Megadeth @ Sears Centre, Hoffman Estates (US)

MEGADETH / AMON AMARTH / SUICIDAL TENDENCIES / METAL CHURCH / BUTCHER BABIES

Date: 05th October, 2016
Venue: Sears Centre Arena
Ticket: $58 / €53 (GA Standing Floor)
Promoter: n/a


Just by looking at this billing, one could easily claim that this was the 2016 edition of ‘Gigantour’ and to be honest, I have no idea why they didn’t name this tour like that (unless there were some other issues that I am not aware of and in the end of the day do not matter at all). The downside was that Sears Centre Arena was a one and a half hour driving distance, so we were bound to miss - at least - the first band. If HAVOK were still at the billing, missing them would be some kind of a loss, but skipping BUTCHER BABIES was kind of a blessing. I mean, there is no way I could stand their type of music with all that screaming and no substance at all, so yeah, the opening set was a buffer to not miss METAL CHURCH. Ok, accessing the photo pit turned out to be a long walk for a concert setting, but a little bit of running did the trick some seconds into the first song of the their set which was the amazing “Fake Healer”. METAL CHURCH have entered a second youth with the return of Mike Howe behind the mic and the release of the killer “XI”, so I was really excited to see them again onstage. Sure, the 1/3 filled arena and the sparse crowd on the seats was not the best of welcomes, but still, there were some old-school metalheads headbanging like crazy.

I don’t think guitarist Kurdt and singer Mike stopped smiling throughout the five-track set, proving that the band is in top condition. The sound was quite good, even though it was bouncing on the stadium’s walls and was gaining that unwanted echo but still Mike’s singing was once again impressive, reaching those higher pitches at ease. “Chicago, let me hear you. It’s good to be here, we are METAL CHURCH and this is “Start The Fire”said the charismatic frontman, losing no time because the supporting slot did not allow for any kind of delays. Despite the sparse and young of average crowd, there was some singing along during this one but without doubt the video hit (from the MTV days of course) “Badlands” got the loudest response. Guitarist Rick Van Zandt looked kind of distant on the side, being too focused on his guitar-playing, so it was up to Kurdt and Steve (aside from constantly moving Mike) to build the connection with the crowd, leaving Jeff Plate pounding his drum-kit, and considering the time given, I’d say they did great. “Beyond The Black” was the last METAL CHURCH song we got that night reaching the poor total of just five songs but with so many bands, there was no space for more. Maybe making the billing shorter or butchering (pun intended) it a bit, would have given a couple of songs more to METAL CHURCH.

METAL CHURCH setlist:

01. “Fake Healer”
02. “Start The Fire”
03. “No Tomorrow”
04. “Badlands”
05. “Beyond The Black”

METAL CHURCH

Metal Church @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Metal Church @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Having seen SUICIDAL TENDENCIES quite a few times before as headliners, I knew a supporting slot would be meshing with my nerves, simply because the legendary band from Venica, CA would have the chance to warm our appetite and then leave us hanging… Anyway, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, so around 8pm the stage was ready to host the running team of SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. If you haven’t seen this band (yet), then know that the moment Mike Muir says “What the fuck is going on around here”, it’s go time for all the running and jumping around. Yeah, there is no better way to do this than with the amazing “You Can’t Bring Me Down” that sounds always relevant. There were many members of the great S/T family inside the stadium, so getting a mosh-pit going was the most logical think to see following the Lombardo delivered smashing groove of this amazing song. Bassist Ra Díaz and the S/T newbie Jeff Pogan followed Dean Pleasants’ lead and made the stage look extremely tiny to host all this energy. You see, Cyco Miko was running - as always - from one side of the stage to the other, preaching at the same time these burning lyrics with the trademark climax “But here's my apology and one more thing... Fuck you!” The end of this song was extended a bit to get the crowd going by singing along the chorus with fists pumping in the air. The sound was worse than it was for METAL CHURCH and that was a shame because especially the vocals were getting lost into the mix. I mean, listening to what Mike has to say before the songs is part of the experience, so having difficulty to hear all his flaming words was a bummer. “I don’t wanna talk about politics when people are getting shot” he said and then added “Believe in yourself, this is life, right here right now, so put your fist in the air” before letting “Freedumb” loose. Lombardo is a powerful addition to the S/T family and I love how bits and pieces of his fast drumming have been added to the songs and especially the double bass drumming speaks straight to every headbanger’s heart.

