LEWISTON — It was mega-loud and mega-fast at Artpark Tuesday night as soon as thrash metal pioneers Megadeth hit the stage for a 90-minute set. Dave Mustaine and crew performed to an enthusiastic albeit smaller than usual crowd mostly clad in black clothing.
If there were concerns about how the crowd would behave, those fears were never realized. Having attended most of the Tuesday shows over the last five years, from my vantage point the Megadeth crowd was one of the best behaved audiences in recent memory.
That is due in no small part to the tireless dedication of Megadeth’s followers. Unlike many shows where there is a portion of the audience clearly attending to hang out with friends and virtually ignore the music, Megadeth’s audience was fixated on the band from the moment they took the stage at 8:00 p.m sharp with “Hangar 18.”
Musically, Megadeth is loud but incredibly precise. Visually the group surrounded themselves with a dizzying array of visuals, and even supplied the dry ice fog at just the right moments.
The band also has a clear sense of where each member should be on the stage, which is sometimes a lost art. Mustaine, guitarist Chris Broderick and bassist David Ellefson were constantly switching positions onstage, taking turns moving forward, dropping back and switching sides, allowing all of the members to perform to every part of the audience.
As for Mustaine, the only way he can be described is as a gracious host that acknowledged the adoration of his fans many times throughout the evening. If you were not familiar with Mustaine as a performer before Megadeth’s performance on Tuesday, you left with a great deal of respect for him.
The band plowed through sixteen songs representing a cross-section of their 30-year career, ending the evening with an extended version of “Holy Wars … the Punishment Due,” a song from 1990 that still resonates with audiences given the current political climate.