Seven months earlier, the band’s second LP, Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?, was released. Megadeth’s first major label album, it was an undoubted step up from their debut, 1985’s frenetic Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!. The latter was a distinctly lo-fi affair released on New York-based indie label Combat Records, let down by the production (or lack of it) and the fact that Dave had reportedly spent a chunk of the album’s advance on alcohol and drugs rather than studio time.
Starving and at times homeless, Dave's self-destructive behaviour continued unchecked during the recording of Peace Sells… – an album that Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson would later describe as being recorded on a diet of “heroin, burgers and cigarettes”. The volatility within the band would be further confirmed at their own album launch party, hosted by their label in Hollywood in September ’86, that ended with Dave kicking guitarist Chris Poland in the face in the back of a limo while travelling home.
Despite the circumstances in which it was made, Peace Sells… was a more polished affair, the material more cohesive. The music was more intense with lead runs that sounded more feral than ever, while Dave's lyrical inspiration ran from the personal through to the political and on to the occult. To thrash metal fans, it was viewed as Megadeth’s first genuine defining statement – its title-track hailed as an instant classic.
For all the promise demonstrated on the album, however, Megadeth remained an inconsistent live act. Their Paris debut would underline as much, although once again circumstances seemed to conspire against Dave.
The gig itself had initially been due to take place at celebrated Parisian rock venue, La Locomotive. Following a licensing dispute, however, it was moved the New Morning, a 500-capacity jazz club with a tiny stage on to which Megadeth were just about able to cram their gear. Support act Flotsam & Jetsam – whose ex-bass player Jason Newsted had ironically joined Metallica following Cliff Burton’s death in September ’86 - weren’t quite as lucky and weren’t even able to play.
With portraits of the jazz greats that had previously graced the New Morning stage looking down on them, Megadeth kicked off their set with Wake Up Dead – the rapid-fire opener on Peace Sells... During the course of that one song, it was obvious that the band were almost too loud for the club’s rarified confines. Battling through sound problems and space restrictions, Dave grimaced his way through a 12-song set which nevertheless appealed to the band’s puritanical fans.