Megadeth and Marty Friedman made a little bit of metal guitar history as the thrash kingpins former lead guitarist joined the band onstage at Wacken Open Air, Germany, this weekend for a two-song cameo, tearing through Holy Wars… The Punishment Due and Tornado Of Souls.
Early in the year, Friedman was back onstage with Megadeth, joining them for three tracks during their livestreamed performance at Tokyo’s legendary Budokan. This Wacken performance was the first time he had played with the band in Europe in over 20 years.
While the existence of pro-shot on Friedman’s Instagram page suggests we might see some sort of official DVD/Blu-Ray release in the future, fan-shot footage has emerged on YouTube capturing what was a momentous occasion, and something to lift the spirits of the crowd who had to endure treacherous conditions underfoot.
Heavy rain had turned the site to a bog, with the festival organisers taking the unprecedented measure of stopping admissions, with EuroNews reporting that the sell-out crowd was reduced from 85,000 to 50,000.
Those who were there bore witness to Megadeth playing with three guitarists, with Dave Mustaine and lead guitarist Kiko Loureiro sharing rhythm duties while Friedman took lead, and he didn’t put a note out of place as he performed Tornado Of Souls, which has a solo that is an all-timer on the pantheon, and one that has become a rite of passage for many a shredder in training.
In a March interview with Guitar World, Friedman admitted that he would probably have approached the solo differently if he was doing it all again, but out of respect for the fans who have waited a long time to hear him play it again, he was going to perform it as it was recorded back in 1990.
“If there was any challenge at all, I guess it would be playing the solos the way the fans remember them, which is something I wanted to do,” said Friedman. “My playing has evolved so much since those songs came out, and there are so many nuances I would naturally do differently now.
“I had to resist the urge to play it like I would in 2023 and stick to the original way. For example, in a couple of those songs, I entered the solo on the downbeat, with the first note being the root of the chord. I would definitely avoid both of those things now, but apparently, I was fine with it back then.”
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Friedman’s performance inevitably would lead to debates over which electric guitar partnership has served Megadeth best.
For some, the state-of-the-art thrash of Rust In Peace and the box-office metal of Countdown To Extinction would make a persuasive case for Friedman.
Others will point to the creative kinship between Mustaine and Loureiro as the high-water mark. Maybe the best version of the band is to have Friedman and Loureiro – or at least to roll it out for special occasions.