Friday Night: Megadeth At Verizon Wireless Theater

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Gigantour: Megadeth, Volbeat, Lacuna Coil Verizon Wireless Theater March 2, 2012

Check out our slideshow of the Gigatour.

No, Motorhead didn't play in Houston Friday night at Verizon Wireless Theater, but the rest of the 2012 Gigantour bill of Megadeth, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil made it to the Bayou City. Lemmy Kilmister and his gang had circled back to Los Angeles for Kilmister to get some much-needed rest and recuperation after battling throat issues for the past two weeks.

But that doesn't mean the show was a wash was by any means. All three bands turned in great sets, despite the sad-eyed men and women in Motorhead tees lingering inside and outside the venue. There were plenty of toasts to Lemmy's health (Jack & Coke natch), as the night went on. Volbeat even managed to plunk in a cameo of "Ace of Spades" into one of their own songs.

First band Lacuna Coil began their set before most of the metalheads in the long line outside even got into the house. The Italian metal band, lead by the stunning Cristina Scabbia, got to enjoy a longer set than they had been able to on previous nights. All three bands got a chance to stretch their legs with the hole in the bill.

Volbeat were a big surprise of the night, a Danish punk/metal hybrid doing a great mash-up of Helmet and Social Distortion at turns. The bellow of lead singer Michael Poulsen was the most infectious thing of the evening, attaching a dashing air to their midnight-flesh-hunting-ready cuts. The hint of psychobilly in their stew was palpable to most everyone, though their roots are in the Danish death-metal scene.

Metal geeks in the know were thrilled to see Mercyful Fate's Hank Shermann on guitar for Volbeat for this Gigantour jaunt, replacing former axeman Thomas Bredahl, though his clean-cut image probably didn't scream "I used to share the same stage with King Diamond".

Megadeth came into Houston with plenty of publicity behind them, though of the more coarse variety, with lead singer Dave Mustaine's Christian political values coming through louder than the band's music lately. Even their newest album, the quality Thirteen, seems to have been forgotten amidst stories of Mustaine's sometimes unpopular religious views.

Friday's set list merrily skipped around the band's nearly 30-year history, opening with "Trust" from 1997's mostly ignored fan favorite Cryptic Writings. Around song three, Rust In Peace's "Hangar 18," Mustaine was pelted with what looked like half of a cup of beer, leading to the band exiting the stage for a few minutes, with Mustaine returning to remind the crowd that beer ruins guitars. A minute or two went by and the band returned to the stage.

Mustaine also welcomed Scabbia back to the stage to join him on "A Tout Le Monde" from 1994's Youthanasia , giving the boys and girls one last glimpse of the metal maiden.

The middle of the set came loaded with Thirteen cuts, including lead single "Public Enemy No. 1." With the presidential election year in full-swing and Mustaine's convictions long laid on the table -- just watch his Alex Jones appearances on YouTube -- it was hard to ignore the overtones in the set list.

The deeper that the world gets into the Iran mess, a song like "Peace Sells" will take on a different meaning. Megadeth seems almost over-ready for some sort of future cataclysm, making an album like Countdown To Extinction a tad more prescient. Although the world has been ending for the past 2,000 years.

Mustaine doesn't show any signs of tempering his views, however much they may go against that of the larger metal community. Though if you have been paying attention to Megadeth and Mustaine for the past three decades, you know he has never played the game.

Personal Bias: Oh man, Megadeth played "Angry Again" from the greatest soundtrack to the greatest movie of June 1993, Last Action Hero. OK, I was too excited, but I could see a lot of other guys who were too. Jack Slater Forever.

The Crowd: Every metal show I have been to lately, at least the ones featuring legacy acts like Iron Maiden and Megadeth are becoming increasingly dotted with three generations of families. Fathers, sons, and grandsons. Where's Mom??

Overheard In the Crowd: "I wish it was louder." Yes, Motorhead was missed, but Mustaine and company held up their end of the bill.

Random Notebook Dump: The smoking section at the venue had to be extended by 10 feet. It was that kind of crowd.


Trust Foreclosure of a Dream Hangar 18 She-Wolf Hook in Mouth Public Enemy No. 1 Whose Life (Is It Anyways?) Guns, Drugs & Money Angry Again Dawn Patrol Poison Was the Cure A Tout Le Monde (with Lacuna Coil's Cristina Scabbia) Symphony of Destruction Peace Sells


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