at Edmonton Convention Centre, Edmonton, AB, Canada, May 1, 2023

MEGADETH (Live at Edmonton Convention Centre, Edmonton, AB, Canada, May 1, 2023)
Photo: Mike Scott

ME-GA-DETH! ME-GA-DETH! ME-GA-DETH! Close to 5000 punters chanted for a good five minutes before the Thrash masters took the stage at the Edmonton Convention Centre recently. We were treated to a video and musical montage before “Hanger 18” ripped through the hall. From the opening riff the crowd was in a frenzy, it took approximately 30 seconds for the first crowd surfer to hit the pit. If there’s an unofficial record for number of crowd surfers at one show, I think it was broken this night. At one point they were coming over the barricade in twos and threes. The crowd was pumped.

As soon as Dirk Verbeuren gave the one two three from atop the drum riser Megadeth fans responded and didn’t let up for nearly 90 minutes later. Dave Mustaine, Kiko Loureiro and James LoMenzo took the stage and blasted us with killer riffs and booming bass whipping the multi-generational crowd to a fever pitch and for me, this is where the night took a turn that I wasn’t expecting. The vocals were lost and almost inaudible most of the night. If you’ve been to a Megadeth show before, you know Mustaine is not the best vocalist, but usually you can distinguish what he’s singing. More on that a little later.

The energy on stage was infectious as the headbanging caused a sea of hair to flow across the general admission floor of the Edmonton Convention Centre. And yes, all three axe wielders were giving their own necks a workout. A feat for anyone half their age let alone Mustaine at 61 and LoMenzo at 64. They looked like a bunch of kids having the time of their lives.

Megadeth has gone through many personnel changes with six official lineups on record. This latest iteration has been together for just a few years and are as fierce as any combination of past players.  Kiko Loureiro’s scorching guitar wizardry coupled with the high energy showmanship on display from James LoMenzo, back in his second stint with the band, are the perfect fit for Mustaine complimented with the drumfire backing of Dirk Verbeuren. This is a Megadeth like none I’ve seen before. Dave Mustaine shows why his band’s name holds a high standing in the annals of Thrash.

The setlist was carefully curated to include highlights from the past 40 years and keep the pit pulsating. Who among us hasn’t dove into a mosh pit at a Megadeth show before? It’s almost a rite of passage. The crowd surfers were popping up like gophers in the whack-a-mole game and 95% of the crowd was doing some sort of headbanging. It’s impossible not to, especially with gems like “Tornado Of Souls,” “Dread and The Fugitive Mind,” and “Wake Up Dead” spanning their entire career. It’s hard to please everyone when picking the songs for a major tour, but I think Mustaine did his catalogue justice and gave the fans a little something from all facets of Megadeth.

The musicianship was on fire. They were tight and kept a frenetic pace for nearly 90 minutes. The stage was a simple setup with a couple video screens and nothing more. As mentioned earlier, my only complaint about tonight’s performance was the vocals, or lack thereof for that matter. Dave was indistinguishable most of the night. It’s a well-known fact that he refuses to use vocal enhancers or any type of modulators, but this was downright terrible. Most of the crowd didn’t seem to care as those not moshing or surfing were chanting and singing along at the top of their lungs and throwing plenty of devil horns in the air. Even during his few moments of chatting with the crowd, he was barely audible. The Edmonton Convention is not known for its stellar acoustics, but this was outright terrible. I checked other videos from this tour and it seems like we were not the only ones suffering. This is a major flaw for many people, especially if this was your first ever Megadeth show. Not exactly a great representation. Like I said the punters seemed not to care, but I know quite a few people around me were disappointed and felt let down.

Vocals aside, the intensity of their playing was second to none. I’ve never seen Megadeth approach each song with such ferocity. And Dave did not just stay in one place for most of the night. It’s like he has the new unbridled energy that’s just chomping to get out. His own guitar playing was stellar, after all he has a new lease on life, “I found myself moping around after the cancer diagnosis and some days I wasn’t feeling that great. We were still recording and the band kept saying just think of the fans, they’ll get you through it. Every time I was feeling down, I thought of you guys so thanks. We wrote songs like “Soldier On” and songs about perseverance and fighting. Songs like this one: “We’ll Be Back.” Thanks for sticking with us.”

“We’ll Be Back” from The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! is one of the thrashiest songs I’ve heard from Megadeth in quite some time. It was a great lead in to “Symphony Of Destruction” and “Mechanix” a fitting way to wrap up this show… that is until the encore of, you guessed it, “Peace Sells” and “Holy Wars.” The Crush The World tour has left an impact on Edmonton and some of the far reaches of Canada. Kudos to Mustaine and company for taking the tour to parts of the Great White North that don’t usually get major shows such as Moncton and Halifax.

All in all the show was pretty good. The energy on stage was incredible from someone who is in his early 60s. The love and appreciation from the fans was evident. It was a great night in Edmonton. I just can’t get over how bad the vocals were. Oh well, “Soldier On” Dave, “Soldier On.”

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