Just once in his life, Judge Bill Gibron would love to get the kind of crowd reaction that Dave Mustaine and his Megadeth buddies receive at the hands of the insane Argentinean audience during this amazing live concert.
Our review of Megadeth: That One Night (Blu-ray), published July 30th, 2011, is also available.
Great band + amazing audience = exceptional concert experience.
It remains one of 2005's most indelible images. There he was, the man unceremoniously kicked out of the band over 20 years ago, given a bus ticket and an ultimatum—leave New York and never darken our door again. Just like that, Dave Mustaine was out of Metallica, and off on a horrid cross-country trip back to California. Seething over the dismissal, he immediately formed Megadeth; for the next two-and-a-half decades, the rival rock bands would metaphysically banter back and forth, each one jockeying for an ultimate spot in the minds of metal fans. Even as the genre went hair and then even harder, the speed thrash trademark that both groups gravitated toward would signify their sonic battle cry for years to come. As we all know, it was Lars, James, and Kirk who finally mastered the mainstream, becoming the biggest musical act in the world. It was a horrible distraction for Mustaine, who always seemed to base his worth on how his band matched up with the multi-platinum icons. Even as Megadeth sold millions of units, he still had a chip on his shoulder the size of his former bandmates' egos.
And yet, smack dab in the middle of Some Kind of Monster, the dazzling documentary that chronicled Metallica's implosive St. Anger recording sessions, Mustaine makes a memorable appearance. He is sitting across from his notorious nemesis, Lars Ulrich, and he's talking. He's not yelling, not ranting. He's talking. It's painful and it represents a wound that probably won't ever heal, but Mustaine is making the effort to chase his demons. Unfortunately, once the film came out, those impossible imps raised their heads again. The bad blood continues, and is prolonged and predicated on those same unnecessary comparisons between the two bands. While Metallica can sit back and bask in its more or less legitimate legacy, Mustaine should have nights like the one in Buenos Aires to keep him company whenever the jibes of jealousy attack. Recorded for DVD, That One Night represents the best of live performance: a great band, a stellar set list, and an audience so interactive they literally become part of the show. For longtime fans and newer converts, here are the songs featured during 90 minutes of monster rock:
• "Blackmail The Universe"—from the 2004 album
The System Has Failed
First things first: What is up with South American music fans? Anyone who's seen them sing along with the guitar solos and instrumentals of bands like Rush (on the fabulous Rush in Rio DVD) or witness their open-faced wildness here can attest—these devotees really, REALLY, REALLY!!! love their live concerts. They move in a mesmerizing throng, bodies bouncing and swaying to each and every note being produced by their power gods—and they just get more and more involved. They shout along with every line, recreate riffs with their combined keening, and propel each verse along on a wave of their own obsessive energy. When they cheer, they want the heavens to hear it, and when a solo strikes their fancy, they respond in an almost unholy howl. This is how all rock-and-roll should be viewed—through the eyes of people simply ecstatic about being part of a fan-to-band experience. Some will argue that it's the lack of availability (most acts don't tour internationally as much as they appear at home), while others will point to the easy access to recreational pharmaceuticals as the catalyst to such craziness. Whatever the case may be, bands like Megadeth can live off the ego rush these reactions cause for years to come. The Buenos Aires audience is just as remarkable as the group being worshipped onstage.
Megadeth deserves the accolades. Over the years, Mustaine has remained the sole original member of the group, hiring and firing various musicians to help him realize his rock-and-roll goals. This latest configuration (brothers Glen and Shawn Drover—guitarist and drummer, respectively—and bassist James Macdonough) tears up the set list, producing a continuous stream of amazing metal thrash. Still capable of cranking up the old-school speed material, there are several standout recreations of classic '80s anthems ("Set the World Afire," "Wake Up the Dead"). As if to prove that age has not deadened their desire, songs from 2004's The System Has Failed sound equally good. Megadeth does make it look incredibly easy, the slightest movement of their wrists rendering the guitars like unholy assault weapons. Even when the riffing gets complicated and almost prog-like, the band's aural brashness is never compromised or controlled. Indeed, Mustaine may sing in a strained, almost subdued, voice, but his presence is practically incendiary. You keep waiting for the moment when he, like the rest of the noise his bandmates are making, literally detonates right in front of your eyes. Naturally, the Argentineans love each and every nuclear notation. This is especially true when Mustaine changes the lyrics of "Coming Home" to reflect "Argentina," not "Arizona," as the frontman's return location of choice.
All purposeful pandering aside, That One Night is a classic concert presentation. It's not trying to be Stop Making Sense, or redefine the live experience a la The Last Waltz. Instead, this is a souvenir for everyone who enjoys ferociously and effectively made metal. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image is amazing—-- crystal clear and loaded with definable detail. You can even see the scruffy beard Mustaine wears and the sweat beading up on his cohorts' considered faces. Michael Sarna's direction is top flight: not too MTV-edit heavy, but much better than your basic point-and-shoot standards. He loves getting up close on the band as they break out in complex countermelodies, and there are plentiful crowd shots to illustrate the audience's appreciation.
As for sound mixing, the Dolby Digital Stereo 5.1 DTS track is dynamic, expertly recreating the stadium concert experience. The instrumentation is kept perfectly modulated, and while Mustaine's vocals are a little too low in the mix, this appears to be a board problem, not a matter of remastering. The standard 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo tracks are equally effective, with all three delivering a dynamite recreation of Megadeth live. Sadly, the only significant extra (except for some behind the scenes footage inserted into the show itself) is an alternate version of "Symphony of Destruction." While the arrangement remains more or less the same, the editing is a little more manic, giving this sole bit of added content a rather pointless feel.
With a new album in the works, and a new religion helping him find guidance and focus (Mustaine recently announced his born-again Christianity), Megadeth appears prepared to give its unrealistic rival a post-millennial run for its money. Even as middle age sets in (Mustaine is 46 this year), That One Night proves that he's not about to slow or stop. Anyone who rocks as hard and as honestly as this industry survivor deserves all the audience reaction he gets. And no one gives better spectator spectacle than the crowds in South America. This is a must-own DVD for any fan of music or Megadeth.
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