When people hear the name Megadeth they either cringe or get excited, dependent on their feelings about heavy metal. Although the ones that get excited may be in the minority, the cringers should maybe try to view things from the other side of that “metal” fence just this once, because this is one of the best thrash metal bands around - well, they were. Due to frontman and creator Dave Mustaine suffering a serious injury to his left arm earlier this year, it was announced that he would be leaving Megadeth and therefore causing the demise of the band. At this stage in time it is unknown what the rest of the band will be doing, but Mustaine plans to focus on his family and possibly look at other means of contributing to the music industry.
So after almost 20 years and several line up changes, Megadeth have called it a day. Thankfully for a legion of fans worldwide they have produced a masterful collection of music that can still be enjoyed. Rude Awakenings is surprisingly their first ever live recording and being released on both CD and DVD it gives the fans something to truly treasure. Although they did venture into the world of “radio friendly” music for a while, they have since returned to the basics - pumping out double kick drum bass lines and tons of guitar solos.
Recorded at the end of their World Needs A Hero tour, this footage is a combination of shows recorded at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson, Arizona on November 16th 2001 and at the Webb Theatre in Phoenix the following night. This release truly captures the band in their prime. Original members Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson are still there, along with later additions Al Pitrelli and Jimmy Degrasso to put on a kick ass show. Some would argue this was the best line-up of the band and perhaps the fact that they were a lot more sober during these days helps too. Although the footage used is from two shows, it is next to impossible to separate the two due to excellent editing.
Dread and the Fugitive Mind
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
Return to Hangar
Hook in Mouth
1000 Times Goodbye
Tornado of Souls
Ashes in Your Mouth
Symphony of Destruction
From the opening Dread and the Fugitive Mind (one of my personal favourites) the band are in fine form. The stage is a very basic set up, simply a backdrop of Marshall speakers, either side of the drums - very basic but very effective. The familiar snarl of Mustaine is there and a crowd that is in the mood to party do just that. Although these are only small venues, it is not what you would class as intimate. Sometimes the smaller venues can give a sense of an unplugged gig, but I personally can’t imagine Megadeth without electricity. The double kick drums of Jimmy Degrasso kick into overdrive and the brilliant rhythm guitar riffs of Mustaine and skilful leads of Pitrelli are outstanding, never missing a beat. The band really does sound great, covering their impressive history in this show that runs for 107:08.
Megadeth are not the sort of band to prance around the stage or even excessively head-bang, but this is simply because of the complexity of their songs. Dave Mustaine is not the best vocalist in the world, but his voice suits this style of music perfectly, just try singing while playing the guitar at the speed he does! They are however about the music, a unique style of music maybe but one that true metal fans seem to love.
For more information on the band, be sure to check out my other review on Megadeth – Behind The Music.
Sadly the video presentation is disappointing to say the least. Presented in full frame and therefore not 16x9 enhanced, this transfer doesn't do the show justice. Sharpness is reasonable, but there is a constant problem with grain. There are many problems caused by stage lighting and this transfer manages to display them all. Detail is a consistent problem as is low level noise. Pixelisation is a major problem along with aliasing, at times being a strain on the eyes as it seems to become blurred. This is a real shame for this show as the direction is very good, giving every angle of the band and capturing the performance well, but sadly ruined by the transfer quality.
At least with the audio things are more positive. Audio tracks available are Dolby Digital 2.0 and DD 5.1. The DD 2.0 is good, clear at all times and well balanced across the front speakers, but the DD 5.1 is the track of choice. Sound is very crisp, with the band noise kept primarily across the front speakers, using the rears for the constant crowd noise and some echo effect. The band does sound terrific and this audio transfer captures that superbly. The subwoofer did bounce across the room a few times, but not as much as expected, mainly only for the drumming. There are occasional problems with synch, but nothing too noticeable. My only concern was with the crowd noise, at times it seems a little too much. Whether the crowd was that loud or not is debateable and in my opinion it has either been added on later or simply increased in volume for effect. This is by no means a problem, just a slight annoyance. Megadeth are a band that excels in live situations and this audio track captures the terrific sound of the band and the atmosphere of being there.
There are a few nice extras on this disc to accompany this great show.
Underground Live Show
When I first selected this extra, I thought it might be footage of a warm up gig of some form captured by a Handycam. What this actually is, however, is footage from the same concerts as the main feature, simply made to look "underground". To do this, they have made the majority of footage black and white and added grain (like it needed any more!) There are a few other effects thrown in, but this is more a show to listen to rather than watch. The songs performed are Kill the King, Angry Again, Almost Honest, Train of Consequences and A Tout Le Monde. Again the sound provided is DD 5.1 and it is in full frame, running for 20:30.
Megadeth on Megadeth
Featuring a selection of interviews with the band members, they discuss various topics such as how they came to be and why they recorded this show. This is very informative and runs for 12:54.
Gargano on Megadeth
Featuring nine pages of text, this is an article from rock journalist Paul Gargano about the career of Megadeth. This is an interesting account from basically a fan’s point of view.
Get More Megadeth
Covered here are a few pages advertising recent releases by the band.
This is actually the close of the main feature with the band taking their curtain call. A nice aspect about this is the guys recording an advertisement for the DVD, but this can be watched at the end of watching the main feature.
Overall this is a must have for Megadeth and metal fans alike. Be warned that the video transfer is poor, but this is still a great show with great sound, capturing the band at their peak. Sadly they have now disbanded, but this will be a good reminder of what they were all about. I would love to be able to say it is a concert that non-metal fans will enjoy but sadly they won’t.