As musicians, there are some bands that reached out from the speakers, grabbed us by the souls and inspired us in more ways than they will ever know. On this Wednesday evening, I was humbled and blessed to be in the presence of not one, but two bands who are legends in their individual genres, and whose hold on me has only tightened as the years have gone by. So, without further ado, join me as we lose ourselves in the majesty of In Flames and Megadeth.
In the darkness the sounds of an acoustic guitar and strings played over the sound system, the unmistakable Swedish melodies that In Flames have become renowned for echoed in the stadium in harmony with the roars of the crowd. This was The Beginning of All Things That Will End, and it heralded the appearance of the band that was the soundtrack to my childhood.
They strode out on stage and went straight into The Great Deceiver from their new album, Foregone. Frontman Anders Fridén told us to expect a set list that he called a 10 out of 10 - and my God, did they deliver.
My mind raced with the possibilities of what material from their impressive catalogue they might perform and I was answered with the iconic track, Pinball Map, which was followed by arguably one of their biggest hits, Cloud Connected.
What they played next would have pleased the most devoted of In Flames fans. Taking us all the way back to the very beginning, the song and the album that inspired a whole generation of bands - Behind Space from their debut album, Lunar Strain.
What proceeded was akin to being placed in a time machine as we navigated our way through their discography. Graveland from The Jester Race, The Hive from Whoracle, Only For The Weak from Clayman and My Sweet Shadow from Soundtrack To Your Escape.
I don’t usually go into such intricate detail with regards to the set list but in this case, it was so spectacular that I felt it would be remiss of me not to mention it for all the Jesterheads out there.
We were then returned to the present with Foregone Pt. 1 and State of Slow Decay.
The current band line up of -
Anders Fridén - Vocals
Björn Gelotte - Guitars
Chris Broderick- Guitars
Bryce Paul - Bass
Tanner Wayne - Drums
- sound incredible together. Tanner and Bryce lock in really well with each other and deliver truckloads of groove to the rhythm section. Chris Broderick adds his decades of experience and finesse as a guitarist to the band and elevates their sound to new heights. Playing complex passages with ease while rocking quite possibly the most impressive set of guns in the industry.
Anders Fridén and Björn Gelotte are without a doubt the beating heart of In Flames and they sound better than ever. Time has aged them like a fine wine, bringing about maturity and complexity, but losing none of the youthful joie de vivre.
The set concluded with Alias, I Am Above and Take This Life. As a man I can only imagine that this is what the fabled multiple orgasm must feel like.
But be still my beating heart, for this is only the beginning. As the Kings depart the stage we braced ourselves for the Gods. Megadeth were about to appear.
Two massive screens flanked the stage with the drum kit set in the middle like a jewel in a crown. Images of flames, death and destruction flashed across the screens as Prince of Darkness played. Megadeth strode out on to the stage with the presence and subtlety of a supernova, and exploded into Hanger 18. The crowd had greatly enjoyed In Flames but this was undoubtedly Megadeth’s family. Any energy that they might have withheld before now detonated through a series of convulsions.
The call and response solo trade-off between Dave Mustaine and Kiko Loureiro simultaneously inspired and discouraged every guitarist in attendance. It seems otherworldly to witness such a combination of technical brilliance and showmanship before your eyes.
They followed this up with Dread and The Fugitive Mind and The Threat Is Real. Dave Mustaine then took some time to regale us with the tale of how the next song came into being.
Arnold Schwarzenegger had wanted a song written for the movie, The Last Action Hero. Dave wrote the lyrics inspired by a dream he had, where ex-drummer Nick Menza had accidentally kicked over one of his beloved guitars and that is how we were blessed with the track, Angry Again. As the band began playing Sweating Bullets the crowd’s reaction can be eloquently described as - going ape-shit crazy. They practically sang the song on Dave’s behalf and made sure that the security worked hard for their pay-checks last night.
To the casual observer these scenes might look chaotic and violent but at a Megadeth show, this is a unique marriage of brutality juxtaposed against brotherhood; a special kind of bonding on an intangible level that is enjoyed and appreciated by the fans.
Another benefit of this environment was that there were a lot less phones out filming in the pit and the audience were able to lose themselves in the music with total abandon.
The freight train of a set continued ploughing through us with She-Wolf, Conquer or Die, Dystopia, Tornado of Souls and Trust. At this stage Dave spoke about getting diagnosed with cancer in 2020 and how when friends heard about this they replied by saying: “ I feel sorry for cancer.”
I’m inclined to agree with that sentiment, for Dave Mustaine is genuinely a force to be reckoned with. Nothing stops this man and his unrelenting will and vision. Through one of life’s most painful and cruel trials he wrote and recorded the phenomenal album, The Sick, The Dying & The Dead, and then he blew us away with the performance of We’ll Be Back.
Megadeth’s current lineup boasts some of Metal’s biggest names.
Kiko Loureiro, who made his name as a part of the Brazilian Power Metal behemoth, Angra, awed us with his fretboard wizardry and firmly cemented his seat alongside the legendary guitarists who have stood in his place. James Lomenzo on bass has a staggeringly impressive resume, having been an integral part of influential bands such as White Lion, Black Label Society and Slash’s Snakepit. Completing the all-star team, is the hard-hitting master of the skins, Dirk Verbeuren - formerly of Soilwork. Each of them are obviously virtuosos at their individual instruments, but together they are a force to be reckoned with. Spell-binding in their performances but always serving the song and Dave’s unique artistic vision.
The set concluded with the epochal, Symphony of Destruction and the thought-provoking, Peace Sells - a song whose lyrics are perhaps more relevant today than when they were first put to paper.
We were physically and emotionally spent by this stage. However, Megadeth weren’t done with us just yet. Dave Mustaine thanked the crowd in a speech that I’ve heard a million times before yet there was a palpable earnestness in the way he said it that I’ve seldom felt.
For an encore they played,
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.
The audience reaction was a testament to the human spirit and its propensity for endurance as they moshed the hardest they had done all night.
The show ended after two massive hours, but Megadeth will live on eternally in our hearts and minds. Seeing the vast number of young fans who were probably seeing Megadeth live for the first time filled me with a sense of hope that I haven’t felt in a long time.
It’s easy to despair when we look at where music is now and reflect upon the lofty heights from which it fell. Do we push forward with optimism or calculate with pessimism? Perhaps the answer to that is a healthy dose of both and nobody has summed it up better than Dave Mustaine.
“If there's a new way
I'll be the first in line
But it better work this time.”
Megadeth & In Flames will be back on stage at the very first KNOTFEST AUSTRALIA kicking off tomorrow in Melbourne!
KNOTFEST AUSTRALIA 2023
Slipknot | Parkway Drive | Megadeth | Trivium | Northlane | Amon Amarth
In Flames Knocked Loose | Spiritbox | Story Of The Year | Alpha Wolf
Void Of Vision | Bad Omens | Malevolence
DATES AND VENUES:
Friday 24 March 2023 - Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne SOLD OUT
Saturday 25 March 2023 - Centennial Park, Sydney SOLD OUT
Sunday 26 March 2023 - RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane SOLD OUT
Information available at destroyalllines.com
March 24th, 2023 - Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Saturday 25 March 2023 - Centennial Park, Sydney
Sunday 26 March 2023 - RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane