Review by Sheri Bicheno for MPM
When the words “Megadeth are doing a one off show” suddenly hits, you take that seriously. Given that it’s a one off show held in Japan and there you have it, one sold out show in Budoken and the proof is in the pudding really that Megadeth hit hard and big as much as they did 40 years ago.
FOURTY!!! Seems a surreal amount of time to be in the height of it all. But these guys are historically part of what shapes the metal music we have today.
Logging in to watch the stream, a privilege only a handful of people in the world have compared to the amount of people that were pouring into the show, I wasn’t expecting a well put together mini documentary before the show started.
Listening in to excited chattering whilst the live was waiting to be aired, a symbolic screen appears of MEGADETH in huge letters claiming the anticipation buzzing around the atmosphere.
After a short while, we’re taken to a very humble scene of Dirk Verbeuren in his home layered in deep snow, kissing his family goodbye and a heartfelt message to explain that he’s ready to be ”Flying from Finland to Japan. Looking forward to playing”…
Each clip unfolds of Megadeth stepping into their boots of musicianship and the process of leaving to fly to Japan. Kiko Loureiro tells us it’s been since 2017 since they’ve played there so it’s hugely special.
Dave Mustaine tells the taxi driver the ritual of staying up all night pretty much to leave at 4am to fly to Tokyo. Here, we have some clips of the beautiful sunrise over Tokyo and the commute to the show with some photography stops of the band before unloading crew and stage set up and lighting sets in.
Looking at the set up, it’s a big but humble stage!
During tuning, Kiko tells us the last time he was in Japan was with Anthrax and reminisces about playing in Japan previously.
We’re then taken to rehearsal and here, we’re introduced to previous band member Marty Friedman who was contacted by Dave weeks before to ask if he’d like to step in for some songs. Marty has been living in Japan for some time and tells us he’s excited to join Megadeth once more.
“I thought that I might get the call. Its impossible to turn the opportunity down, I’m 20 mins away from Budokan and I can’t wait to play with these guys.”
Cut to queues of hundreds of people turning up to this special show whilst the guys are taken to an interview room. Dirk tell us that he was excited but nervous to be playing with Marty as he saw them at first in 1990 with Megadeth!
Kiko sits thoughtfully at a piano and plays some keys beautifully while James LoMenzo says he has been waiting half his life to play Budokan.
“Marty is a very interesting guitar player and has a different kind of style. It’s really nice to watch him play the songs he’s so familiar with up close and personal… It’s a kick watching Kiko and him jamming together.”
The band is asked why they have an attachment to Budokan and Dave explains that they were meant to play here, but as they didn’t get to, he feels “that there is something missing.”
Cut to black and the roar comes out from the crowd. The Megadeth stage has the Japanese flag at the head of it, proudly flying.
A spectacular LED display of skyscraper art and fire beams down on the crowd and then the stage opens with an artistry of the riffs and melodies that blends in with drums commanding the beats.
The bassy tones of James echo out and the choppy riffing starts for an opening older older track Hanger18 to kickstart the show that melts into Dread and the Fugitive Mind, adorned by melodic shifts of strings from Kiko shape the soul of the track to blend in with the choppy power riffs that Dave delivers.
Dirk wields the kit in a display of skillful drumming with change up of tempo and commanding the speed of the song, though there is something hugely powerful when those choppy blast beats and atmosphere of riffs entwine with each other before heading straight into a beautifully melodic intro bleeding into The Threat Is Real – a sublime immersion of speedy riffs to start and shimmers of winding solos.
Dave’s vocals are chilling and power fueled patterns. Throughout the whole track, the punchy style riffs and beats are very present and constantly chuggy.
Dave cheers into the crowd and bows humbly.
“Alright are you ready to have a good time tonight? You know the rest of the world is watching us play for you tonight. Isnt that cool? We have a few surprises for you tonight…we were asked to do a song for a movie and this is the song””
Angry Again? Was used for the 1993 movie Last Action Hero – this is a catchy-esque track, ranging from the vocal arrangement of the chorus and the catchy riffs that compliment the drumming tick-tick-ticking along to give a fun headbanging vibe before we’re given the gate to a new track, released on 2022’s album The Sick, The Dying…and the Dead.
Soldier On! Talks to us about walking away from toxic situations and the hardships of that decision… this is a personal track, one backed up by raining riffs from Kiko and gunshot beats of Dirks’ kit.
Sweating Bullets though was remastered, always has the element of evil. The drum beats tie the pace of this track and Dave’s winding melodies are menacing reflect it back to the power of the drums.
Vocally,,Dave delivers his threatening voice with a maddening tone to it. “Hello me, meet the real me.”
