Sunday, August 22, 2010

American Carnage

Slayer w/ Megadeth and Testament @ Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI on August 19, 2010
Like the World Series of Thrash Metal (or the playoffs if the 'Big Four' Metallica/Slayer/Megadeth/Anthrax tour happens in 2011/2012 like they are saying), this is about as good as it gets for the genre. Three winners, no filler. I've seen all three bands countless times in the last 20 years, and I've got to say that the audience is now a 50/50 demographic. Oldsters my age who never gave up, and young 'uns who play video games. Way more females in the audience for these bands nowadays than 'back in the day' when these shows were essentially a dick farm. Not cool back when I was single guy.
Anyways, this posting is about the now, not my past concert experiences, so I will keep it focused on this show. This was only my third concert at Joe Louis, and I fail to see why they want to tear it down and build a new arena. There's nothing wrong with it. It's clean and well maintained and, most importantly, PAID FOR courtesy of us taxpayers, so leave it alone Illitch and company.
Testament came on five minutes earlier than the 7PM showtime to the pre-recorded intro For The Glory Of, which, like on their latest album, led right into More Than Meets The Eye.
It's nice to see 80 percent of the original line-up, as well as once and current (since 2007) Testament and former Slayer (1993-2001) drummer Paul Bostaph. I wonder how he felt about opening for his former bandmates? Next up was Dog Faced Gods off of the vastly underrated Low album.
Photo courtesy of John Shaw
The New Order and Trial By Fire kept the OG Thrash crowd happy, and The Persecuted Won't Forget seemed to bring the crowd to a standstill. I guess that most of the crowd was unaware that these guys still put out albums.
D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate) and 3 Days of Darkness off 1999's The Gathering seemed to go over well, but I have to question their choice of set closer. They played the title track of their latest album, The Formation of Damnation, but I can't help but think that Practice What You Preach or another classic like Into The Pit might have gone over better. 4 of the 8 songs were from the new album. I am not sure if that was optimal for this type of nostalgia tour, but it was still cool. Slayer cutting the band's use to their own backline was not cool, though. 
Photo courtesy of John Shaw.

Photo courtesy of John Shaw


Megadeth was on like 10-15 minutes after Testament's set was up. This was the sloppiest Megadeth performance since they opened for Judas Priest in 1990. Dave Mustaine's vocals were inaudible during set opener Holy Wars... The Punishment Due. He sang some lyrics here and there, but sounded off. His guitar playing was fine, though. It was great to see David Ellefson back in the band for the first time since 2002. Hangar 18, much like the opening song in this set, have been live staples since the release of Rust In Peace in 1990. 
This was the 20th Anniversary Tour for that album, so they played in its entirety in the albums running order. Take No Prisoners, which they brought back to the set in 2007, sounded great. Five Magics was a rarity. I can't recall if they did one live back in '90/91 or not, ditto Poison is the Cure. Lucretia was a welcome return. I think that the last time that was performed in Detroit was maybe 1997(?). Could have been '95, or '92... I don't know anymore. I have many setlists written down in an old spiral bound notebook but am too lazy to look. Tornado of Souls has been done often live because it is a great song. During Dawn Patrol, they pulled an Iron Maiden and had some guy come out in a Vic Rattlehead costume. It was great to hear Rust In Peace...Polaris live again.
Photo courtesy of John Shaw

It was nearly 45 minutes into the set that Dave Mustaine finally spoke to the crowd. That must be some kind of record. Trust, Headcrusher, the always-take-a-pit-stop-during-this-lame-o-tune A Tout Le Monde, followed by Symphony of Destruction. The Encore was Peace Sells with an outro of Holy Wars. I wish that they would bust out another song that they used to do back in the day: Their cover of the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the UK. That was it, they were done. Megadeth also did not get the full use of the PA.

SLAAAAAAAAYYYEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! When I saw the Clash of the Titans Tour in 1991, Slayer played third fiddle to Anthrax and Megadeth, coming on right after openers Alice In Chains. How sweet it must have been for them to headline over Megadeth. Their PA mix was loud and clear. 

The stage set had those Nazi eagles from the sleeve of 1990's Seasons in the Abyss hanging from the lighting. I had a shirt with that on it 20 years ago and sold it on eBay a while back for $66. They had anniversary edition of that same shirt, and I thought about it for a second, but I am no longer 17 years old. I am 37 and have kids and wouldn't wear a shirt with a Nazi eagle anywhere.
 They launched into World Painted Blood and Hate Worldwide off of the new album. Then they performed Seasons in the Abyss in its entirety: War Ensemble, Blood Red, Spirit In Black (haven't heard them do that one in YEARS), Expendable Youth (I don't think that I ever saw them do that one before live), Dead Skin Mask, Hallowed Point (ditto, and it absolutely killed live), Skeletons of Society (ditto; always loved that song and wondered why it hasn't been utilized live), Temptation, Born of Fire (I was shocked that I still remembered all of the lyrics after all of these years. It's not like I am as obsessed with Slayer as I was circa 1990, playing Seasons... everyday after school), and Seasons in the Abyss.
Photo courtesy of John Shaw
Then came the encore: South of Heaven, Raining Blood, Aggressive Perfector (!! Wow, this was a nice surprise. Never head this one done live before), and finally, Angel of Death.
Photo courtesy of John Shaw

Slayer owned the night, and I've got say that their legacy is intact. Megadeth has made several lackluster albums along the way, and Testament sort of imploded for nearly a decade, but Slayer has always been consistent.
This was, for all intents and purposes, my 'farewell tour' for these cats. Barring another bill of this caliber or a Big Four tour, I probably won't venture into this world again any time soon. I am getting too old for this shit.
\m/

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