REVIEW: MEGADETH & Co. Play A Symphony of Destruction in Newark

I don’t go to New Jersey for very many things; AC/DCNightwishBlack SabbathFleetwood MacMEGADETH. That’s about the extent of my desire to go to New Jersey. Occasionally I’ll pass through on the way to Philly, but even that requires more time spent in Jersey than I’d like. On this night, last Friday, I did the unthinkable and set out on a trek to Newark to cover MEGADETH at Newark’s Prudential Center. I’ll admit right off the bat that the rest of the lineup was uber appealing; not only was MEGADETH headlining an arena show in the NYC area for the first time in god knows how long, but they were bringing Amon Amarth (!!!!), Suicidal Tendencies (!!!), Metal Church and Butcher Babies along for the ride. The first and only other time I saw MEGADETH was way back in 2008 while they were still running with Gigantour, which featured at the time Children of BodomIn FlamesHigh On Fire and Job For A Cowboy. It’s worth mentioning that 3 of those bands are coming to town before the end of the year, while Job For A Cowboy seems to have faded into oblivion. That show was at a very poorly mic’d Hammerstein Ballroom here in NYC, where a friend took an elbow to the face in the mosh pit that broke his nose, and nearly 9 years later my ears are still ringing.

So it should come as no surprise that I haven’t been back to a MEGADETH show until last week, and naturally I was hoping for a more enjoyable experience – one that didn’t end with a trip to the audiologist – and I’m happy to report that I got just what I wanted. So let’s jump right into it with Butcher Babies. This was my second time seeing them, the first was earlier this year while they were supporting Cradle of Filth. I’m not really a fan, but they’re supposed to be fun to photograph and have great lighting. They’re 0-for-2 on the lighting, and they’re not much fun to photograph, but I will say that they’re a very talented pair of females who can definitely bring the noise with the best of them ad are a great way to start a long night, even though their time on stage was limited to 5 songs.

Heidi Shepherd of Butcher Babies
Heidi Shepherd of Butcher Babies

Up next was Metal Church, who I’ve heard amazing things about but never saw live. Their set was also limited to 5 songs, which is a huge disappointment because these guys are absolutely incredible and I really would have loved to see them play longer. They kicked things off with Fake Healer, played Start The Fire (clearly Metal Church are responsible for that fire Billy Joel was talking about), No TomorrowBadlands and finally Beyond The Black. Again, 5 songs, and the band certainly made use of their limited time by kicking ass with 5 incredible metal songs, but they’re a band that needed to be allowed to play longer, especially when the band following them talked literally forever.

Mike Howe of Metal Church

Suicidal Tendencies would follow, and they would get 7 songs (this should have been reversed with Metal Church, to be honest) and man, these guys absolutely do not stay still. I’ve never seen a full band jump around so much and I’m not sure how these guys manage to play so well while running and jumping all over the stage. They were another first timer for me, and opened up with You Can’t Bring Me Down. Other songs included Trip at the BrainSubliminal and Pledge Your Allegiance. I don’t know much about ST, but I do know their antics are hilarious and somehow they manage to play music while flying across the stage like blurs. I’ll definitely be looking for them to come to the area again, hopefully on a headline tour, because ST are absolutely incredible and I’m going to be a huge fan once I start listening to them heavily.

Jeff Pogan of Suicidal Tendencies

After ST, I was treated to Amon Amarth, who were easily the best band on the lineup not named MEGADETH. I learned something about Amon Amarth instantly, when they opened with Twilight of the Thunder God, which I only know as a Sabaton song but is apparently a cover of an AA song. Like two of the three bands before them, this was my first time seeing Amon Amarth, who I had never really listened to but am now a huge fan of, and their 9-song set was nothing short of stellar. However, like all the bands before them, I wish they had more time. The band’s set featured a bunch of songs I don’t know and am now listening to on YouTube, tracks like The Pursuit of VikingsOn A Sea of BloodFirst KillRaise Your Horns and ended with Guardians of Asgaard. These guys, man, what can I say about Amon Amarth? They’re absolutely unbelievable, they made me a huge fan and I can’t wait for them to come around again. Even if MEGADETH weren’t headlining, Amon Amarth alone would have been worth the trip. Add them to my list of bands I’ll go to New Jersey for.

Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth
Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth

And finally, it was time for the titans of metal, the night’s main attraction, MEGADETH, to grace the stage. Dave Mustaine’s 9/11 conspiracy theory aside, MEGADETH have always been a great band, even if I am a huge Metallica fan (and yes, I wore the obligatory Metallica shirt to the show) – and I finally got see them at a show that didn’t suck due to the sound tech botching literally everything the first time I saw them. It only took 8 1/2 years, but MEGADETH finally treated me to the performance I knew they should have put on that April night at Hammerstein, with a 17 song barrage of some the best heavy metal on earth.

Opening with Hangar 18 and closing with the obligatory Holy Wars…The Punishment Due, the meat between that epic metal sandwich included many classics as well as many recent tracks off Dystopia, for which the band was on its second US leg in support. My only disappointment is that MEGADETH didn’t play one of my favorite songs, Kill The King, but they did treat me to TrustA Tout Le Monde and Symphony of Destruction before it was all over. I’ll take those 3 tracks every time, I just wish Kill The King had been included.

The rest of the set list, however, did nothing to disappoint. Wake Up DeadIn My Darkest HourSweating BulletsTornado of SoulsPost American WorldDystopia and Peace Sells just to name a few, left little to be desired. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I can live without Kill The King when the rest of the set is incredible and the performance is the stuff of legends. There’s a reason MEGADETH have been around seemingly forever, and it’s because they’re one of the last true icons of metal and have yet to slow down even as Father Time is knocking at the door.

I swore all those years ago that I’d never see another MEGADETH show after the debacle at Hammerstein, but what the hell was I thinking? I’ve been missing out – I missed them when they played two nights at Terminal 5 here in NYC earlier this year, and I’m glad I did, because I got to see what was unquestionably the much better show. A lineup like the one presented on this Friday night in Newark is virtually unbeatable, and MEGADETH & Co showed why this show should have sold out instantly. Instead, the 4,500 or so in attendance were treated to a night of mind blowing performances from some of the coolest names in metal, and it was worth every second. MEGADETH still kicks ass, and probably always will.

Check out our MEGADETH gallery below:

MEGADETH’S own Dave Mustaine performs at Prudential Center on October 14th, 2016