass from the moment he began. Mustaine himself was also in terrific form tonight. The last time they came through New York and did the much smaller venue of the Fillmore NY, he was rather ill, so it was nice to see him performing in good health. To be honest, I hardly noticed his being sick that night but others told me they had noticed an issue here or there. Tonight there was nothing but excellence to be found in the band and it was such a driving set that was being pounded into the audience's heads by drummer Shawn Drover. The skin basher is also a fine player and I was happy to see him remain even though he brother had left. Sometimes it's difficult to remain if something like that happens but apparently this would not be an issue. Moving on in the set they dropped us with "Wake Up Dead" and then "Take No Prisoners"; the title of that one amused me since Megadeth was taking no prisoners tonight and instead delivering relevant Metal tune after relevant tune. It was a real greatest hits set for the most part but also featured a healthy batch of new songs from "United Abominations". I've enjoyed Megadeth for many years and have been more happy than disappointed in the level of strength that their material holds. It's held a consistent quality that many other bands never managed to keep up across the years of their career. It was hard for me to pick a favorite number since I always leaned to their classics but I admit that I enjoy the track "Washington Is Next" from the new album and also their revised version of "Toute La Monde". Sadly, Cristina Scabbia would not make a surprise appearance on the stage to duet the number with Dave but it sure would have been cool if she had. I did notice guitarists Alex Skolnick (Testament) and Chris Caffery (Savatage) milling about in the audience and saying hello to those who stopped them. One could expect that the regions musicians would hit a show like this on a day off from their own thing and since the venue was packed to capacity I am sure that many more were around who I didn't get a glimpse of. Mustaine spoke to the crowd on occasion and mused about some story he read where he hit someone with his guitar but he didn't remember it since he was not of the proper mind at the time. Personally, I don't recall that story but in Metal sometimes things happen that we regret. I did notice that whenever Mustaine was not singing that he managed to work up a smile at the response his handiwork was receiving and that was nice and during the entire set bassist LoMenzo was looking like he was having the time of his life. I think he is perfect for the band and I got a kick out of the fact that he was actually wearing a Megadeth t-shirt. All of the guys were also sporting Megadeth sweat wristbands and I am sure that this is something that the fans will be able to purchase.

To summarize the whole event I did think that it went over well despite my initial reservations about a couple of the choices on the lineup roster. Either way it was another successful go-round for Megadeth and the ever-growing in popularity Gigantour. I am sure that we will see a 4th version with another exciting batch of Metal bands to absorb. I shall see you there.

Ken Pierce

Photos by Pete Pardo

Children Of Bodom Set:
1. Six Pounder
2. Living Dead Beat
3. In Your Face
4. Hate Me!
5. Hellhounds On My Trail
6. Angels Don't Kill
7. Blooddrunk
8. Downfall

In Flames Set List:
1. Quiet Place
2. The Mirror's Truth
3. Scorn
4. Take This Life
5. Bullet Ride
6. Graveland
7. Move Through Me
8. Cloud Connected
9. Leeches
10. Come Clarity
11. Sober And Irrelevant
12. My Sweet Shadow

Megadeth Set List:
1. Sleepwalker
2. Wake Up Dead
3. Take No Prisoners
4. Skin O' My Teeth
5. Washington Is Next
6. In My Darkest Hour
7. Kick The Chair
8. Hangar 18
9. Gears Of War
10. Toute La Monde
11. Ashes In Your Mouth',
12. Burnt Ice
13. Tornado Of Souls
14. Symphony Of Destruction
15. Trust
16. Peace Sells (But Who's Buying)
17. Holy Wars (The Punishment Due)

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Hits: 2489

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