Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax
September 24, 2010
Better than: getting sick from fried Oreos at the State Fair.
Usually, it's a proving ground when a band plays before Slayer. And, if you're worthy of sharing the stage with the legendary thrash act, you're on good terms with the ardent fans.
Thankfully, Anthrax and Megadeth didn't have to prove anything on Friday night; they were more co-headlining acts instead of opening acts on this bill.
As a matter of fact, this was a reunion of these thrash metal giants, who first shared a bill when they started the American leg of the Clash of the Titans tour back in 1991. That tour, it should be noted, like this one, launched in Dallas, at this same venue. Back then, of course, it was called Starplex.
But, other than that, little has changed.
Anthrax, back with frontman Joey Belladonna for the third time, began the night shortly before 7 p.m.
Blame State Fair traffic--or traffic in general--as to why the venue was barely a quarter full as the band laid into "Caught in a Mosh." Regardless, Right away, it was obvious that Belladonna still had the pipes that soared over the band's heralded '80s records, such as Among the Living and Persistence of Time. Drummer Charlie Benante hammered away at his kit as bassist Frank Bello and guitarist Scott Ian sported crystal clear backing vocals.
But numerous microphone feedback issues forced Ian to run off stage during the first couple of songs--he even knocked his mic down out of frustration.
Eventually, though, the sound problems ceased and the band unleashed a lot of crowd favorites. Reaching as far back as their debut album, Fistful of Metal, for "Metal Thrashing Mad," the majority of the set was from Belladonna's first era with the band.
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With songs like "Got the Time," "Madhouse" and "Indians," it looked like the catalog was definitely not going to hit up any of the band's material with Jon Bush as their frontman. Surprisingly, though, the sixth song Anthrax played was none other than "Only" from Sound of White Noise. And Belladonna did a very admirable job of singing as strong as Bush did.
By the time the band finished with "I Am The Law," the old Starplex had a few more attendees in the audience. Still, saying the venue was half-full was generous. And there were plenty of guys wearing their favorite Slayer, Megadeth, or even Iron Maiden shirts, all patiently awaiting Slayer. Only the center of the lawn had a number of people in the venue's rear, while many seats towards the back of the seated section were empty.
No matter: The pit was crammed.
And, tiding those fans over was Jim Florentine, from VH1 Classic's That Metal Show, who emceed the night between all three bands. His humor was hit-and-miss, and it got to a point where shouts for Megadeth overpowered any of his material. Smartly, he shut his mouth and slowly left the stage.
Megadeth took stage five minutes after 8 and went right into their--as advertised--performance of Rust in Peace. Other than a "Good evening" from frontman Dave Mustaine, the band went through the record almost nonstop. As a singer, Mustaine came across very detached with his red locks draped over him. Had not bassist Dave Ellefson and drummer Shawn Drover encouraged the audience to chant and clap along, this portion of the set could have been really boring.
What also saved the set was lead guitarist Chris Broderick: No solo was beneath him or above his playing style. He played everything like he had been playing with the band for many years.
As the band finished "Rust in Peace . . . Polaris," Mustaine simply said, "Thank you. That was Rust in Peace." And after leaving the crowd thinking this was it for Megadeth, the band surprised and quickly came back out--and that's when things really opened up.
With songs like "Trust," "Headcrusher," "A Tout Le Monde" and "Symphony of Destruction," Mustaine was very talkative and friendly to the audience. Capping off the set with "Peace Sells" and a reprise of "Holy Wars," people were satisfied, but also quite ready for Slayer at the same time.
Slayer took stage at 9:45 and didn't leave until a few minutes before 11. Instead of starting of with "War Ensemble" and playing Seasons in the Abyss in its entirety, the band unloaded the title track from the latest record, World Painted Blood. "War Ensemble" and the rest of Seasons in the Abyss came after one more song. At 10 songs, the band not only played one of their beloved records, but also showcased what the band has always been about. Moving from speedy hardcore with fire-alarm guitar solos to creeping thumps, the choice of doing that record proved was a wise one--especially in light of the band's performance of Reign in Blood while on tour last year.
And, performance-wise, the band was as good as they've always been, as they were lit by red lights with smoke. Dave Lombardo still makes blast beats look like basic paradiddles. Guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King never let up on their lightning-fast fingers, and bassist Tom Araya showcased his banshee wailing to full effect. And there was very little deviation from how the album sounded; there was no gong struck during the opening minutes of "Seasons in the Abyss" and Araya let the audience say the disturbing spoken-word plea to Mr. Ed Gein in "Dead Skin Mask," but, otherwise, it was on point.
And, after the album was done, the band blitzed through "South of Heaven," "Raining Blood" and "Angel of Death." The audience wanted more, sure, but once the house lights came on and roadies started packing up, the audience slowly trickled out.
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Personal Bias: Standing next to me throughout the show were fellow traffic reporters, Monty Cook from WBAP and Michael Scott from KSCS. I think they were more into the show than I was, and I was into the show.
Random Quote: "That's a grumpy Gandalf right there," said a man behind me as a he saw an older man with gray hair and a beard.
By The Way: Even though the show was over, people still chanted "Slayyyyerrrr!" as they deployed for the parking lot. That's dedication.