Live Report - The Big Four - Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax Live at Sonisphere Sofia, Bulgaria June 22nd, 2010
Metal Reviews
Thrash Metal

Release year: 0
Reviewed by Marty
Before you go'd he get tickets for this show!!....relax, I saw it in the theaters just like the rest of us and you know what, I had just as much fun watching this show in relaxed air-conditioned comfort and at a fraction of the cost of a concert ticket (actually free passes courtesy of Leila at Rebel Music). When it was finally announced after months of rumours that The Big Four of thrash metal Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax would all share the stage for the very first time in history at a series of Sonisphere Festivals in Europe, all of us here in North America sort of went WTF? Why not over here? The reason is quite simple, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer have played very extensively in North America over the last several years but not as much in Europe. Also, the presence of dozens of other bands at these festival appearances acted as a sort of "buffer" to help prevent any sort of trouble; knowing the history and animosity that has existed over the years between some of these bands. That combination was an almost certain guarantee of success. When I heard about the theater showing of the Sofia, Bulgaria Sonisphere Festival in over a 100 theaters worldwide, I was definitely interested albeit not overly excited, as I usually much prefer the actual live concert setting. On the plus side, it was a chance for me to take my 14 year old son to see The Big Four without having to re-mortgage my house and battle all the riff-raff of going to concerts anymore let alone stand for over 4 hours like the people in Sofia had to.

When we arrived about 30 minutes prior to the start of the concert, we got to see chats with Lars Ulrich, Scott Ian and Dave Mustaine about the whole Big Four thing as well as discussions about musical influences and what they meant to them. The show started right on time with Anthrax pounding out Caught In A Mosh to really get things going. It was great to see Joey Belladonna back and he was in fine form and seemed to be really enjoying the moment. Other songs in their set included Got the Time, Madhouse, Antisocial, Metal Thrashing Mad, I Am The Law and Indians including a tribute to Ronnie James Dio with an excerpt from Heaven and Hell. Later on, Lars, Scott, Kerry King and Dave Mustaine all shared their special memories of Ronnie James Dio and there was a nice tribute by James Hetfield as well during the Metallica set.

Just as Megadeth started their set, the skies opened up and poured with Dave Mustaine giving the evil eye to the heavens. Megadeth was very solid and very tight but Dave's voice was off and he couldn't really reach the upper registers; sometimes sounding like a squawking chicken in the process. It's too bad as it was very noticeable and was a real distraction away from just how fierce they sound right now with Dave Ellefson back and Chris Broderick on guitar. Their set included Holy Wars... the Punishment Due, Hangar 18, Headcrusher, In My Darkest Hour, Skin O' My Teeth, Hook In Mouth, Sweating Bullets, Symphony Of Destruction, Peace Sells/Holy Wars reprise. The crowd took a while to get going for Megadeth but were really into it by the end of their set.

Slayer was up next and I really pity any band that has to follow these guys. They are perhaps one of the tightest bands out there; never missing a cue and their overall live performance is just so powerful that even though I'm not a huge fan, I thought they were one of the best bands of the evening. With no less than 36 Marshall cabinets in 3 stacks of 6 on either side of the drum riser, they proceeded to pulverize us with World Painted Blood, War Ensemble, Hate Worldwide, Seasons in the Abyss, Angel of Death, Mandatory Suicide, Chemical Warfare, South of Heaven and Raining Blood. It was very weird not seeing Tom Araya swinging his hair around and headbanging like a maniac but with his recent neck surgery for a "work related condition", I think those days are over. He looked rather thin and gaunt but was all smiles and really seemed happy to be there. The mosh pits swelled to much larger proportions during their set.

Metallica were the stars of the night and although I think they were much tighter back in the late 80's and early 90's, they put on a really solid show that focussed mainly on the classics. Starting with Creeping Death, they quickly launched into For Whom The Bell Tolls, Harvester Of Sorrow and then Fade To Black. I loved Kirk's brief U.F.O. Rock Bottom excerpt before that one. The crowd was in a frenzy and even us theater-goers were getting into it as well. Other tracks in their set included Cyanide, One, Master Of Puppets, Nothing Else Matters, Enter Sandman, Hit The Lights, Seek and Destroy and a history making version of Am I Evil that included all four bands onstage at once for a rousing edited edition of the classic Diamond Head song. That was very, very cool and was definitely a goose-bump moment.

Judging by the camaraderie between the bands and especially between Lars and Dave Mustaine, it looks like the proverbial hatchet has finally been buried between these two. It's great to see everyone on the same page and being supportive of each other but Slayer's absence (except for drummer Dave Lombardo) for the Am I Evil jam as well as for most of the interviews makes you wonder about whether or not they are really "onboard" like the other three bands for what The Big Four shows actually mean for the legacy and future of metal. On the whole, I thought the sound was solid and just loud enough that after 4 hours, it didn't kill your ears. It also would've been nice for a brief intermission between bands as one performance just rolled right into the other. Musically, I thought that Megadeth was the best technically with Slayer a close second and the Megadeth guitar duo of Dave Mustaine and Chris Broderick is just wicked. It's too bad about Dave's voice though. All the bands were great in fact and overall, the whole spectacle was very special and I went home with the feeling that I had just actually seen these bands in person. With the high price of concert tickets anymore and the inconvenience of getting to concerts for some, this could be a new era in the whole live concert experience and I hope it continues. People all around me were headbanging and I read that mosh pits actually broke out in some of the theaters....awesome!! Each band's set was edited for the theater showing and of course, right at the end of the show, James Hetfield announced that the DVD version would be released later this fall with the complete unedited concert. No matter which way you slice it; it's all about marketing now isn't it?

Killing Songs :
Marty quoted
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