The Return Of GOD: Megadeth – Live At Roseland Ballroom November 10th 2004

I realized that it’s been a long time since I wrote about my concert history, the last time I wrote anything was about my trip to Ozzfest ’04 featuring headliners Slayer, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath…with Rob Halford on vocals.  Click here if you never read it:

https://metalheadconfessions.com/2016/06/30/possibly-the-best-ozzfest-lineup-ever-ozzfest-2004-august-26th-2004/

But that left one more concert for that year and it was one I NEVER thought I’d see.  Seriously.  Never.

A year earlier, Thrash Metal pioneer Dave Mustaine, who had quit Megadeth – his own band – and retired from music over an arm injury, had announced he was coming out of retirement.  He’d even gotten himself a brand new endorsement deal with ESP Guitars…which I’d wonder from time to time after that if that was yet another blatant attempt to feel validated by his ex Metallica bandmates, as James Hetfield had been endorsed by them since 1988 and by the way still is.  He had announced plans to remix and remaster the entire Megadeth catalogue, which he had actually started in 2001 when he remixed and remastered the band’s 1985 debut Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good…which really did give the record a fresh pair of raw, drug addled BALLS.   Dave also mentioned the idea of recording a solo record that while he’d never tour for, he’d probably perform a small handful of club shows.  Or so he thought.

About a year later Mustaine started posting snippets of new recordings and to say the least, they did sound promising.  Very promising.  This was also following the news that he managed to get former Megadeth guitarist lead guitarist Chris Poland to play on this new record…which was now a Megadeth record by name only due to contractual obligations with his publishing company.  Let’s speed this up: he teased us with the release of three songs that sounded fucking great.  Later in the year he released The System Has Failed, featuring those three songs as the opening three tracks.  After that it’s such a fucking shitfest.  From a musician’s standpoint the guitar tones were so fucking WEAK due to Mustaine playing an old Marshall Plexi, which is NOT the appropriate amp to play his style of music to begin with.  Second of all, I understood that this was recorded as a solo record before Mustaine was forced to make it a Megadeth record, so I expected to hear a musical departure of sorts.  But this whole album minus the first three songs was just lame.  Oh, and if you’re reading this and you happen to be one of the jackasses that proclaimed that The System Has Failed was the “best album since Rust In Peace!”, you should jump in front of an 18 wheeler yesterday.  Thanks.

Around the time of the album’s release Dave appeared on Friday Night Rocks with Eddie Trunk to discuss everything that was happening from the album’s release to his MAJOR fallout with co-founder/bassist David Ellefson to Ellefson, Marty Freidman and Nick Menza – the classic Rust In Peace lineup – all refusing to join him on this comeback tour.  But when he gave Eddie the list of tour dates he said the New York City on November 10th was a possibility (he couldn’t remember for sure at the time) I knew to save the date.  Yeah the “comeback” record was weak but this allegedly was going to be the last time Dave Mustaine went on the road under the Megadeth banner so I didn’t give a shit.  I had worshiped this guy since high school and some of my own guitar technique was taken from him.  There was NO WAY I was missing this.

Tickets were pretty cheap at $36 each so I bought tickets for the guys in my band at the time: Idrees and Chad (who never paid me back because he’s scumbag piece of shit).  Our newest addition to the band, our drummer Chris, met us there with his girlfriend Shari and her sister Marissa, who was actually the music director of my college radio station at the time, along with her boyfriend Vin.  Marissa claimed to be a big Megadeth fan but as she’d admit to later on, she was nothing more than a poser.  I loved her to death – and she also had a great pair of titties! – but don’t call yourself a big fan of ANY band if you only have two albums from that band.

We arrived at the now-defunct Roseland Ballroom, close to the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan, looking so 80’s it was hilarious, myself wearing a leather jacket with my denim vest over it and leather gloves with my dog chain that I still have.  I had already learned that I’d rather wear just a plain, black shirt instead of any band shirt in order to avoid random losers interrogating me on love of said band and telling me stories I could honestly give two shits about.  As we all walked in, the opening band, Exodus were playing.  This was weird to see only because they had JUST released a new album, Tempo Of The Damned, only for longtime vocalist Steve “Zetro” Sousa to quit shortly after.  So who was singing for him?  Steev from Skinlab…who was doing way too much to try to look like Phil Anselmo circa 1996, between the undershave haircut (Idrees called it the Vagina Haircut), the leather cuffs, the short sleeve flannel shirt, the green cargo shorts and his tendency to always bend down to scream…which by the way Phil stole from Henry Rollins.

