MEGADETH / MOTÖRHEAD / VOLBEAT / LACUNA COIL
Date: 10th February
Venue: Aragon Ballroom
Ticket: $50 (€38)
DimK: The second edition of ‘Gigantour’ was about to take place at the same venue in Chicago as it did almost 4 years ago. The big difference this time was the terrible weather and the winter advisory issued that made us think twice of taking the long trip to Aragon Ballroom. To tell you the truth I am not sure that we took the best decision… Nevertheless, this was one more all ages show and that meant an early start and almost no break after work. So, we started our trip almost 2 hours before the door opening in order to fight the weather and deal with the heavy traffic. But this was not enough since around the venue things were even worse; there was no one to direct the traffic in the valet parking slots (where you had to pay $20) thus there were stationary cars lines, making the frustration even bigger. The gods were good to us and we found a parking spot located a couple of blocks far from the venue. Man, the wind chills were brutal! Entering the venue, there was almost chaos; there were only two lines in front of the will call box offices, the floor was quite slippery and there was no info where to get the press credentials. Come on, our schedule was already far behind... To cut a long story short, we found ourselves inside the humid venue just to watch the three last songs from VOLBEAT’s setlist. (irony mode on) Thank you for making this experience that pleasant! (irony mode off).
I was very curious to watch VOLBEAT live without Thomas Bredahl, having Hank Shermann as his onstage replacement. But while watching the band performing “The Mirror And The Ripper” I realized this was not the band I had watched twice the previous year. There was no energy flowing from the stage that also looked kind of unbalanced, without having Bredahl’s punk attitude and restless presence. This has nothing to do with Hank Shermann who played his guitar role in perfection. The VOLBEAT looked a little bit tired and this is not a surprise to me, since the Danish band has been on the road for quite some time, dealing with a lot of travelling around the world. The heavy and groovy “Pool Of Booze, Booze, Booza”, the most melodic “Still Counting” or the “Raining Blood” SLAYER snippet did nothing to change my impression and my disappointment. I will conclude this report giving many kudos and absolute respect to Hank Shermann and putting a huge question mark upon the next VOLBEAT step.
01. “A Warrior's Call”
02. “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood”
03. “The Human Instrument”
04. “Sad Man's Tongue”
05. “Hallelujah Goat”
06. “Who They Are”
08. “The Mirror And The Ripper”
09. “Pool Of Booze, Booze, Booza”
10. “Still Counting”
MariaV: This would be the 14th time watching MOTÖRHEAD live inside and outside the US and I have to admit that it was one of the best (maybe at the same level of the one in Manchester, UK a couple of years ago). You see, it’s quite difficult to for a MOTÖRHEAD fan to choose his/hers favorite Lemmy &Co show. But hey, this night was one of the coldest, with a f**king rigid snow all over the place and we definitely needed something really strong to defeat that sh**ty situation! Of course, I had my doubts entering the chaotic Aragon Ballroom that made VOLBEAT sound like a B-class band, but I had to trust my gut and my devotion to the golden Rock ‘n’ Roll trio that hears in the name ‘MOTÖRHEAD’.
At 8:20pm, the lights went out, the war’s sirens of “Bomber” started wailing and the first warm applauds and cheers were a fact, getting the venue ready for a full of Rock night. The three gentlemen took their places upon the huge stage of Aragon and of course everyone’s eyes nailed once again on Lemmy’s cool and simple outfit (behind the high mic stand) and his Rickenbacker 4004LK with the three pickups and the gold hardware, making it even more appropriate to be held by a God (if you were expected to read an objective report, please stop the reading now). You see, a MOTÖRHEAD show is based on details and those are that make special every single time. I had to admit though, that my only complaint from the last time I watched MOTÖRHEAD live (about a year ago, in the States again) was the same setlist for the third time in a row; that was really a turn off (especially for a MOTÖRHEAD fan who doesn’t lose a MOTÖRHEAD concert, no matter the weather conditions), since I expected from them to add a couple of songs from their latest album and not just repeat the same ‘safe’ recipe with the all time classics on board. Well, it seems that MOTÖRHEAD choose ‘Gigantour’ to make the difference and I have to say they gave us a hell of a time!
“Damage Case” was one more a classic that didn’t have to try too hard to set the night on fire, but the brand new “I Know How To Die” fulfilled my wish and made things a bit spicy. Well, the crowd’s reaction to the new songs was not what I expected, since the majority of the people who attend concerts nowadays want to hear the ol’ stuff but what the hell? “This is MOTÖRHEAD, they play Rock ‘n’ Roll”, so take it or leave it, people! Thank God, Aragon’s low sound quality seemed to be defeated by the MOTÖRHEAD’s tunes and since there is only one guitar, things were quite simple here; so, we totally enjoyed the bass-driven tunes to the max, without affecting the overall sound. “It seems that MOTÖRHEAD’s sound is not influenced by anything”, I thought and smiling enjoyed the rest of the concert.
The all time lovable “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch” was nailed by Phil on the guitar who he didn’t stop walking around the stage and Lemmy on vocals who was in great shape and mood that night, while “The One To Sing The Blues” that followed next was a pleasant surprise in MOTÖRHEAD’s setlist, since replaced “Sacrifice” (or the latest “In The Name Of Tragedy”) in Mikkey’s drum solo (who he didn’t change the way he pounds the drums every time he does his solo, not a single bit). The nice light changes with the golden and blue colors gave a more baronial feeling during Mikkey’s solo and the white spotlights didn’t stop a moment to follow his flying sticks when he began to throw them one after the other on his right and left side non-stop. “Going To Brazil” was next and Lemmy wanted to dedicate it to the Chicagonian crowd, but made a joke saying that we were not Brazilians or we didn’t want to go to Brazil, so he skipped that and started to unleash the bass tunes, making the whole Aragon hall to dance and shake along the Rock ‘n’ Roll melodies.
