Words and Photos by Alan Snodgrass
In normal times, calling your tour the “Metal Tour of the Year” would be considered a bold statement, but let’s face it, the bar is pretty low given how 2021 has gone so far. But if anyone can attempt the claim, it’s Megadeth and Lamb of God who teamed up and hit the road with Hatebreed and Trivium to do their darnedest to live up to the hype.
Those that were successful in navigating the Thursday evening traffic to make it out to Concord in time for Hatebreed’s 6 p.m. set were treated with a blistering opening set where despite the modest turnout the whole venue was on its feet and rocking along except for a couple in section 105 who couldn’t be bothered. With the sun still high in the sky, the general admission pit was already primed for some action, setting a perfect tone for a long evening of metal.
Up next were Trivium, clearly vibing off of the energy in the room, as they took the stage and launched into “In the Court of the Dragon.” For Trivium newbies, you’ll always know when Matt Heafy wants to impress you with his guitar licks because his tongue will be hanging out of his mouth. By that metric, he demanded attention through their 40-minute set.
By the time Lamb of God’s 8:10 p.m. set time rolled around, the sun had set on Concord California, and the Pavilion was absolutely packed, maybe even sold out, as the band took the stage to “Momento Mori.” Still clearly shaking off the rust from not touring, the crew was a bit delinquent in pulling down the scrim that blocked the stage, leaving both the crowd and frontman Randy Blythe briefly puzzled. That little glitch, however, was overshadowed by what amounted to an absolutely crushing set by the band.
Blythe was in rare form, climbing up on the drum riser for a little face time with new drummer Art Cruz before taking a flyer only to be lost in the billowing haze before touching down unscathed (braces on both ankles and both knees may suggest that that hasn’t always been the case).
The fire came out appropriately during “Walk With Me in Hell,” and it’s pretty much a certainty that no one enjoyed the frequent bursts of flames more than Randy, who seemed to be summoning them himself and clearly demonstrating Mr. Blythe’s ability to command not just a fervent crowd. You’ve heard the expression, “a tough act to follow?” Well, that’s exactly what the Lamb of God set was.
Clearly Megadeth knew what they were getting into when they teamed up with Lamb of God on this tour, but they were going to take a decidedly different approach. Staying consistent with past tours, Megadeth kept the expanse of the stage clear, pushing a wall of LEDs and amps to the back and setting drummer Dirk Verberuen on top, leaving plenty of room for the rest of the band to roam.
James Lomenzo’s return to Megadeth on bass after over a decade went off without a hitch … just like riding a bike, eh? And, of course, there’s the added bonus that you won’t be met with a bunch of pictures of his wiener if you Google him.
Having recovered from cancer, Megadeth’s legendary frontman looked and sounded great. Never one for a ton of action, Dave casually roamed the stage focusing on his shredding. While there wasn’t a ton of action on stage, the crowd were happily losing their shit, singing along to a setlist that was primarily composed of the tried-and-true classics, although folks seemed to be a bit befuddled when the set wrapped up ahead of schedule.
So, was it really the Metal Tour of the Year? During normal times, the verdict would still be out, but during 2021, it’s probably a reasonable claim to make. And just watching the at-capacity crowd not only make the effort to hoof it out to Concord on a Thursday night but completely loose their minds would suggest that they would agree.
Lamb of God Setlist:
- Memento Mori
- Walk With Me in Hell
- Resurrection Man
- Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
- Set to Fail
- New Colossal Hate
- Laid to Rest
- Hangar 18
- The Threat Is Real
- Sweating Bullets
- Conquer or Die!
- Dawn Patrol
- Poison Was the Cure
- Symphony of Destruction
- Peace Sells
- Holy Wars… The Punishment Due