Gig Reviews

Megadeth and Marty Friedman reunited at Budokan

Megadeth reunited on stage with Marty Friedman in Tokyo after 23 years.

Megadeth at Nippon Budokan, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan on 27th February 2023

The evening had it all lined up: The first Japan tour in six years for Megadeth, one of the best-ever thrash metal bands. A legendary venue in the greatest city in the world. And to top it off, rumours that got confirmed ahead of the tour that former guitarist Marty Friedman would get up on stage to reunite with the band for a few songs. A live stream was set up for fans globally and it is likely that we will soon see this as an official live release. The pressure was on them to live up to the expectations. And, boy, Megadeth delivered.

Having witnessed the amazing rehearsal three days earlier, when Marty played with his old band for the first time in 23 years, my expectations were sky-high for the on-stage reunion. Seeing Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman together again at the rehearsal was such a treat. They clearly have huge respect for each other and were eager to put on a terrific performance together. The rest of the current Megadeth line-up – Kiko Loureiro on lead guitar, James LoMenzo on bass and Dirk Verbeuren on drums – were all smiles during the Friday rehearsal. This was history in the making and they clearly enjoyed being part of it.

Built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, in 1966 The Beatles became the first rock band to play at now legendary Budokan. Now it was Megadeth’s turn. The excitement of the audience was electric when the band opened the evening with “Hangar 18”. No surprises there and the band carried on with a terrific set of old favourites and newer material. In the middle of the set, archive footage of Marty Friedman suddenly appeared on the big video screens. Then Dave Mustaine introduced Marty as he walked onto the stage to the audience’s delight. Marty and the band played “Countdown to Extinction”, an excellent, but perhaps unexpected, song choice. It’s almost a deep cut as it hasn’t been played live for a decade. Marty and Megadeth went on to perform the obvious “Tornado of Souls” and “Symphony of Destruction”. Wow! I had goosebumps when Marty launched into the solo on “Tornado”. As excellent as it was to see the Mustaine/Friedman partnership reunited, it was also fantastic to see the vastly different lead guitarists Marty and Kiko Loureiro play together.

There were fans – mainly grown men – crying with happiness and amazement in the audience. Some screamed and some just quietly stood still with open mouths. Ever since Marty relocated to Japan in 2003, Japanese fans have dreamt of a guest appearance during Megadeth’s Japan visits. Until recently I never thought that Marty would ever perform with the band again. Now it happened in front of my eyes. After the three songs, the historic on-stage reunion was over. But the evening wasn’t. Megadeth continued with the excellent “We’ll Be Back”, from the band’s latest album, before closing the show with the fan favourites “Peace Sells” and “Holy Wars”.

What an evening! What a band! What a reunion!