The Battle of San Bernardino
By Seth M
Friday the 13th ~ considered by most to be an unlucky, cursed day ~ is a GREAT day if you’re a metal head in (or visiting) Southern California and able to attend The Battle of San Bernardino. On this particular 13th,no one was worried about black cats or guys in hockey masks; their concerns, if any, were strictly surrounding the nearly 100 degree heat and the painfully slow (like death, actually) California traffic. To give you an idea of the traffic: I flew into LAX from NY, went to meet up with friends, and it took us hours ~ yes, hours ~ to get from West Hollywood to the San Manuel Amphitheater…and it’s only 64 miles. (As a side note, the San Manuel Amphitheater originated as the Glen Helen Pavilion and has had various name changes through the years. Also, with a 65,000 person capacity [mainly lawn], it’s one of the largest amphitheatres in the US ~ as well as the host of the memorable 1983 US Festival.)
If you were one of the 30,000+ people to make it through the traffic and heat, you were in for a heavy metal treat ~ a bill that featured Warbringer, Sabaton, Overkill, Testament, Anthrax, Megadeth and headliner Iron Maiden, the one and only. Unfortunately given the previously mentioned traffic, we caught only the last few notes of Testament ~ but made it in time for the main events. As I made my way to the stage for Anthrax, the energy in the amphitheater was unbelievable and when the band hit the stage it was pure insanity. Anthrax completely owned this place and had an amazing, albeit shorter than normal, set:
Caught in a Mosh
In the End
T.N.T. (AC/DC cover)
Fight ‘em ‘Til You Can’t
I Am The Law
Mosh pits were breaking out throughout the sea of people, even up on the lawn as Anthrax played their last show, on the two year anniversary, in support of Worship Music. Below is just one example of what it looked like from the stage (snapped with my cell phone).
At the end of their set, Anthrax brought out their entire family, crew and all, as a thank you to their fans and their whole team, for what was an amazing tour capped off by a truly amazing show.
There are few bands that could follow this Anthrax show, and Megadeth is one of them. This was a special show in its own right for Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine since it was his 52nd birthday, and after a little preshow b’day party, he was primed to rock.
Megadeth hit the stage after sundown and were really the first to take advantage of the lighting and screens surrounding them. They sounded great but their energy could hardly compare to that of Anthrax. Of course they are a totally different type of band ~ incredibly technical and more political ~ and whereas Anthrax were having the time of their lives enjoying the fans and their last show, Megadeth was just hammering the audience with hard core music.
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
Tornado of Souls
Symphony of Destruction
Encore: Holy Wars
It was a stellar set indeed and the fans acknowledged this special day by singing “Happy Birthday” as Dave and the band returned for their encore of “Holy Wars.”
Then, as if the energy from Anthrax and the continued musical assault from Megadeth weren’t enough, it was time for Iron Maiden.
As an old school Maiden fan, I have rarely been disappointed by the band and I knew I was in store for a great show. “Great show?” That’s kind of an understatement, with the lights, backdrops, pyro, amazing musicianship and Bruce Dickenson running and jumping all over the stage, it’s just nonstop action ~ and of course Eddie was there, too.
Iron Maiden played an incredible set and while Bruce Dickenson worked the stage and crowd, Nicko McBrain and Steve Harris kept the fans clapping and cheering in rhythm as Dave Murry, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers traded guitar licks. The highlight for me was back to back fan favorites “The Trooper” and “Number of the Beast,” but having “Can I Play with Madness,” “Wasted Years,” and “Aces High” in the same set as well as a number of other Maiden classics was just as big a thrill. The full Maiden set was as follows:
Can I Play with Madness
2 Minutes to Midnight
Afraid to Shoot Strangers
The Number of the Beast
Run to the Hills
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Fear of the Dark
The Evil that Men Do
From start to finish, Maiden took this crowd to a new level. It was an amazing day of pure metal music but if this were truly a battle, then Iron Maiden was clearly the winner!
All photos by Seth M for FlashWounds