SLAYER FINAL TOUR
w. Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth, Testament
Big Four BuildingMay 19th, 2018
Review by JP
Photos by Legion
When I first heard that Slayer was going to retire I was a bit surprised, they are not all that old and have not been active all that long, compared to some bands like Deep Purple or Scorpions…but then again Slayers music is quite a bit more intense so why not go out on top? Leave them wanting more. I’d seen Slayer many times over the years but once tickets went on sale I got caught up in the excitement and bought a ticket…despite the $100.00 tag! I paid about $20.00 to see Slayer back in 1990! The five-band bill was appealing so off we went.
The Big Four building is not the best venue in town, better after the renovations, but still suffers from logistic issues; a 45 minute wait to get in, virtually no food service, no water fountains, a 20-minute line up for the bathroom, and a 20 minute line-up for a beer. I timed it, actually 22 minutes for a beer! The policy of having to pour the beer into a plastic cup is stupid and wastes everyone’s time. The sound and lights and stage were all top notch, nice, clear sound and not painfully loud either. However, despite all those little inconveniences, it was a beautiful summer day, the spirits were high and people were prepared for the worst, as Metal fans tend to treated like under-privileged cattle, so we are used to it.
In my mind Testament should have been fourth on the bill, but I know the realities. They hit the stage right on time at 5:00pm and ripped through a seven song set, the usual mix of old and new…swapping out ‘Over The Wall’ for ‘Into The Pit’, little changes, but nothing remarkable in terms of rare songs, just the classics. Chuck Billy wailed away doing his best air-guitar and belting out the tunes. I bumped into Gene Hoglan after the show and he said only playing seven songs you don’t even work up a sweat!
Behemoth were by far the heaviest band on the bill, sort of the ‘black sheep’ (pun intended) and were relentless and crushing as always. I wasn’t expecting miracles as the band has moved on from their early Black Metal roots, and they evolved musically, but they didn’t play any old stuff, nothing from the first 20 years of their career. This was in sharp contrast to Anthrax who almost played only old stuff from 20+ years ago! Behemoth played the ‘hits’ from the last four albums and ‘Wolves Ov Siberia’ being a highlight for me. The crowd response was very good as many, maybe even most of the people were inside the venue by then, but you could tell it was an old-school thrash crowd. I might even say they were my favourite of the night, but that is a tough call to make!
Anthrax were probably the most ‘fun’ band on the bill, the most interactive, the most stage presence…with Belladonna getting people to song along, lots of good head-banging, sing-along, fun. A friend pointed out that two of the seven songs were cover tunes! I’m sure if you are an Anthrax fan you can guess which ones they were. The set was mostly old stuff but it was nice to hear ‘Evil Twin’. It was good to hear ‘N.F.L.’ I’ve seen the band a number of times but I don’t recall seeing them play that one before. It was good to see Charlie Benante back behind the kit, he didn’t make the last show in town.
Lamb Of God. I’m not a fan. I wish they weren’t on this tour, it would have been way better to have Megadeth, Overkill or Exodus. They had a nice simplistic stage show and set design and a minimalist light show, which worked well. Lots of people love ‘em but their brand of mallcore just isn’t my thing. So it was time for the 20-minute beer line-up and 20-minute bathroom line-up.
Despite having seen Slayer many times previously and now having been on my feet in the line-up and general admission for over six hours I still got that little shiver of excitement as the rear projectors shone the big, white crosses on the drop-curtain and as the intro music slowly played, the crosses slowly turned upside down. Evil! It reminded me of the Christian Black Metal band Horde who have a song called ‘Invert the Inverted Cross’!
I was going to get to see Slayer one last time. The curtain dropped, they opened with ‘Repentless’ and never looked back. They raced through all of the ‘hits’ and Tom sounded good. My friend pointed out it is early enough in the tour that he hasn’t blown his voice out yet…it was only the sixth date on the tour. This is the perfect time to see a tour, they are still fresh, they have worked the bugs out of the stage show, they aren’t burned out yet, it was a great performance. Some folks say that it is not Slayer without Lombardo or Hanneman but I don’t agree, Holt and Bostaph effortlessly killed it.
There was very little banter or communication, I thought they might even say some sort of goodbye or thank the fans for all the years, but in retrospect, that is not their style. They just blew everyone away, ended with the one song everyone wanted to hear, (you can easily guess what it was) the lights went up, they waved and walked off stage. The end of an era.
If I had to summarize my entire concert experience, it would one of contentment and happy familiarity. I have now seen Testament eleven times, Slayer seven times, Anthrax six times, (I just saw Anthrax 10 weeks ago!) Behemoth five times and Lamb of God twice, so there were really no surprises in terms of set-list, stage performance or execution for me. I’m glad I went to see the old wardogs in action one last time. Like Tom Araya said from the stage at the end of the 19-song set, …it’s bitter sweet. I’m glad I went.