Megadeth at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI

Megadeth leads a metal onslaught on The Metal Tour of the Year with support from Lamb of God, Trivium, and In Flames.

Swedish metal band In Flames get things rolling with a short but solid set. They kick it off with the popular “Cloud Connected” which has guitarists Bjorn Gelotte and Chris Broderick leading the axe attack. Having been around for 30+ years now, they have a lot of albums to pull from and they go all the way back to Lunar Strain from 1994 to play “Behind Space” which has some wicked fast drumming. “Everything’s Gone,” “Where the Dead Ships Dwell,” and two songs from the album I, The Mask, “Call My Name” and “I Am Above,” have the early arriving fans fired up. Lead singer Anders Friden sounds great tonight and before “I Am Above” encourages the crowd with a shout out of “let’s move!” as they open up a mosh pit. They close it out with “Take This Life” from Come Clarity, another song featuring some rapid-fire drumming by Tanner Wayne that really gets the fans moving. It’s a great start for The Metal Tour of the Year.

Next up is Florida thrash metal and metalcore band Trivium, who keep the energy up with a set of blistering songs that put the focus heavily on guitarists Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu. They join up often on stage to tear through some leads with Corey whipping his hair around. The first two songs are both from the 2021 album In the Court of the Dragon, including the title track and “Like a Sword Over Damocles.” The addition of drummer Alex Bent in 2016 was a great move as he lays down a rapid-fire beat that powers the songs along with the tight bass playing of Paolo Gregoletto. 

After “Throes of Perdition,” Matt introduces “Rain” by saying, “it’s old, fast, and it’s heavy.” That gets the fans jumping as Matt leads the charge. The latest single, “Feast of Fire,” features some cool backlighting and has the fans singing along. The band leaves the stage briefly as the instrumental “Capsizing the Sea” plays. Returning to the stage, Matt gets the crowd to crouch down low and then jump as they launch into the popular “In Waves” from the 2011 album of the same name. It also opens up a circle pit on the floor. Yet another great performance to keep amping up the crowd.

Richmond, VA metal band Lamb of God is up next. This is yet another band that has been around a long time having formed in 1994. They are normally led by high-flying vocalist Randy Blythe, but due to COVID-19, they have tapped Mark Turner from Chimaira to fill in tonight. And that he does for seven of the songs in the set. With only a day’s notice to prepare, Mark has some cheat sheet poster boards up front with the lyrics to the songs. Regardless, he does a great job. They open with “Memento Mori” and follow that with “Ruin,” before playing “Walk With Me in Hell” which features lots of red lights and tons of pyro across the back of the stage. As with the other bands tonight, they too feature a twin-guitar attack featuring Mark Morton and Willie Adler.

For “Resurrection Man,” they bring out Anders Friden to sing and he gives an awesome performance. Next, they play the highly popular “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For” which has drummer Art Cruz laying down a crushing beat, augmented by the tight, driving bass of John Campbell. It also brings the guitarists together for a shred fest. As the song slows down, Mark sings the line “burn,” and the flames light up the stage once again. This brings out huge cheers from the crowd. By this time many in the crowd are also in a large circle pit with many others crowd-surfing. For “512” and “Ghost Walking,” Matt Heafy takes on the vocal duties and puts a clean vocal twist on them. Some fans like it and others seem a bit disappointed. They ramp it back up with “Laid to Rest” and wrap it up with “Redneck” which has the fans head-banging, pumping their fists, and singing loudly. It is a great ending to a great set.

After a lengthy break, fans are anxious for one of the Big Four of metal, Megadeth, to take the stage. The lights dim and a black curtain drops to reveal a huge stack of speakers with video displays spaced between, drummer Dirk Verbeuren on top in the middle, and a huge Megadeth logo on display behind. They kick it off with fan-favorite “Hanger 18” from the classic album Rust In Peace. Vocalist and guitarist Dave Mustaine leads the song with Brazilian shredder Kiko Loureiro adding to the riff frenzy. He has been a great addition to the band and makes it look so easy as he smiles and headbangs, while his fingers dance across the fretboard at a blistering pace. Bassist James LoMenzo is back in the band after the firing of David Ellefson.

After a battle with throat cancer, Dave’s voice is a bit raspier, but he sounds great and the sound is dialed in tight across the vocals and all of the instruments. That is complemented by one of the best light and video shows that adds to the overall vibe. After “Dread and the Fugitive Mind,” Dave, Kiko, and James join together below the drummer for some jamming during “The Conjuring.” Dave introduces “She-Wolf” and the crowd goes wild. Following “Conquer or Die!,” they play “Dystopia” which finds Dave and Kiko meeting up for some killer guitar leads. Dave can still tear it up at the age of 60. Another fan favorite, “Sweating Bullets,” has the fans singing along.

Slowing things down for just a bit, they play “Trust” which features some killer guitar from Kiko. They wind things down with a trio of some of their most popular songs starting with the radio staple “Symphony of Destruction.” This song has everyone on their feet with its pulsing drums and guitar riffs. Next is the anthem “Peace Sells” with its familiar opening bass. They close it out with “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due.” This lengthy song kicks off with some rapid guitar from Dave and then quickly takes off with another dual guitar attack and thrashing drums. Complimented by some quick, swirling beams of light, it has the crowd once again going crazy as they mosh and head-bang. It is a great conclusion to a great night of metal.

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About Gary Pahlow 62 Articles
Gary is located in Rochester Hills, MI and has been officially photographing and writing concert reviews since early 2016. His main music interests are metal and hard rock, but he is also a fan of most genres including alternative, indie, jazz, and even some pop and country. When not covering or attending concerts, you can find him traveling with his wife or watching the Detroit Red Wings.