GIGANTOUR- Lacuna Coil, Volbeat, Motorhead and Megadeth- Milwaukee, WI- Eagles Ballroom 2/12/12
by John Parks
Photos by Todd Reicher
After being warned of the early start time but still finding ourselves wrapped up in preshow traffic and will call bullshit we missed the Lacuna Coil set which started at 6:30 sharp. We understand they played a tight 30 minute set and went over very well; judging by Lacuna vocalist Cristina Scabbia’s walk on during Megadeth we would tend to believe those reports.
We got there as Volbeat was kicking off and let me tell you the sound and crowd were fantastic. The crowd was way into the band, the give and take between band and audience was one of those magical and defining concert moments you always hope for but seldom get. The Volbeat guys had 45 minutes and made the very most of every second. They were gracious to the headliners and spoke very highly of all the bands on the bill (including Lacuna Coil) but were just as gracious to the crowd and made it a point to move around and connect with every single person they could, slapping every hand, throwing out wristbands, drumsticks, etc. That’s always nice to see and it was obvious that they were on FIRE. The crowd was well aware and singing along to almost every single song from “Guitar Gangster” to “Fallen” (including Michael quietly mentioning the victims of local murderer Jeffrey Dahmer) to the absolute magic of the set closer “Still Counting” which featured an unexpected but crowd pleasing moment of SLAYER folded in for good measure. Granted, this was my first time seeing VOLBEAT live but they were phenomenal. I must say that I have seen many, many bands in my 38 years and these guys were among the very best, if not THE best act I have ever seen. The show wrapped up with thousands of people chanting “Vol-beat, Vol-beat” and as we headed off to wander around it became clear that as many people were there to see the Danish kings of metal as were there to see the legendary headliners.
Motorhead was next up and took the stage with a fairly short time for tear down after Volbeat. Motorhead is one of those bands you simply have to see live and preferably up close. Having seen the band in smaller venues it was cool to see them in a bigger room like Eagles but for some reason or another the sound was not nearly as crisp as it was for Volbeat. Lemmy and the guys are such a machine at this point that they are pretty much able to kill at will without breaking a sweat. They seamlessly moved from one classic track to the next with little more banter than the expected “We are Motorhead and we play rock and roll”. The band and especially drummer Mikkey Dee seemed to have a tremendous amount of energy stored up for the beer guzzling, Harley riding Milwaukee crowd. I’ve seen crowds at past Motorhead shows stand and headbang, old school style, whereas the fans who turned up for this evening’s festivities seemed a bit more THRASHY and animated. It’s hard to explain how solid and dependable Motorhead is without having it sound like they are predictable. If you’ve seen them then you KNOW exactly what you are getting, balls to the wall metal with a classic true rock and roll backline. That classic rock and roll feel and style was the perfect and logical follow-up to the Volbeat guys. The guys know what they do the best and pretty much stick to that rather than experiment much. I heard some grumbles that Mikkey did a drum solo spot and sure, they probably could have crammed in another classic but it’s safe to say NONE of the MOTORHEAD faithful went home unhappy having gotten their dose of classics like “Ace of Spades”, “Killed By Death” and “Overkill”.
There was a little more tear down time before the Megadeth guys came on. I have to commend them for putting on such a solid show with the other three bands involved in this year’s GIGANTOUR. I came mostly as a Megadeth/Motorhead fan but walked away a serious VOLBEAT fan and thoroughly impressed with Cristina of Lacuna Coil, who provided one of the highlights with her amazing duet on “A Tout le Monde” towards the beginning of the headliner’s set. I think Megadeth is amazing in that they always put on a great live show despite lineup changes, promoting new albums or even fluctuating crowd tastes. Similar to Motorhead, you know when you go see Megadeth you will getting a technical masterpiece and the band was again, tight as a fist on this particular date in Milwaukee. This is a band that could easily play a much longer set but given the weariness that often sets in at package events like this they stuck to a nice mix of classics and new songs from “TH1RT3EN”.
I thought the new material sounded great, particularly “Public Enemy #1” , but the vocal mix was again far too low, similar to Motorhead’s. The band was still fantastic though and I often found myself wondering how on earth Dave Mustaine does it night in and night out. It seems as if he really never ages as he is in great shape and his rhythm guitar is as good as it EVER was. It was also nice to see David Ellefson back smiling and having the time of his life. Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick were as precise and hard-hitting as you’d expect and really made their difficult parts look ridiculously easy. Not sure why but some of the crowd seemed to lag a bit during the middle of the set which featured some of the best stuff from the guys including “Who’s Life Is This Anyway?” although the majority seemed to be stoked hearing lesser played tracks like “Foreclosure of a Dream” and “Dawn Patrol” make the cut. The highlight was a brutal encore of “Holy Wars” that did not in any way, shape or form disappoint. I could’ve stood around for even more Megadeth, it sort of felt like they were just getting started, but only a fool would complain about GIGANTOUR 2012.