During a recent interview at the Headbangers Con, Megadeath bassist David Ellefson explained why they decided to change the song to start their live shows after Pantera’s late drummer Vinnie Pauls insightful comment.

There is no doubt that Megadeth is one of the most successful and famous metal bands of all time and they are especially well-known for their amazing live performances. Thus, the band has often been asked what their secret for putting on such great shows is and how they manage to entertain their fans to that extent.

In his recent interview, Dave Ellefson revealed that Vinnie Paul, who passed away in 2018, is actually the person who inspired them to open with a song that would energize their fans from the first second that they come on the stage. As it turns out, until 2010, Megadeth would open the concert with their famous song ‘Holy Wars.’

This changed in 2010 when Dave Mustaine suffered from kidney stones and was suddenly hit with a lot of pain right before a big concert in Saint Petersburgh. However, Mustaine didn’t want to let their crowd down and was eager to give them a show they won’t forget. Seeing his willingness to perform, Dave Ellefson recommended that they start the show with their second song in line, ‘Trust‘ so that they perform one less song.

So, ‘Trust’ became the band’s opening song until 2013 when Vinnie Paul observed something which would change the course of Megadeth‘s live performances forever. In 2013, during the band’s Gigantour with Black Label Society, Hellyeah, Vinnie Paul who was a huge Megadeth fan and the members’ close friend said that opening with ‘Hangar 19‘ would energize their crowd more.

Mustaine and Ellefson looked at each other and decided to give it a go. The outcome was astonishing and since then, the band started opening their live shows with ‘Hangar 18.’ After Vinnie Paul’s passing, opening with ‘Hangar 18’ became a way of paying tribute to the unforgettable rockstar and a great way to cherish the memories they made together.

Here’s what Dave Ellefson said in the interview:

“For a long time, we used to open the show with ‘Holy Wars‘, and then we started to move that back to an encore. In 2010, we were on tour in Europe with Slayer — in ’10 or ’11 — and we were in Russia, Saint Petersburg; our first time there. And Dave fell ill with a kidney stone. He was starting to have some stones, and it hit him — I don’t know — an hour before we were gonna go on stage.

We thought we were gonna have to cancel the show. And out of nowhere — Dave’s a pretty tough dude, and all of a sudden, he just gets up and goes, ‘Okay, we’ve gotta go do it. We’ve gotta at least play five songs.’ And I went, ‘Are you sure?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah. We’ve got to.’ ‘All right.’

So I took the setlist, which I think at that time, one of the later songs in the set, we’d come out of ‘À Tout Le Monde’ into ‘Trust’ — we’d play ‘Trust’, ‘Symphony Of Destruction’, ‘Peace Sells’, ‘Holy Wars’; it was some kind of thing.

So I folded the setlist, and I said, ‘Look, why don’t we just start with Trust‘ and we’ll just play these five songs?’ So that’s what we did. And it worked really well. It was kind of fun… So, for the next two years, we opened the set every night with ‘Trust’ — on a couple of Gigantours.”

He continued by saying:

“Fast forward to 2013, we were on a Gigantour with Black Label Society, Hellyeah. And Vinnie Paul, who’s been a lifelong Megadeth fan and a good friend to us, he comes on the bus one day and he goes, ‘Man, y’all’s stage show is amazing, y’all’s light show is incredible.

Man, y’all gotta be opening with Hangar 18.’ ‘We went, ‘Really?’ Me and Dave kind of looked at each other, and Vinnie goes, ‘Yeah, man. I’m telling you, man. That’s the one, ‘Hangar 18′, right there.’ So, that night, we went on stage and opened with ‘Hangar 18,’ and it was, like, ‘Wow!’ It really had an excitement about it.

So, since then, even to this day, we open with ‘Hangar 18’, and now kind of almost in honor and memory of Vinnie. So we come out rocking, and it’s a great song. It’s nice because the front-of-house soundman can sort of getting our mix together, ’cause there are no vocals, so it kind of gives him a minute to mix the band.

Of course, we do soundcheck, and stuff is digitally stored on the console these days anyway, but still, it kind of gives him a couple of minutes to get the mix of the band together before Dave starts singing the verse.”

Click here for the source and you can watch the full interview below.