Friday, September 20, 2013

Iron Maiden & Megadeth @ San Manuel Amphitheater. 9/13/13.

The Battle of San Bernadino. An eight hour heavy metal bonanza in the blistering outskirts of Southern California. Somewhere along the edge of civilization (LA County) and chaos (the desolate landscape/highway system that leads to Las Vegas) a shit ton of awesome metal bands besieged the San Manuel Amphitheater (the largest outdoor amphitheater in North America) for a full day of mosh pitting, dirt breathing, guitar shredding goodness. Iron Maiden, aka the coolest band ever, headlined the event while thrash metal legends Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament and Overkill; along with neo-thrash younglings Warbringer, handled supporting duties. "Run To The Hills" indeed.

Well, that was a sick lineup. Too bad life and traffic interfered. Between conflicting work schedules, the basic human need for food/subsistence and the two and half hour trek to the venue (FML road construction/detours/Friday after work traffic blows) we missed all the opening acts before Megadeth. Hearing Anthrax play "I Am the Law" while hiking to our seats and watching them take a bow after closing their set with "Antisocial," doesn't count. 

For whatever reason, Megadeth was the only group from thrash metal's "Big Four" lineup that I had never seen in concert. Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, I've seen them all at least twice over the past decade but have somehow always missed Megadeth. Well, on Friday the 13th, on band leader Dave Mustaine's birthday no less, the curse was finally lifted. The band opened with "Hangar 18" and the 30,000 people in attendance went ballistic. 
photo by:  Kathy Flynn @
Thankfully, Dave and co. played a greatest hits set, with only one track off their new album Super Collider making the cut. After years of struggling with live vocals, Megadeth have recently begun tuning their guitars down a step so that Dave's voice is finally in key with the music once again. This meant that the vocals sounded fine but the music to some of the band's more technical songs *cough*"Tornado of Souls" & "Holy Wars..."*cough* sounded a bit funny. By funny, I mean distorted and slow and kind of silly. Songs with more groove and start/stops like "Sweating Bullets" and the ending breakdown of "Wake Up Dead," were awesome though, especially with thousands of people shouting along. Finally got to see Megadeth on Mustaine's birthday. Circle of life.

photo by: Kathy Flynn, @
Iron Maiden are magicians. Swashbuckling, acrobatic, hypnotists. Only Iron Maiden could make such a large and sterile venue like San Manuel feel like a cozy club gig. Their music and stage show are larger than life. Attending an Iron Maiden show is an all encompassing experience. The elaborate backdrops on stage, the fireworks and pyrotechnics, the singing and chanting, and dear lord the guitar harmonies. It's like hanging out with the singing outlaws from The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but in Tomorrowland and Frontierland all at once. This was the final run of their 2013 Maiden England tour, where they revisited songs from their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album. It was pretty much the same show as their concert from last summer, but with a crap load more people. The audience at a Maiden show is almost as important as the members onstage. The crowd at The Battle of San Bernadino was in full scale celebration mode. I took some crappy cell phone footage during "Run To the Hills" and "Fear of the Dark" and the audience was so loud I could barely hear the band. The maniacs in the lawn area behind us kept the entire venues spirits up, lighting multiple bonfires and chanting/jumping in unison all night. The rabid crowd response kept the band's energy going which resulted in yet another spectacular Iron Maiden show for the record books. How these guys keep rocking so hard in their 50's while I struggled walking back to the car once the lights came on, is something I'll never know.

Some awesome individual recorded the ENTIRE concert. Check it out below:


  1. As I've said recently everybody respects and loves Iron Maiden but it's amazing that such incredible other support acts were there as well, you must have had an absolute blast man! Megadeth are my personal favourite, A Tout Le Monde is one of my favourite songs of all time!

  2. It's one of my dreams to see Maiden live really. To have seen both them and Megadeth, even with problems, is something that makes me jealous.

  3. I've missed Maiden twice, and Megadeth once, and haven't gotten to see any of the others. I regret it all, especially after posts like these.