Once again, it's birthday time for me and thrash legend, Dave Mustaine! Last year, I celebrated by reviewing the twentieth anniversary concert of the album that got me into Megadeth, Countdown to Extinction. This year, I decided to go with their very first live video, Rude Awakening, a show from Phoenix, Arizona on November 17, 2001.
Review by Crispy
Added: September 13, 2016
For many, this concert release comes in something of an awkward part of the band's history. Their 'classic' lineup had just dissolved with the departure of guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza a year or so before that, and it was in support of their The World Needs a Hero album. Most critics consider it a mediocre release, and I personally think it's their worst album by a long shot. Like I said though, this was Megadeth's first concert DVD, and they weren't about to just phone it in. The nineteen song set list consists of:
-Dread and the Fugitive Mind
-Wake Up Dead
-In My Darkest Hour
-Return to Hangar
-Hook in Mouth
-1000 Times Goodbye
-Tornado of Souls
-Ashes in Your Mouth
-Symphony of Destruction
Let me tell you, Megadeth were in fine form that night. Along with mainstays Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson, newcomers Al Patrelli and Jimmy Degrasso had something to prove, and they gave everything they had. I always looked down on those two due to my opinions on the World Needs a Hero and the preceding Risk albums (the latter of which Al did not appear on), but after watching this, they may have actually been able to put out some decent albums had this lineup lasted longer. While the vocals admittedly sound a bit echoy, as if they were recorded with an external system and not directly from Dave's microphone, this was back in his prime and he nailed those snarling high notes he wasn't able to hit anymore in the Countdown concert. Plus, they made sure to put a little something extra into the songs. I mean, if they're going to just reproduce exactly what they sounded like on the album, you might as well just kick out a Greatest Hits compilation. No worries here, as we've got an exceptionally aggressive take on "Sweating Bullets", a much faster version of "Reckoning Day", and some extra solos and drum fills inserted into "She Wolf".
The folks behind the production stepped up to the plate nicely as well. I've noticed that a lot of concert DVDs like to cut from member to member, flashing through camera views so often your brain doesn't even have time to register what you're seeing. Rude Awakening handled this beautifully, aligning the camera cuts with the tempo of the music. For example, the ending of "Hangar 18" alternates between precise solos and heavier guitar chunking. By keeping a constant camera view on the soloist, but using quick cuts during the riffs, it has the dual advantage of marrying audio and video along with letting us enjoy the talent on display. The stage lightning was a constant barrage of reds and blues, with the spotlights occasionally catching the camera lens directly. While this certainly could have been annoying, they used the occasions to mask some of the cuts. It was an incredibly cool effect. I do have to admit though, "Ashes in Your Mouth" started off with bright white lights shining on the band, and the contrast made me realize that I certainly would have liked to see some clearer shots throughout the running time. That's only a minor gripe though; the only true complaint I had was the editing between songs. It's pretty obvious that there was some missing material here. Along with the removed songs, the vast majority of Dave's stage banter was also left on the editing room floor. The only ones remaining were a small dig at Metallica before "Mechanix" and a few announcements on what album the next song was on. Trust me, Dave likes to talk, and while I'm sure they were worried about pacing, they were definitely missed.
Now, Rude Awakening has been released both as a CD and a DVD, and the two have very different track listings. You see, the band actually recorded two different concerts, this one and the preceding night's, with slightly different set lists. Both shows share a core set list, while the first concert featured five additional songs ("Kill the King", "Angry Again", "Almost Honest", "Train of Consequences", and "À Tout le Monde") and the second had two ("The Conjuring" and a medley of "Time: The Beginning" and "Use the Man"). This DVD only features that core set, with the extra songs from the first night added in the bonus features with a lot of unnecessary visual editing. Meanwhile, the footage of the pair from the second was simply set aside, until the audio eventually emerged in a compilation a few years later. Truthfully, I think they would have been better off just releasing the entire concert of that first night. It was a longer set and that night's extra songs are much better than the second's. Plus, "Kill the King" was a B-side that was released on the greatest hits compilation, Capitol Punishment. It's a great song and certainly could have used the extra boost to make sure fans didn't miss it. Now, this is just lamenting some lost potential, but it certainly doesn't harm the video we did get.
Despite a few nitpicks, Rude Awakening is firing on all cylinders. Sixteen years was well worth the wait. In fact, it was just in time as this was the final show before Dave suffered nerve damage in his arm forcing him to shelve the band for a couple years. Through sheer force of will (the only way Dave knows how to go through life) he retaught himself guitar and revived Megadeth from the dead, but in a horrible, parallel universe where this is the band's final release, it wouldn't have been a bad way to go out. 9/10.