In between bands, as Megadeth were next, Idrees was approached by this muscular, 16 year old kid with glasses, who apparently met him in a pit during an Overkill show at the also now-defunct B.B. King’s.  After they shared they shared a few words the boy turned to me and said he knew me too.  I was very confused; between his physique and the glasses I was sure he had to have mistaken me for someone else, until he reminded me that he met me at my former music store were I was still taking lessons at the time, and that he had approached me when he heard me playing the Megadeth song “Sweating Bullets” on an acoustic guitar.  That was two years earlier and I had not seen him in that long a time so the fact that he remembered me was impressive.  Nonetheless we were both stoked to see each other.  We’d wind up hanging out together almost frequently for the next four years after this night but that almost didn’t happen and here’s why!

The lights went out, the crowds lost their shit as Ice T’s “Shut Up, Be Happy” began blaring through the speakers…

One by one, the current touring lineup Mustaine put together for this tour start to walk out on stage: drummer Shawn Drover, ex-Iced Earth bassist James MacDonough, guitarist Glen Drover.  There’s wall of sick looking Marshall cabinets on the stage with a drum kit that looks a LOT like something Nick Menza would’ve played.  After a minute of two…you could hear the sounds of another guitar playing the beginning of “Set The World Afire” from 1988’s So Far, So Good…So What!.  That’s when Dave Mustaine finally walked out on stage, chugging away on his guitar.  At that moment I felt a foot come out of nowhere, kicking me right in the fucking nose, making me bleed.  Then the entire crowd were to become one gigantic mosh pit, meaning Rob and I, as quickly as we were reunited, were being forcefully pushed apart.  We tried to grab on to each other but this crowd was understandably way too violent to try and overcome unless I really wanted broken bones to go with the bloody nose.

The band pulled out the classics on after another, starting with “Afire” and kicking right into “Skin ‘O’ My Teeth” into “Wake Up Dead”, which is when shit REALLY got out of hand.  Then again, if you know ANYTHING about Megadeth I shouldn’t have to tell you that “Wake Up Dead” is essentially that one song meant just for moshing once the band gets into that middle riff after Dave’s first solo.  And that was immediately followed by “In My Darkest Hour”.  The band were really able to hold there own, although I always thought Shawn Drover was the least dynamic drummer in Megadeth’s entire history.  Mustaine, however was surprising.  He’d retired because he couldn’t even move his arm thanks to this bizarre injury he acquired and more than two years later he’s absolutely ripping it up as if nothing happened to him!  It honestly made me and probably a few others rather suspicious as to the actual severity of his injury.  But that’s a story for another time.

Here’s the setlist:

Set The World Afire

Skin ‘O’ My Teeth

Wake Up Dead

In My Darkest Hour

Something That I’m Not

Angry Again

Of Mice And Men

Reckoning Day

A Tout Le Monde

Die Dead Enough

Tornado Of Souls

Kick The Chair

Hangar 18

Sweating Bullets

Symphony Of Destruction

Back In The Day (featuring Exodus near the end of the song)

Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?

Encore:

Holy Wars…The Punishment Due

At the end of the set, and after the band walked off the stage, Dave Mustaine walked back on for second.  “Thank you…for believing in me!”, he yelled out, before walking off for good.  As I said earlier, this was allegedly going to be the last time he toured not just under the Megadeth banner, but at all.  This would go on for another several months, and on to his first ever attempt at a festival gig, which I did go to.  But that’s for another article.

I no longer remember much about what happened after I left the building with my band, but I can only assume I bumped into Rob again and I’m sure we had to have finally exchanges numbers, either outside the building or on the ferry heading home.  He’d tag along with Idrees and I to see Megadeth in New Jersey two years later.  What I do remember, however, was driving not home, but to my Dad’s house after I was dropped off by ferry.  It was almost 2am; I knew that it’d be way easier to sleep there than home, where my jackass brother and mother were most likely fighting even that late at night.  I totally skipped my Astronomy class the following afternoon, having woken up around the time the class had just started, I think.  No regerts.  None.  But my radio show was that afternoon so I did have to head to campus whether I like it or not.  The show’s opener that afternoon?

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In Memory Of Nick Menza

“TELL ME THIS ISN’T TRUE! I woke at 4 AM to hear Nick Menza passed away on 5/21 playing his drums w/Ohm at the Baked Potato.”

Well Dave, it’s true, sadly – not to mention extremely random!  Guess this serves you right for trying to low ball the guy just last year, eh?

