4-26-22 - Baxter Arena
"Pop and metal aren't friends. Each knows exactly where the other lives and tries to keep its distance."
-Dave Mustaine, 'Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir
April in Omaha has been filled with severe weather. Roaring winds, blazing lightning, and growling thunder. None of these storms has come close to the destructive power that was unleashed upon us on April 26th. Metal beasts Megadeth and Lamb of God, along with Trivium and In Flames, laid to ruin not only Baxter Arena, but the entire Aksarban district. Each band shared responsibility for the carnage they had spawned and each of them were proud of the devastation that was disposed upon the willing and eager horde of head bangers.
The night began just as expected with some ground-smashing, rapid-fire guitar work and some distinctive metal-screaming. The Swedish Metal Masters, In Flames set the bar high as they reeled in every fan and maintained a stranglehold on them until the end of their very tight set. In between photographing the band, I would turn around and be confronted with an ocean of bobbing hair and metal horns thrusting skyward. The set was only eight songs long and their time on stage was short, but they made the most of it and did so much more than what is asked of an opening act.
Cloud Connected-Behind Space-Everything's Gone-Where the Dead Ships Dwell-Call My Name-All for Me-I Am Above-Take This Life
The next band to tear into us was Trivium. The crowd had been primed by In Flames and Trivium knew they had their work cut out for them. They did not disappoint. They even took it up several notches inspiring a riot-like mosh pit. Just to ensure the people remained in the palm of their hands they told us that the best crowd so far on tour was Fort Wayne. This inflamed the multitude and the intensity rose even higher. Later, the band demanded we get on our feet promising us that they sound better when we are all standing. Trivium absolutely knows how to work a crowd. The band genuinely enjoys being on stage and gives 100% during every second they are out there. It was impossible to ignore the energy filled arena, and even more, impossible to take your eyes off Trivium.
In the Court of the Dragon-Like a Sword-Over Damocles-Beyond Oblivion-Throes of Predition-Rain-Feast of Fire-Capsizing the Sea-In Waves
The set begins in darkness. The arena is filled with tension and expectation for the arrival of Lamb of God. Then, we see a light on the black curtain, the Lamb of God emblem appears. The crowd begins their war cry. Lamb of God....Lamb of God....Lamb of God.
As the giant curtain drops and the crew whisk it away, the eight or so of us photographers scrambled to start shooting. Lamb of God had started playing before the curtain fell and in the media pit with us were a few V.I.P. purchasers. There was no chance of taking a break. Lamb of God would simply not permit it. They were unyielding and persistently moving about the stage with purpose, the way a caged tiger does in a zoo. You almost felt as though if these guys leaped from the stage, they would rip us to shreds. They hit on all five of our senses. You could see the fierceness on their faces, you could hear the deafening growls and roars, you could feel the heat from the 6-foot flames, you could taste the electricity that hung in the air, and you could touch the sweat that rained down upon you from the windmill headbanging. At one point Randy Blythe stood on his platform and proclaimed that they came to Nebraska to do one thing only. "Fxxk this sxxt up"!! Later, the band walks off only to quickly return and finish with Vigil, Laid to Rest and Redneck.
The Lamb of God energy is unique and can only be felt at a live show. It can cause an entire arena to become one collective mass of wild seething fanatics that are constantly in tune with band.
Memento Mori-Ruin-Walk with Me in Hell-Resurrection Man-Now You've Got Something to Die For-Contractor-11th Hour-512-Ghost Walking-Vigil-Laid to Rest-Redneck
If you have a Metal Rushmore, then Megadeth must be on it. They are as metal today as they were in 1985 when they issued their devastating debut album, "When Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!" They are feral and fast, and exquisitely technical. Just as important as their musical talents is their influence. They have fathered hundreds of metal bands whether they be local or internationally known.
Back in 2019, Dave Mustaine gets diagnosed with Squamous cell carcinoma Sorta sounds like a metal song, doesn't it? But it is not, it is cancer. But how? This guy is a beast, he exemplifies bad ass. He is a rager, a red-headed forefather of rock. The fact that cancer would dare to invade his person was ludicrous. Fortunately for all of us, and just one year after diagnosis, Dave had kicked cancer (to quote Aerosmith) "Night in the Ruts."
As for tonight, they kicked things off with a suspense building overture, then BOOM! Like throwing gas on a fire, we hear Hanger 18. 10 seconds in and we are all now enthusiastic prisoners of Megadeth. The complete set swept through the venue like Patton’s march through Europe. They continued to plow through hit after hit, bombarding us with some of the fastest shredding I have ever seen. Of course, it is not Megadeth without their mascot Vic Rattlehead and he and his avatar swept from stage left to stage right continuously. The entire show was a testament to the band and their devote fan base.
Hangar 18-Dread and the Fugitive Mind-The Conjuring-Conquer or Die!-Dystopia-Trust-Sweating Bullets-She-Wolf-Symphony of Destruction-Peace Sells-Holy Wars... The Punishment Due