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By Geoff Ketler, Cleveland Contributor
Friday, July 7, 2017 @ 7:03 AM

“You’ve been great…we’ve been MEGADETH, good night.”

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All Photos By Geoff Ketler/Aces High Photography

Thrash metal pioneers MEGADETH decided to make a long-overdue tour stop back in the good ole 2-1-6; Cleveland, Ohio as the group continued on their tour cycle supporting 2016’s Dystopia, which finally brought home the first Grammy win for the storied quartet.

The early start time prevented Jacob’s Pavilion at Nautica from filling out until much later in the evening, nonetheless, LILLAKE kicked things off with a solid effort. Comprised of former/current members of SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, THE FACELESS and ENTHEOS, the “supergroup” of sorts played a short set that featured material off of their 2016 debut release Become. Guitarist/Vocalist Nico Santora mixed in screams, death growls and clean vocals while world-renowned drummer Eric Moore showed us why he was the 2003 Guitar Center Drum-off champion. Musically, LILLAKE was very dark and plenty heavy, but with a progressive twist, similar to OPETH.

Up next was the UK’s TESSERACT. This one was puzzling to me - not to say the band didn’t put on a great show, just that the group’s progressive stylings, clean vocals, atmospheric guitars and polyrhythms seemed to be better suited for a different bill. TESSERACT was, in my eyes, a clear departure from the rest of the touring package. However, differences aside, the group stood out as a technical marvel. Vocalist Daniel Tompkins made good use of his falsetto voice and drummer Jay Postones laid down technical and syncopated beats. Parts of the set reminded me of QUEENSRYCHE with the almost opera-like vocals of Geoff Tate alongside unique time signatures and airy guitar solos.


  • “Smile”
  • “Dystopia”
  • “Concealing Fate, Part 2: Deception”
  • “Survival”
  • “Phoenix”
  • “Of Mind – Nocturne”
The pit was finally starting to swell as Swedish extreme metal legends MESHUGGAH took the stage by storm. Supporting their 2016 effort, The Violent Sleep Of Reason, MESHUGGAH stirred up the circle pit with “Clockworks”. Despite the wall of sound emanating from the stage, the band members themselves were cool, calm and collected – like another day at the office. Vocalist Jens Kidman spent very little time addressing the crowd, save the occasional “Thank you Cleveland”, it was all about the music. MESHUGGAH was without the axe-wielding services of guitarist Fredrik Thordendal on this particular tour, so the band enlisted Per Nilsson to fill the void. According to the band’s official Facebook page, Per Nilsson would be filling in as “…our interim Lead Kazooist for the duration of ‘The Thords’ hiatus”. Details concerning Fredrik’s departure were not presented. The precise, percussive and mechanical set reached its climax during “Bleed”.


  • “Clockworks”
  • “Born In Dissonance”
  • “Do Not Look Down”
  • “By The Ton”
  • “Violent Sleep Of Reason”
  • “Bleed”
  • “Demiurge”
As the sun set behind the audience on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, the mighty MEGADETH made its way to the stage. Flanking each side of the stage were groups of VIP fans. Behind the band’s newest member, Dirk Verbeuren’s drum kit was a smallish screen that would play accompanying videos throughout the night. The stripped-down production was intended for the smaller concert halls and theaters that the band had booked for several of the dates on this North American run and looked slightly awkward at the pavilion-style, larger, outdoor venue. The video board played to the tune of “Prince Of Darkness” before the rejuvenated MEGADETH broke into the classic “Hangar 18”. I used the term “rejuvenated” purposefully here. The additions of guitarist Kiki Loureiro and former SOILWORK drummer Dirk Verbeuren over the last couple of years brought the fresh blood that this group so desperately needed. I have seen MEGADETH several times across several lineups and album cycles and this performance was far and away the most recharged, energetic and musically sound of them all.

The godfather of thrash, Dave Mustaine made quick work of the evening, rarely speaking to the audience. His signature scowling vocals carried across the water in “The Flats” section of Cleveland. The setlist was geared toward new material, but included many of the favorites from across the band’s storied history. The MEGADETH mascot appeared a handful of times. The much larger, futuristic Vic Rattlehead from the Dystopia artwork appeared during “Conquer Or Die!” Over the years, Vic has become more and more inclusive in the live shows almost to IRON MAIDEN’s Eddie proportions.

Dave Mustaine has a tendency to pick someone out of the crowd in the middle of the set and harass them. It happens so frequently it is practically part of his shtick anymore. This night was no exception. Dave lectured a security guard who was giving a hard time to a blonde woman down front. Dave made a few comments about the security guard’s hairline (or lack thereof) and dedicated “Tornado Of Souls” to the “bald security guy”. It certainly wasn’t the first time Dave gave a tongue lashing and I am sure it won’t be the last. When the band came back out for the one song encore, Dave explained the circumstances surrounding the tour in Ireland where he dedicated a song to “the cause” and more or less incited a riot between Catholics and Protestants which eventually became the inspiration for the song “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”.

The set flowed on into the evening. Highlights included “Mechanix”, “Trust” and “Tornado Of Souls”. Dave Mustaine and Kiko Loureiro traded solos methodically with plenty of virtuosity and aggression. Be sure to check out this stacked tour if it comes to town and also check out MEGADETH this fall on tour supporting SCORPIONS.


  • Intro: “Prince Of Darkness”
  • “Hangar 18”
  • “Mechanix”
  • “Wake Up Dead”
  • “The Threat Is Real”
  • “Sweating Bullets”
  • “Conquer Or Die!”
  • “She-Wolf”
  • “Poisonous Shadows”
  • “Trust”
  • “Fatal Illusion”
  • “A Tout Le Monde”
  • “Tornado Of Souls”
  • “Dystopia”
  • “Symphony Of Destruction”
  • “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?”
  • “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”
Check out some more photos from the show!
All Photos By Geoff Ketler/Aces High Photography

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