I woke up very late today, having slept in after a very long powerlifting meet, which I’ll write about another time.  My girlfriend woke up after I did when I realized we slept the entire morning and she went to her phone.  “Holy shit!”, she said with the look of sheer shock on her face, and that when she showed me the Blabbermouth article:

“Former MEGADETH Drummer NICK MENZA Dies AT 51”

“WHAT?!”  I proceeded to read that he had passed out on stage in Studio City, Ca last night, three songs into a set with Jazz Fusion band OHM and was pronounced dead on arrival, most likely of a heart attack.  How ironic.  Because a heart attack is exactly how OHM’s last drummer, David Eagle, died just a year ago.  To further add to the irony for those of you who are completely unaware, OHM is fronted by ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland.

A lot of musicians have been dropping like flies all year, most of them I truly could give two shits about but THIS is just a tad too random for me.  And it bothers me because this guy was seriously such a great drummer.  Everything he did, whether it was complicated or simple, sounded amazing because his feel was perfect.  Every time.

It definitely showed on those four albums he did with Megadeth, even on Cryptic Writings, the beginning of the band’s downfall as far as I’m concerned.  Listen to anything off his first two albums with them alone, Rust In Peace and Countdown To Extinction, and you’ll probably have no choice but to agree that he was probably the most athletic drummer Megadeth ever had.  Gar Samuelson was jazzy, Chuck Behler was damn good too, but neither Gar or Chuck had Nick’s energy.  Oh, it also helped that he had an incredible physique to go with that ability!

I wrote an article about Nick just over a year ago, not too long after I began this blog.  At the time it had been revealed that both Nick and Marty Friedman were in talks with Dave Mustaine regarding rejoining the band, prompting a full-on Rust In Peace-era reunion.  Problem?  Mustaine wanted to pretty much low ball Nick to the point that he’d be getting pennies in plain English.  Not too long before that he approached Mustaine during NAMM and Mustaine completely brushed him off – very immature for a guy that said he fired Nick from the band back in 1998 because of his immaturity.  Hey Dave, so…who’s the immature one now, Mr. Born-Again Bitch?

On top of that I’ve been seeing some recent pictures of Nick in the last few hours, he was looking really good and clearly looked like he was having a lot of fun on stage too.  My condolences go out to his family.  Here are a few tracks to demonstrate the sheer talent of Nick Menza without resorting to “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”.

Rest In Peace Nick Menza 1964 – 2016

The Perpetual Burn of Jason Becker

Jason Becker was a rising guitar shred G.O.D who had it all coming to him.  To say he mastered the guitar at a young age would be the biggest understatement in all of shred.  His father, Gary, taught him the basics and Jason took it up about twenty levels.  After steadily building a reputation just by making everyone shit their pants with his abnormally original style he nailed the gig of a lifetime as David Lee Roth’s new guitarist, replacing Steve Vai.  And then, just like that…he had problems walking right….then came any musician’s worst nightmare, he lost feeling in his hands…it was then that he discovered he had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  And just like that…it was all over for Jason Becker…or was it?

Since moving in with my girlfriend in New Jersey a little over two weeks ago we connected my Amazon Prime account to her TV when she searched through the documentaries section and discovered the documentary Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet.  We both knew there was a documentary on Jason but neither of us ever saw it but we were tired so we finally got around to watching it two nights ago.  Watching it my mind was flooded with every emotion that can be pulled out of you from a watching a documentary on a guy who should’ve been dead years ago.

The film opens up with a home video of a teenage Jason Becker getting ready to play the Bob Dylan “classic”, “Mr. Tambourine Man” (that’s right I quoted the word classic because the song is garbage!).  This scene alone summarizes the underlying theme of the entire movie, that of a close bond between father and son, a bond between son and a family that would find itself going to the ends of the earth to find a way, any way, to save their ungodly talented son’s life.  It almost makes the story of his career and undeniable musical influence completely irrelevant.  But of course it’s still covered anyway – why would it not be??

As I said earlier, his father was the one to teach him how to play guitar, albeit the basics, and Jason obviously ran like fuck with it.  The movie goes into great detail with this, along with showing 8mm and vhs home videos of Jason practicing at home, listening to the likes of Van Halen, covering Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Black Star” at a school talent show where, well, lets just say the school’s population generally liked hip hop.  And I will also go ahead and say his version sounded even better than the original!  And no that’s not because I can’t stand Yngwie either.

