Review of MEGADETH at The Electric Ballroom on June 12th

Megadeth can surely be described as one of the biggest and most influential heavy metal bands ever to exist. This is a band that has been around for nearly 30 years, the majority of that at the forefront of the thrash metal movement, and which can sell out any normal size venue here in the UK. Hell, Megadeth could fill a stadium.

So it can only be described as ridiculous that in the week between playing Download and Hellfest, Megadeth would play a show at The Electric Ballroom in Camden, north London. Why ridiculous? Ok, the Electric Ballroom has a capacity of 1100. Yes, 1100.

Never have I been reminded of the golden days of the 80s as much as I was last Tuesday when I stepped out of Camden underground station to the sight of a queue of metallers stretching from the doors of the venue, way down the street and round the corner. I still couldn’t quite believe Megadeth were going to play in this venue, and I was feeling very nostalgic about the fact that the Ballroom had hosted an incredible show in November 1986 featuring English Dogs, Voivod and Possessed (you can read more about that show here: http://www.metalforcesmagazine.com/site/live-review-possessed-24-11-86/) which I missed, but it always made me want to go a gig there.

Once in the venue it was clear that it was at capacity. A tiny stage at the back of a small hall was obscured by hundreds of sweaty individuals gagging for MegaDave and crew to appear. At about 9pm they did and kicked off with Never Dead, from latest album Th1rt3en. Next up was Head Crusher and this was where the crowd went crazy.

There followed a further fifteen songs including such classics as Hangar 18, Poison Was The Cure, Symphony Of Destruction, A Toute Le Monde and Peace Sells (for full setlist see: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/megadeth/2012/electric-ballroom-london-england-53df3f49.html). 

The sound was superb, highlighting how acoustics are often so much more powerful in a small venue. Mustaine and Broderick’s guitars were crunchy, with Ellefson’s precision bass and Drover’s basic but effective drumming galloping along behind.

Time flies when you’re having fun though, and by 10.30pm they were closing their set with Holy Wars…The Punishment Due. It all seemed to be over far too quickly and I was genuinely sad after the band had taken their bows and left the to the sound of Silent Scorn.

Megadeth’s reasons for playing such a tiny gig, one which surely would not have made them much money at all, may well have been influenced by their current festival schedule and, who knows, maybe they wanted to do something that Metallica simply wouldn’t even contemplate.

However, one line from Dave Mustaine summed it up better than anything else. During a break between songs he asked for the house lights to be raised so he could see his audience. As a screaming, fist-pumping, crowd was illuminated Dave raised an eyebrow and smiled.

“This is why we did this”, he said.

Classic.

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