Though this song has a bassline that is completely commanding of the mood of the song. THe riff breakdowns and shreds are hugely present – this is one of my favourite tracks of this set. It’s just purely Megadeth – a twist of insanity to the tone, the intense guitar solo completely highlights this,
We’re taken back to another track from 2005’s album Back To The Start… Trust is drum fuelled from the beginning with the building tempo creating anticipation from the outset, melting into dangerous riffs that begin to echoes through the stage.
James bass is ambient and Kiko’s low rhythm set this songs mood. Beautiful melody crashes into brutal riffs from Dave and the backing vocals that smooth alongside Dave are strong and wailing..
We take a moment with Kiko… a beautiful and dark melody– Brazilian influence, I’d like to say, see’s him standing alone with his art in his hands for everyone to hear right before the huge riffs and drum breakdowns and guitar solo of power infused Dystopia. Which, concludes in a maddening riffing end!
As much as Megadeth are known for their powerful riffs and dark edges, the flashes of beautiful melodies that present themselves in contrast throughout the set makes for standstill absorption.
“Hello everybody, I wanna thank you all for being here tonight. It’s a very special occasion. I wanna hear you sing with me too. I don’t speak French very well but… this is A Toute Le Monde.”
I am deep into this track for personal reasons. Someone who is no longer here – he was as mad as a box of frogs… but he was loved – he would always sing this song at me.
The energy this song gives live is astounding. Daves voice is soft and haunting, he and Kiko wield strings that ripple and carry so much history. The melodies are beautiful and full of emotion and fades into a beautiful and gentle combination of haunting low bass tones crafted by James and moods from the strings by the guitars.
23 years have passed since previous guitarist Marty Friedman performed with the band and what better way to reunite than to open his awaited re-debut with Megadeth with a classic from his days with them.
“And now… Please welcome …Marty…”
Countdown to Extinction sees in a blend of booming bass lines from James and then sets in Marty’s crisp and thrashing guitar that really highlights the winding riffs from Dave.
This nostalgic track is absorbed in a sonic marriage, a bleed of riffs and crisp melodies colliding with eachother.
HUGE ENERGY starts off with the visions of pummelling tornados on the big screens and Dirk’s speed bullet drumming.
Daves vocals are high and take an almost punk edge that gives this track a slightly different feel from the rest of the set. The attitude is powerful and Marty delivers a complex and high speed solo with super fast thrash edges. A perfect 90’s thrash track re-taken to today’s live show.
“Does that feel good!?!” Dave asks before slamming straight into Symphony of Destruction.
This is one of my favourites of the show.
The riffs are grating and evil as ever which heightens the menacing tones of Dave and James vocals.
Another nostalgic track loved by many that tears the stage to pieces. The energy between Megadeth whilst they carve this song live is astounding.
“Ladies and gentleman…Marty Friedman!”
Marty exits the stage with huge embraces between him and Dave and the stage lights go down, leaving nothing but darkness and a huge roar of applause from Japan.
Dave eventually enters the stage in lights and takes a bow
“Marty Freeman, lead guitar. That was really fun!
Its been so great playing this show for you tonight… the world is watching us, you’re watching. You know how much I love you guys. Aishitemasu!”
Then quite suddenly the stage is IMMERSED in the fastest riffs and guitar breakdowns of the night… We’ll Be Back crashes into the crowd and we’re given a display of some of the hugest drumming skills of Dirk that provides the pace and backbone of this performance.
“TOKYO MEGADETH LOVES YOU! You know this song, sing along…”
Peace Sells churns out choppy monster riffs from Kiko, wailing strings and a fun, headbanger that sees the crowd singing along to the chorus of Daves evil and mocking vocals. This is clearly a favourite amongst Budokan, the hugest cheer erupts from the crowd.
“This is gonna be our last song.. why? Hahaha. I don’t know, that is the question of the universe. I wanna thank you for being part of a special night tonight.” Dave talks about Marty and tells us that Kiko was extremely humble and welcoming to Marty’s return to share the stage on this occasion.
A hefty riff erupts before absolute annihilation – Holy Wars … The Punishment Due ends the night with a huge injection of final energy and emerges from the stage in bullet speed paces of riffs and exquisite drumming that take this track to a dark mood with laces of Kiko’s influences of Brazilian infused style guitars.
The melodic touch to the track sets halfway through the song gives the last offering of Megadeth a sense of ever changing direction and melancholic moods amongst the aggressive riffs and choppy drums.
The fade out is epic and the set ends with a beautiful tone ringing through the stage.
“You’ve been great, we’ve been Megadeth, goodnight!”
What a moment in time!
Feature Photo – Hiro S @hryk_aurora_addict
We hope you enjoyed the livestream and pre-show, Droogies. “They Only Come Out At Night: Live At Budokan” re-broadcast #1 starts in 1 hour. Watch at driift.link/Megadeth #MegadethLivestream