Another gem in this movie is the interviews with several of the people in Jason’s life from his family to the guys he worked with including David Lee Roth drummer Greg Bissonette, ex-Cacophony bandmate/future Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman, as well as peers such as Shrapnel Records founder Mike Varney, who hooked Jason up with Marty to start Cacophony, Steve Vai, Ritchie Kotzen and Joe Satriani.  It’s an absolute privilege to hear their stories of how they all met Jason, the accomplishments they all made together, their takes on his playing, watching him transform into this in-demand guitar genius who’s creative mind knew absolutely no boundaries as far as anyone knew.

It’s actually a fun ride, watching Jason’s rise to the top through the interviews, the videos, the music….that other worldly guitar!!!…blaring in the background.  You see it all, his recording alongside Marty in Cacophony, his desire to break out on his own with the legendary Perpetual Burn, and what really should’ve been his big break with David Lee Roth.  Hell, it’s one thing to worship Eddie but to be the right hand man of the guy who sang on those first six records during that time period?? Score!  Right??

But this was were the fun sadly ended.  And by the time he was diagnosed with the crippling ALS he was just hoping he could at least get a tour in with Diamond Dave before his imminent departure and full on nerve degeneration began.  That now iconic picture I posted here of Jason kissing his Carvin guitar?  Yeah, he’s on his knees because he already was having a hard time standing up without a cane.  Fucked up but it’s still a true story.  Judging by how positive a person his family and friends portrayed him as he most likely would’ve toured with Roth had he not lost feeling in his hands.  That did him in.  His future as a guitar god to a more mainstream audience familiar with Eddie Van Halen?  Over.

From here we see how hard it must have been to lose the ability to do anything at all.  For those of you who don’t know, those with ALS generally don’t survive.  His parents, and caregivers – who ironically are both ex-girlfriends (Jason!  You devil you!) – show more love and support to him than most families would.  His father showed he has a lot of patience because he designed a geometric letter system that’s used for him and Jason’s mother to communicate with Jason using Jason’s eyes in preparation for Jason’s eventual inability to talk ever again.

He lost all hope when his doctor asked him if he even wanted to live anymore, as his throat began swelling up.  He shockingly said he DID want to live.  He wasn’t ready to give up yet!  So he was fitted with a tube in his throat to help him breath and take in food.  And even better?  He’s still writing music with the help of a computer.  He’s released a few albums since he’s been robbed of his amazing ability yet he still has the mental strength to carry on??  How???

Jason’s story up until a certain point is almost similar to that of Randy Rhoads’.  A hot young guitar player who works hard until he gets the gig of a lifetime, makes everyone shit their pants with his playing only for it to be cut short before he could ever reach his true potential.  There is one major difference though.  The thing is, I don’t know how I’d react if I found out I could never play guitar again because I was diagnosed with ALS.  I’d much rather crash a plane into a house and die like Randy did than EVER have to suffer like this poor son a bitch has to do everyday.  Fuck it – I’d refuse to leave the hospital unless I knew I could be euthanized right there and then.  Yeah, I said it.

He’s been in a wheelchair unable to physically do anything for maybe 25 years now – pretty much his entire adult life!  Once again, he has an incredibly devoted support system in his family and two exes turned caregivers (this guy must’ve been the best sex either of them ever had for them to give up everything to take care of him!).  But here’s my problem.  His parents are getting older now.  I think his parents are the only two people who know how to communicate with Jason the way they do.  So what would happen then if they go before he does?  What if anything were to happen with his caregivers?  Sure, the easy answer is a nursing home but things will undeniably never be the same again.  The diet he’s currently on alone is the reason this guy happens to look so healthy.  He won’t get that in a nursing home.  I also worry that once his inner support system is gone he’ll eventually be taken advantage of.  I’d know from experience.  My grandfather, who suffered brain damage thanks to a stroke, had a caregiver.  Guess what?  My father discovered that the rotten piece of shit was taking his clothes and shipping them off to her family back in Granada.  See…point is anything can happen.  I almost want Jason to die just so he won’t experience this shit because I think it will happen.

That being said, I have nothing but endless respect and admiration for Jason Becker.  The documentary, more than covering his outstanding career and subtly highlighting his special bond with his incredibly strong and loving family, sends an important message.  If this guy, who should’ve died at least 20 years ago, is still finding the inner desire to live life everyday in the face of this crippling disease, then you can do anything.  Tony Iommi was introduced to Django Reinhardt after he lost his fingertips.  Django’s hand was crippled in a fire and he could only play with two fingers.  But not even that story holds a candle to Jason Becker’s.  Life is short and as Jason learned things can be taken away in a heartbeat.  In a cruel twist of irony he’s recorded telling his mom that he feels weird that he was the only guy in Cacophony with nothing to bitch about.  “When is something bad going to happen to me?”  He asked.  Well, we know how that ended.  But he fought through it all and will continue to fight.

