Bloodstock live review: How Megadeth got their groove back
Venue: Bloodstock Open Air, Catton Hall, Derbyshire
After years of ups and downs playing live, thrash pioneers Megadeth are back in startling form
Lit from behind with a powerful spotlight, Dave Mustaine is totally rocking that big-haired Bonnie Tyler look as he yanks another skin-flaying speed-punk solo from his guitar. The super-sized screen behind him belches lurid visions of blazing street riots, nuclear explosions, alien autopsies, terrorist atrocities, robot death squads and 50 shades of alt.right conspiracy theory. The fun just never ends. After more than 30 years of surges and slumps, feuds and fall-outs, Megadeth find themselves uncannily in tune with the zeitgeist in 2017.
Headlining Bloodstock Open Air festival, Megadeth are unloading their full, multi-megaton payload on to a leafy corner of rural Derbyshire – with agreeably cataclysmic consequences. While some of the band’s more recent tours have felt perfunctory, they appear to be back on meaty and muscular form here. The rhythm guitar has real crunch and punch, the booming twin bass drums sound cavernously huge, the visuals are gloriously gaudy without swamping the songs.
Fresh blood has clearly been a factor in Megadeth’s current rude health. After multiple personnel changes, these all-American thrash pioneers are more of an international coalition nowadays. Last year Mustaine and long-standing bass guitarist David Ellefson were joined by Brazilian guitar virtuoso Kiko Loureiro and Belgian drummer Dirk Verberuren. Both feel like vital forces at Bloodstock, shredding and pounding the guts out of Hangar 18 and Wake Up Dead. Some long-time fans even claim this is the band’s best line-up since their fabled Nick Menza/Marty Freidman era. Which is arguable, but this much is certain: Megadeth have got their mojo back.