“Welcome to 3/4 of Gigantour” snickered Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine about halfway through his band’s headlining set at the Fillmore last night. He was referring to the cancellation of veteran rockers Motorhead (also scheduled on the bill) due to Rock God Lemmy succumbing to illness.
This is the second no show from Motorhead in recent years. One has to wonder: does Lemmy have something against the Mile High City or is the seemingly indestructible living legend just getting to old to growl in the thin air? Regardless, it was a HUGE disappointment to long-time fans who specifically went to the show to see Motorhead, including this reviewer.
As Megadeth was the headlining act, no refunds would be offered to any disgruntled ticketholders. So the sold out event went on as planned and in the end thoroughly satisfied the throng of metalheads packed throughout the auditorium.
An international set of openers included Italy’s Lacuna Coil performing a brief set of its sleekly, stylized, yet largely forgettable gothic metal. They were followed by Denmark’s Volbeat who presented its set of psychobilly meets Metallica-infused thrashy pop and offered a nod to the missing Motorhead by teasing the crowd with a bit of “Ace of Spades” before closing the set with another tease — an unfinished run-through of Slayer’s “Raining Blood.”
After an extended break, Megadeth started weakly with “Trust” and “Foreclosure of a Dream.” Fortunately, the band tightened up with a searing rendition of “Hangar 18″ from its lauded 1990 LP “Rust in Piece” and the crowd responded in kind with pumped fists, banged heads and at least two mosh pits.
From there, the band ran through a set of mid-to-late career-spanning hits that offered strong versions of “Sweating Bullets,” (which had fans snarling along to lines like “Hello me, it’s me again”) “Polaris,” and “Symphony of Destruction,” as well as a limp duet with Lacuna Coil’s Christina Scabbia: “A Tout Le Monde.” They also served up an impressive three-song run through cuts from its latest LP “Th1rt3en” highlighted by “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)”
Regardless of what you think of Mustaine’s erratic beliefs (some of which have made headlines recently), you have to admit he does rock. This was awesomely apparent as he traded leads with shredding Denver-native Chris Broderick on tunes like “Ashes In Your Mouth.”
And, he does take care of his fans. In addition to giving away one of his guitars on stage to a radio contest winner, Mustaine got into it with a security guard who had been roughing up concertgoers at the front of the venue. He later dedicated a cover of Motorhead’s “No Class” to the roughneck employee and at the same time thanked the disappointed Motorhead devotees who stuck around.
The band closed out the evening of their extended set with two gems, the signature “Peace Sells” and and incendiary take on “Holy Wars … The Punishment Due.”
Michael Behrenhausen is a Denver-based writer, musician and regular Reverb contributor. The worst crime he ever did was play some rock ‘n’ roll.
John Leyba is a Denver Post photojournalist and regular contributor to Reverb.