“When dealing with problems, fight with your mind and not with your fists” were the next words of wisdom which were topped off with “if you don’t fight for yourself, no one will”. Yes, such sayings are pure gold in ‘all-ages’ shows because I am afraid in these ‘being constantly online’ days, no one has open ears to hear this. “War Inside My Head”, “Subliminal” and the Crossover galore “Cyco Vision” were the best soundtrack for the huge circular mosh-pit that was occupied with mainly young faces. There is hope that this generation can get into this amazing band, especially now when there is a new S/T album on the stores. Unfortunately, there was no time for lots of songs, so from “World Gone Mad” we only got “Living For Life” that was kind of lost into the muffled sound mix. “Chicago, it’s your fuckin’ time” were Mike’s challenging words to join the S/T family by pledging our allegiance during the song which usually sees lots of fans getting onstage with the band. Of course, this did not happen this time, and on top of this, the song was cut extremely short (just before the singing-along part), seeing Mike being off-stage greeting the fans in the front rows, like he always does. After the METAL CHURCH set, this was another short appetizer that left us hungry for more.

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES setlist:

01. “You Can't Bring Me Down”
02.  “Freedumb”
03. “Trip At The Brain”
04. “War Inside My Head”
05. “Subliminal / Cyco Vision”
06. “Living For Life”
07. “Pledge Your Allegiance”

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES

Suicidal Tendencies @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Suicidal Tendencies @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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The last band occupying the supporting slots was the masters of Viking Metal AMON AMARTH. Of course, there is no such Metal genre but considering the lyrics and the overall aesthetics, the Swedes are using in great abundance in every song, album and video, then it is the fastest and most efficient way to describe their style. What is most important in this case is that AMON AMARTH have worked hard to expand their sound by adding more melodies in the double guitar attacks, raising the quality bar for the last four albums. On top of this (or maybe, because of this), the US market has embraced the Vikings and has given them many chances to tour in this side of the Atlantic with notable success, and this time was no exception. The bow of a Viking longship drakkar was brought on the stage but due to space restrictions, it was split in two, so the band members had to walk above it whenever they wanted to switch sides. Still, it made the stage look taller and absolutely enhanced the oomph every AMON AMARTH live show possesses. Johan Hegg showed up with the rest of the band holding a Viking war hammer and was pumped and ready to smash AMON AMARTH’s way into the first song of the set. Well, not literally but it was a fun thing watching him and the way the audience reacted to such theatrics. You see, aside from the ears, there are times where a few stage props can make the concert experience even better. “Twilight Of The Thunder God” seemed like the perfect introduction and soon enough there was some serious mosh-pit activity, skipping entirely the warming-up period. Being inside the photo-pit, I did not have the best acoustics, so I missed the beauty of the double guitar actions (and some of the vocals) which made the AMON AMARTH sound so characteristic. Unfortunately for me, “The Pursuit Of Vikings” with the helicopter-trademark-headbanging came next, so I didn’t enjoy as much as I’d like but the audience occupying the arena had tons of headbanging fun. “Chicago, IL, we are AMON AMARTH from Stockholm, Sweden” said the constantly smiling Johan who did not waste any time and introduced “As Loke Falls”. The backdrop changed into the latest album’s cover artwork and dressed this epic piece that kept the Metal flowing with the killer MAIDEN-esque double guitar harmonies and the always massive rhythm section.

“Are you ready to party like fuckin’ bersekers?” rhetorically asked the tall singer before dedicating “First Kill” to everyone who was willing to “rumble like a Viking”. Like I said, AMON AMARTH have cracked the always difficult US market and kept working hard to expand their fanbase, so such supporting slots are the perfect settings to do so. Yeah, the chanting along “On A Sea Of Blood” can definitely do this and I cannot even imagine how awesome this would be if pyros were allowed here in the States because AMON AMARTH are using lots of those in Europe.

It was time to visit the older albums, so for the next one Johan started reciting the chorus lines of the mid-tempo “Runes To My Memory” and there were many fans who joined him and even more fists pumping in the air. Since the audience was in a singing-along mood, “Deceiver Of The Gods” came to speed up the pace and gave a good reason to chant along during this headbanger. By the way, Johan Söderberg’s lighted AMON AMARTH logo on his guitar looked absolutely fantastic. “You guys are fucking wild - we’d like to thank MEGADETH for bringing us to this amazing tour. Chicago, raise your horns” said Hegg as he raised his drinking horn before adding “whether you have a drink in your hand or not, it doesn't matter ‘cause it's time to raise your horns” giving the perfect assist to the namesake song. This short but extremely tight set ended with the full of attitude and neck-snapping groovy “Guardians Of Asgaard”. Wouldn’t be awesome to have L-G Petrov onstage with AMON AMARTH? Of course, with ENTOMBED A.D. as direct support...

