LOWELL - The return of Gigantour, a nicely curated package tour of heavy metal bands, is just one more step in a great run underway by Megadeth.
The band headlines and assembles Gigantour, and this edition - the first since 2008 - includes Motorhead, Volbeat, and Lacuna Coil. Gigantour returned to the area Sunday with a stop at the Tsongas Center at University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
It was a smart and well-paced show, one that illuminated metal’s various angles. Italy’s Lacuna Coil put a Gothic spin on the sound. Denmark’s Volbeat fused heaviness and swing for a metal-billy blowout. England’s Motorhead remains a marvel of speed and volume after 37 years. The US’s own Megadeth displayed the melodic thrash it helped create in the early ’80s; it remains a cornerstone of heavy music.
Gigantour follows Megadeth’s celebratory tour marking the 20th anniversary of its classic “Rust in Peace’’; reunion shows with fellow Big Four metal bands Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax; participation in last year’s touring Mayhem Festival; and release of “Th1rt3en,’’ which contains the Grammy-nominated song “Public Enemy No. 1.’’
Megadeth’s new material nicely fit into the set the band delivered Sunday. “Public Enemy No. 1’’ and “Guns, Drugs, and Money’’ showcased band leader Dave Mustaine’s wry side, while “Whose Life Is It Anyway’’ let him uncork his patented outrage.
The set list covered all eras of Megadeth, with vintage cuts “Sweating Bullets’’ and “Peace Sells’’ still resonant and full of turmoil. Throughout the show, Mustaine and fellow guitarist Chris Broderick created a feast of guitar shred.
Gigantour also afforded Mustaine the chance to perform the ballad “A Tout Le Monde’’ the way he originally envisioned it: as a duet with a female singer - Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia.
Including Motorhead always makes it a better party. With “Bomber,’’ “Stay Clean,’’ “Going to Brazil,’’ and the like, indefatigable Lemmy Kilmister marshaled Motorhead through a set of primal rock dressed in metal’s muscle and punk’s sneer.
Volbeat likewise kept its metal close to rock’s roots. The band invoked Johnny Cash with “Sad Man’s Tongue’’ and covered “I Only Want to Be With You,’’ a hit for Dusty Springfield.
Lacuna Coil opened Gigantour with a solid selection of new material. Scabbia and co-vocalist Andrea Ferro effectively tie together a broad sound that swings from pummeling to soaring.Scott McLennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ScottMcLennan1.