My photo pass did not allow me to shoot Megadeth, which is okay by me, considering the fact the last time I saw Megadeth was the Gigantour a few years ago and I have photographic proof of Megadeth main man Dave Mustaine flipping me off. I know it was nothing personal—it’s actually something to laugh about. Despite the controversy throughout the years I do have respect for the man for not only creating some massively enjoyable tunes but at the Gigantour which Megadeth was the featured headliner someone tossed a beer on some of the bands sound equipment and instead of having a rockstar temper tantrum the and storming off stage they fixed the problem and Megadeth went on. For this Jagermeister Music tour Megadeth was all smiles and thrashing, they started their set playing their 1990 Rust in Peace album, one which is near and dear to my heart, easily one of my favorite Megadeth albums. I knew this was going to happen prior to the show and I purposely avoided listening to the album prior to the show which I hadn’t listened to in years, for the sole purpose of being reminded of it’s awesomeness. The album had the band hammering each track after the other seeing Mustaine doing some mad guitar soloing along with fellow guitarist Chris Broderick (of Nevermore and Jag Panzer previously) who joined the band in 2008, sharing some of the crazed soloing not only a highlight of the Rust in Peace album but just plain fun to see done live. After the band finished playing Rust in Peace in it’s entirety, out of all the Megadeth song choices played “Trust,” a popular tune from 1997 album Cryptic Writings, and a favorite of my wife’s, I’m sure they played it just for her or at least I’d like to think so. The band then rolled through two songs “Head Crusher,” and “How the Story Ends,” from their latest album, released last year Endgame. That led to a definite fan favorite tune “Symphony of Destruction,” which had me and my wife singing along with each other. Megadeth closed out set with their still lyrically relevant “Peace Sells…”
And then there is Slayer, a band whose albums still manage to make it into my musical rotations despite all of the music I review. I still don’t know if it’s a bad or a good thing to say that once you’ve seen Slayer play live you know what to expect, not exactly in regards to the set list but as to what the band does live. Tom Araya is limited into what he can really do because he plays bass while singing, guitarist Jeff Hanneman (who is one serious master of the thrash metal riff) pretty much plays statue with his hair in his face, and Kerry King is probably one of the more animated of the three members that can roam the stage. After taking pictures of Slayer, I had a birds eye view and my eyes wound up focusing most of the time on drummer Dave Lombardo and his always impressive skills. Unlike Megadeth, Slayer got their new tunage from last year’s World Painted Blood album off right out of the gates playing “World Painted Blood,” and “Hate Worldwide,” before the oh so ass-kicking “War Ensemble,” which I got to remain in the photo pit and had a hard time focusing on photographing instead of just full on headbaning to the song, which also marked the beginning of the band playing their entire 1990 Season in the Abyss album. It was just plain badass, with some definite favorite tunes which includes the highly popular “Dead Skin Mask,” but also some lesser known but sweet Slayer cuts like “Skeletons of Society,” and “Expendable Youth,” and the awesomely trademark Slayer speed on “Spirit in Black,” and “Hallowed Point.” The pit was huge and teeming with Slayer fans that came to get their mosh on, the more foreboding and bit slower album closer and title track “Season in the Abyss,” was appropriately followed by the similar but just all together awesome in it’s own way “South of Heaven.” As fully expected not only the venue’s floor but seated fans exploded as Slayer played those oh so familiar opening notes of “Raining Blood,” followed by the much older but still damned awesome “Aggressive Perfector” with “Angel of Death” ending the evening of metal.
Where there was definitely the ability to have a large scale crazy stage show the three bands opted to let the music do the talking. It was much like it would have been seeing these artists perform in the 80s or 90s, with plenty of lighting flashes and changes with the obligatory stage fog. Each band had their own backdrop, Anthrax and Megadeth had political and war themed artistic backdrops. Slayer’s backdrop was about as simple as it gets with two Slayer sword type logos on either side of the stage which left room for some light play in the blank black of the rest of the back, which did see some crosses go from normal to inverted during “South of Heaven,” The concert was exactly as I expected it to be, a showcase of the songs and less about the bands themselves, which for a larger type concert is a nice change of pace from bands trying to outdo others with pyrotechnics, video screens or whatever else they can think of. The whole night was really just like jumping into a time capsule back to 1990, a good majority of the fans were still long haired thrasher looking and a good portion probably had seen both bands in the 90s if not earlier, but there was also the younger generations about, the music may be slightly negative but the concert atmosphere was full on positive. Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax may seem a bit washed up or riding on the heels of past glories, but really I can’t think of any newer thrash bands that have topped what any of the bands have done in the past, that’s really nothing that can be taken away from them and easily manages to take me to some of my metal happy places.