AMON AMARTH setlist:

01. “Twilight Of The Thunder God”
02. “The Pursuit Of Vikings”
03. “As Loke Falls”
04. “First Kill”
05. “On A Sea Of Blood”
06. “Runes To My Memory”
07. “Deceiver Of The Gods”
08. “Raise Your Horns”
09. “Guardians Of Asgaard”

AMON AMARTH

Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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What I noticed while I was looking around as the stage was getting prepped for MEGADETH, was the large number of young faces that were excited to see Dave and Co., most probably for the first time. Yeah, the moment the lights went out, the excitement became a loud cheer while the “Prince Of Darkness” intro was blasting off the amps like it did in the previous MEGADETH Chicago show, for the same album touring cycle. The techs who were ready to remove the curtain hanging in front of the stage wore bright yellow hazmat suits and, combined with the radiation logo, queued for the setlist opener which was - of course - “Hangar 18”. The band entered the stage with the two guitars delivering the trademark riffs of this massive song. Does anyone disagree that “Rust In Peace” is MEGADETH highest songwriting point? Kiko Loureiro has been an awesome fit to MEGADETH and especially onstage where he looks absolutely comfortable as he delivers the complicated guitar leads with a shocking comfort. It should be noted that whenever Kiko was doing a solo, Dave stood in the back to let all the stage at the Brazillian guitarist’s disposal, so additional respect goes to MEGADETH’s mastermind. “Look at all these beautiful faces tonight. There is a curfew tonight, so I will do less talking” Dave said before “blowing us away” with the massive “Tornado Of Souls”. I really do not understand this time restrictions and curfews; first of all, I am sure everybody knew about those before setting up the time schedule for this show, so the starting time could have been moved a bit, so the headliner could do the entire planned setlist without cutting something off. Secondly, what would have been the problem staying half an hour later, unless there is some restriction for the working people, but if there aren’t, then I can judge perfectly fine what time I should go to bed.

As it happened the last time, “Poisonous Shadows” sounded ten times better than in the studio (especially the chorus), and for the next one, an acoustic guitar was set at the center of the stage for Kiko to deliver the “Conquer Or Die” instrumental, showcasing his finger-guitar playing skills. “Lying In State” made its live debut, and for me, became another song I had overlooked from MEGADETH’s latest album, so I guess I have to be more careful to not be caught into these fast-food-listening flooded with new releases the market has pushed us. By the way, this was the first time of the night that Vic showed up wearing the same gear with the “Dystopia” cover artwork, and kind of reminded me Robocop (yeah, I’m old)…

The songs were coming back to back and even though this is appreciated because the party-mood stays on all the time, but to be honest, I missed some of Dave’s intro-talks like the one he does before “She-Wolf” as he refers to all those exes… And yes, there was a mosh-pit during this one. Right afterwards, David Ellefson stayed onstage while the two guitarists went in the back because it was time for some bass action with the killer riff of “Dawn Patrol” that I wish it had fewer effects.

I think during the first part of the set, Dave’s voice came a bit harsh, but for “Sweating Bullets” it all sounded perfect with that amount of irony in his singing. This is probably one of Mustaine’s top performances, although I should include the entire “Countdown To Extinction” tracklist for this. Speaking of singing, “A Tout Le Monde” saw the audience delivering the chorus with the highest point being the part when Dave and Kiko bowed to each other after the end of this song. “Trust” also sounded amazing, although a fan who climbed onstage came too close to ruin the experience (I am not sure what he was trying to do) but fortunately the stage crew managed to grab him before doing any damage.

“I usually describe this one, but there’s a curfew”, Dave said one more time just before “Post American World” and I could see that he was genuinely annoyed by this. You see, it is not just playing the music, especially when a song gives you the opportunity to say a couple of things that can make a younger mind to think a bit more and - why not - unblocks some of his thinking ways… “Dystopia” came without stopping and, because of the crystal clear sound, we got the chance to fully enjoy the main riff that sticks to mind like crazy-glue. The video for this one was projected in the back screens, so it was nice seeing Vic maiming his opponent (have a closer look at the lyrics of this one). Speaking of lyrics, I got h-u-g-e goosebumps during “Symphony Of Destruction” which sadly still sounds relevant during this politically confused and deeply disturbed days we are living. Even the video clip looks like it was filmed just a couple of days ago…

The band went off stage but did not wait too much (remember, there was this damn curfew), so “Peace Sells” and “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” (another song with most relevant lyrics) dropped the curtain. Dave with his most ironic voice said “Be sure to go straight to bed, Chicago”, once again complaining about the time restrictions before delivering the last and trademark words: “You’ve been great - we’ve been MEGADETH. Another great show for MEGADETH was already in the books - thank you, guys!

MEGADETH setlist:

01. “Hangar 18”
02. “The Threat Is Real”
03. “Tornado Of Souls”
04. “Poisonous Shadows”
05. “Conquer Or Die!”
06. “Lying In State”
07. “She-Wolf”
08. “Dawn Patrol”
09. “Poison Was The Cure”
10. “Sweating Bullets”
11. “A Tout Le Monde”
12. “Fatal Illusion”
13. “Trust”
14. “Post American World”
15. “Dystopia”
16. “Symphony Of Destruction”
17. “Peace Sells”
18. “Holy Wars... The Punishment Due”

MEGADETH

Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Megadeth @ Sears Centre Arena (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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