Jason at his best:

My Thoughts on the Nick Menza Situation

Nick Menza

I read about this when the news broke but I was away in Kentucky with my girlfriend so I had no time to write about this.  Just a few days ago former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza finally broke his silence regarding the constant rumors that he and former guitarist Marty Friedman were rejoining Megadeth following the sudden departures of Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick not too long ago.  What he had to say was not too surprising but still a bit disappointing; but I’m not disappointed at Nick at all.  To save some time I’ll make this as quick as I can.

Not long after Shawn and Chris bounced on the two Daves, Justis Mustaine, Dave Mustaine’s son, posted a video of David Ellefson jamming out on “Rust in Peace…Polaris” with a drummer, but was careful not to show his face.  It sounded too good to be anyone else but Nick Menza so the rumor mill began.  To fuel the fire more any time the two Daves or even Nick himself were approached on the subject neither one of them gave a straight answer.  So we were all a tad saddened to learn that Mustaine had hired Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler to play drums for the next album.  Should be interesting to hear, don’t get me wrong, I’m a Lamb of God fan and that band is HUGELY influenced by Megadeth.

Then came Nick’s statement.  First off he revealed that he was in fact the headless drummer in Justis’ video.  Well, duh!!  I mean come on, who else would that be?  No one can play the way Nick does!  As I said before, it was too good to be anyone else!  He also revealed that he also recorded a few drum tracks for the upcoming album and he even had dinner with the two Daves, their ex-manager, Ron Laffitte, and even Marty Friedman.  Sounds good right?  Well apparently not.  As soon as Nick got home he decided it was time to talk writing credits.  This is where shit gets dicey because at the end of the day this is the music business.  Sometimes agreements get worked out, sometimes they don’t.

According to Nick he received a “very unfair deal that is so wrong”, basically insinuating that Mustaine was going to give him pennies, in comparison to what he alone must make off royalties.  When he tried to renegotiated with Mustaine he apparently blocked Nick’s e-mails, changed his number and even fired Ron as their manager for the second time. I don’t know about you but that last part sounds a bit extreme to me.  No?

But then Nick said the one thing that once again makes him come off as the better man yet again:

“Despite this dark final chapter, I wish MEGADETH the heartiest of health, happiness and success with their future plans.”

Boom!  Done!  Here’s the thing – this is not the first time that this has happened to Nick and neither is this the first time Nick acted as the better man.  During his time as the youngest member of Megadeth during their most successful years, he was seen as immature, and was pulling hi-jinks that the other members had naturally grown out of.  But as life has shown – people do change.  A while back Nick spotted Dave Mustaine at NAMM and decided to approach him like a man.  Dave decided to brush him off.  Nick was surely a tad hurt but he still wished Dave the best, making him the better man and showing that he did in fact grow up.  Hell, I know I’d be cursing his ass out if I were put in that position.

So honestly, I gained a bit more respect for Nick.  He got screwed by a guy he spent the best years of his career with and instead of going online and being bitter about it he was the better man.  And he would’ve totally been justified to be bitter.  Who changes their number just to avoid a guy that wants to talk??  A bitch – that’s who!  I had a lot of respect for Dave Mustaine.  I grew up worshiping the ground he walked on.  His music – back when his shit hit a nerve with people – made such a HUGE impact on my guitar style and my life as a whole.  I’ve witnessed him seemingly losing his mind over the last few years but this is just pathetic, so low it’s even beneath him.  Over royalties?  Really?  There are other reasons to change your number to avoid someone, not over something so fucking petty.

I’d like to wish Nick Menza the best.  I’m excited to hear his new project with James LoMenzo and Chris fucking Poland!!  I sadly can’t say the same about Megadeth.  They lost it a long time ago but Mustaine lost a little personal integrity now as well.  I just wish David Ellefson could see the light, get out again and stay out this time for his own sanity.

Final Thoughts…

Unrelated to the whole Nick Menza situation; I’d like to express my relief in also hearing recently that not only did Black Sabbath pull out of their Ozzfest Japan shows in November, but apparently it was never to be their farewell.  Sharon Osbourne seemingly forgot to mention that it would’ve just been their last Japan show.  It was kind of odd since the band does want to do one last album and a farewell tour.  Maybe the tour will end at home like I said they should do.  Who knows?