Without useless pauses and straight to the point, MOTÖRHEAD lead us to home with “Killed By Death”, “Ace Of Spades” and of course “Overkill”, trying to satisfy every fan by including as much songs as they could during their hourly set, while Lemmy pounded the bass and then (definitely his signature move) bringing the show to a closure. Lemmy, Phil and Mikkey came in the front part of the enormous stage and bowed down to thank their crowd who came to see them that cold night, looked so happy! Lemmy said “Don’t forget us, we are MOTÖRHEAD, we play Rock ‘n’ Roll” and after they threw some guitar picks and drum sticks to the fans, they left the stage. I wish I had one more hour to rock the house for good but this was ‘Gigantour’ after all and it was time for MEGADETH to hit the stage. Damn, some bands like MOTÖRHEAD should always be the headliners!
02. “Damage Case”
03. “I Know How To Die”
04. “Stay Clean”
05. “Over The Top”
06. “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch”
07. “The One To Sing The Blues”
08. “Going To Brazil”
09. “Killed By Death”
10. “Ace Of Spades”
(click to enlarge)
DimK: After the very good set by MOTÖRHEAD (that was better than the previous time but still in a high level), it was time for MEGADETH. I was sure what to expect from Mustaine’s band after having read his bio, his constant METALLICA references and the just above average “Th1rt3en”. Ok, the band did very well on the stage of last year’s ‘Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival’ but this was a headlining spot and the expectations were much higher.
So, after a 10 minute delay, the light went out and the intro of “Trust” kicked in and moments later the black curtain in front of the stage fell, welcoming the band onstage. I don’t understand why they have chosen this one to start their set; it is just a good song but it’s not the heavy and in-your-face setlist opener I’d like from a band like MEGADETH. Nevertheless, the more than 3000 US metalheads responded with enthusiasm and started singing along the catchy chorus. The next one set the record straight and made me feel really unlucky being at the photo-pit since “Wake Up Dead” is an amazing track with a killer rhythm section to snap your neck with. The first waves of crowd-surfers started hitting the venue’s bouncers who fortunately knew their work and just dealt with the MEGA-fans with respect. And then they rushed off the photo-pit even if we had one more song on our disposal as the press credentials clearly stated that. So, I did not have the time to enjoy this ultra-hit and Chris Broderick’s guitar magik. I think he has gained more confidence onstage and he looks an equal driving force with Mustaine. This has nothing to do with his guitar-playing that as I said it was stellar. It was the way he was communicating with the audience and how he provoked the fans in the barriers to give more and more energy. After all, David Ellefson is the silent force in MEGADETH’s machine without having that strong onstage persona capable to get something more from the audience.
Mustaine was very talkative and clearly very happy and grateful for the response from every one inside Aragon Ballroom. In fact, he looked nicer than I’d prefer as the frontman of MEGADETH. Don’t get me wrong here, since I am not talking about acting like a superstar; it’s just felt a little bit lukewarm and tuned down a little bit. Fortunately, that feeling went away during the amazing “Foreclosure Of A Dream” that Mustaine delivered with the solid irony we all loved during the “Countdown To Extinction” days (what an amazing album!). The lyrics of this song sound terrifying fit for these days were all live in trying to battle against the economic crisis all the politics have placed us. And then, it was time for Ellefson and the awesome bass driven “Dawn Patrol” that along the green lights brought the radiation aesthetics from “Rust In Peace”. During this track, I realized that the sound was not that loud as I’d like, but on the other hand, after MOTÖRHEAD, it’s not easy for a band to play louder, right?
And it was time to take a break since MEGADETH were about to play the almost ballad “A Tout Le Monde”. Mustaine invited LACUNA COIL’s Cristina Scabbia who showed up wearing something that looked pretty strange to my fashion-untrained eyes, making me think “Come on, this is a Metal concert and not a fashion gala…”. The following three tracks from the latest album did nothing special to fix my lukewarm mood until the trademark intro of “Symphony Of Destruction” had kicked in! The solid guitar-driven groove and Mustaine’s expressional singing and the louder volume blew my mind and counterbalanced the previous setlist break. “Peace Sells” was next giving us another chance to feast our ears and eyes with the incredible guitar duo that also set the end of MEGADETH regular setlist. Here, I’d like to comment on the band’s habit of leaving the stage after every track; this was only spoiling the band’s and the audience’s momentum that had to have a continuity to keep the setlist solid. After every track, the ritual was: lights out and the band members off the stage from every side. I know, strange, right?
“This is dedicated to the US administration” said Mustaine as a preamble to the classic MEGADETH concert closer that was - of course - “Holy Wars... The Punishment Due”. As always, this is the climax point for the lead guitars where Mustaine and Broderick nailed the solos exchanging roles at ease. This was another affirmation to my thought that those two have formed an extremely solid guitar duo. The show ended with the classic motto: “You have been great, we have been MEGADETH” with just Mustaine onstage... pretty strange, right?
02. “Wake Up Dead”
03. “Hangar 18”
05. “Foreclosure Of A Dream”
06. “Dawn Patrol’
07. “Poison Was The Cure”
08. “Head Crusher”
09. “A Tout Le Monde”
10. “Public Enemy No. 1”
11. “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)”
12. “Guns, Drugs & Money”
13. “Symphony Of Destruction”
14. “Peace Sells”
15. “Holy Wars... The Punishment Due”
(click to enlarge)
If one leaves aside the organization issues and the terrible weather that made us spent more time inside the car than need, ‘Gigantour’ was a nice experience. MEGADETH proved to be nice hosts, having a great billing with them this time. I just hope that if the next installment will be hosted in a better venue with less echo and no slippery stairs...