Megadeth at L'Olympia Bruno
Coquatrix Paris, France August 22, 2023
A special review written and photographed by David Bronstein
In Europe touring has been changing for the past few years meaning that a whole plethora of America's finest rock and metal bands are avoiding playing in England. Is it due to Brexit? The pandemic? Or a little bit of both? Touring has become more difficult and it can affect some of the bigger bands too. Take Metallica who played in Europe in 2022 but avoided the UK. When they did play in England this year it was to play at one festival, Download. The reformed Pantera have played Europe this year with no UK dates. And then there is Megadeth a beautiful off shoot of Metallica of course now going strong for 40 years who also toured Europe and made just one stopover in England to play the Bloodstock festival. Alas a sold out crowd in Paris were very lucky then to see Dave Mustaine and co take the stage at the infamous 130 year old L'Olympia in the heart of the city.
The beauty of Megadeth is that everytime I have seen them there is no fanfare, no pyrotechnics, they are just there on stage. It's as if they have been playing non-stop the whole day but we only get access to them for 70 crunching minutes and it's privileged access too. The wait is over and there are the band jamming on show opener 'Hangar 18'. There are no frills when it comes to Megadeth; it's all about the music. A fan tells me that Metallica have lost touch with their fans and while tickets tonight are about $90 they may have a point when Metallica were charging close to a thousand dollars to have two 'snakepit' tickets for their recent tour. Mustaine is older of course and he has been through his battles, but he just looks super cool. While most other ageing metal gods are cutting their hair or going bald, Mustaine's locks are exactly the same as they were when I first witnessed the band live in 1995; everything is the same and yet a lot has changed.
"There are no frills when it comes to Megadeth; it's all about the music."
One of the biggest changes of course is no more Dave Ellefson who was sacked by the band but in has come the really rather brilliant Kiko Loureiro. It is such a delight to see him in a live setting and he makes playing the solos on crushing track 'We'll Be Back' seem easy. The song from latest album 'The Sick, the Dying…and the Dead!' erupts the moshpit and in a venue usually housed for opera and let's say calmer music it is funny to see the famed L'Olympia feel more like a sleazy dive club.
Megadeth triumph well and that is easy when they bang out classic after classic- 'Angry Again', 'Sweating Bullets', 'Dystopia', 'Trust' and 'Symphony of Destruction' go down very very well in Paris. There should be a special mention for when the band launched into 'A tout le monde' they have you really lived if you haven't heard Megadeth sing a partially French song to a French crowd in the capital of the country; it was a moment that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Before you know it the show is over, but not before the ultra classics 'Peace Sells' and 'Holy Wars…The Punishment Due'. The band were on fire and it made it seem rather all easy, but I am sure that they came off stage saying how incredible the crowd were after all at various moments during the show Mustaine looked lost for words when he tried to speak, and how many times can that have happened to him?
Perhaps the one damper about the show is that it didn't seem loud enough, but maybe that is just me getting older because I did come out of the venue with muffled hearing and ringing in my ears. I know by now I should be wearing ear plugs right? But the temptation to hear Peace Sells for example without them…. I mean surely I can't deny myself that. So my hearing remains intact, just don't whisper anything next time you speak to me!
David Bronstein, HMS