SLAYER w/ Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament, Napalm Death @ the SAP Center in San Jose, CA
August 26th brought the final show of Slayer’s North American “Farewell” tour to the SAP Center in downtown San Jose, California, and along with it some mixed emotions from this Slayer lover. Having seen the Thrash Metal giants well over 20 times in my life maybe I should be ok with their decision to hang it up and go out on top, but shit, who am I kidding; I wish they’d play for another 20 years because you can never have enough Slayer in your life.
On this day I decided to step outside my normal concert routine and show up casually late for this big event. With such a stacked line up you’d think it would have been a priority to get there early and support all the bands. Truth be known I’m not real big on Napalm Death or Testament, both fine well respected bands that never resonated with me. So that early slot time was spent down the street at Britannia Arms eating a Shepherd’s Pie and drinking draft beer with a few shots on the side. ($10 for a pint and a shot – solid deal!)
Walking up to the beautiful SAP Center, all the makings for a great day were evident. Thousands of people in their favorite metal shirts filling the streets, street vendors with their bacon-wrapped-hot-dog carts set up along the sidewalks as well as the all too familiar “Jesus freaks” out front with their megaphones and signs. Always nice to be reminded that if you don’t turn your life over to an invisible man in the sky you will suffer greatly for it in the afterlife. (Hey screaming megaphone guy, two words for you: “FUCK OFF”)
Inside the SAP Center the place was electric; constant screams of Slayer were steady and powerful. Multiple generations of metal fans, families with small children, grandparents, and all shapes, sizes and colors were in attendance. It was not at all surprising to see members of Death Angel and Exodus among the concert goers walking around taking pictures and shaking hands; this is the Bay Area, home of Thrash Metal.
Merchandise booths were packed full with a fantastic selection of t-shirts (I bought two myself). There were also a good number of booths set up which really helped with cutting down the long lines we have all grown accustomed to standing in over the years. Well done, marketing people.
After grabbing another adult beverage or two we made our way to the seats and caught the last few songs from Testament, which were “Into the Pit” and “Over the Wall”. All fine and dandy but what we came to see was quickly approaching.
Anthrax was up next; they came out and opened with a Pantera “Cowboys from Hell” riff which led straight into “Caught in a Mosh”. Paying respect to Dime and Vinnie was a really nice way to start their set.
Being a lifelong fan of the band it was odd seeing them with such a short set but definitely understandable knowing who was to follow. With the time given they seem to have hit on their bigger hits, rolling out tunes like “Indians”, “Antisocial”, and “Madhouse”. The only negative thing about their set besides it being too short was Joey Belladonna’s voice – it was fried. Being the last show of this very busy tour it’s easy to see how this could happen. With such a recognizable tone to his trademark singing style the highs weren’t so high for Joey that night, but his passion and energy was there as always.
LAMB OF GOD
Lamb of God from “Richmond Mother Fucking Virginia” took the stage next and did not disappoint. I have seen this band a number of times and for my money they are one of the best live bands out there. Loud, clean and tight, you can’t ask for a whole lot more than that. Randy Blythe once again was quite the showman, running and jumping around the stage like a kid, getting the crowd worked up for some “sing-a-longs” and demanding more from the mosh pit than any band that night. My honorable mention goes out to Art Cruz (Wings of Plague, Prong) for holding down the drums in place of Chris Adler who has taken this tour off. Art did a great job and the band did not skip a beat. Lamb of God put on an amazing powerful performance and if you’ve never seen them, you should, because you’re missing out!
And now boys and girls, the main attraction: The Mighty Slayer. Thirty-seven years after the inception of the band here they are still doing what they do, packing arenas, melting faces and performing some of the greatest Metal the world has ever known… or will ever know.
Opening with “Repentless” was not too surprising seeing how that is also the title track from their last release in 2015 (yes, it’s been three years already) but what came next was a little unexpected, “Blood Red” from the Seasons in the Abyss album. Talk about tugging at the black heart strings, it was fucking epic! From there it only got better with such classic jams like “Disciple”, “Black Magic”, “Postmortem” , and of course “Chemical Warfare” and “Angel of Death”.
Now I may be biased because of growing up in the Bay Area, but my shining star award goes to The Riff Master himself, Mr. Gary Holt; good grief that dude can jam. Not taking anything away from the rest of the guys in the band but Holt laid down some incredible solos when it was his time to shine and made the rest look effortless. I also cannot over look the fact the man headbangs like he’s 20 years old still.
Familiar, soothing, evil and glorious
Now to be fair, it wasn’t a perfect show by any stretch of the imagination: a few bad notes here and there, Tom may… or may not have screwed up a lyric or two here or there, but what the hell, when you have busted your ass your entire life to achieve what this band has, you get a pass in my book. The set was 19 songs deep spanning their entire career and was something special for all in attendance. Familiar, soothing, evil and glorious is the best way I can sum up Slayer’s set that night.
If this is truly Slayer’s last go around I’m happy I got to see this tour twice (L.A. and San Jose), but they have already confirmed more “farewell” dates are coming in 2019. Adding to that word around the water cooler is that they are already working on, or have worked on, new material for another album. Keep in mind kids how many “farewell“ tours Ozzy, KISS, or Scorpions have had. I try not to believe the hype myself and will keep an open mind. With millions of fans, a possible new record in the works, and millions of dollars to be made, this lifelong fan thinks we will all get to see them again, on stage destroying crowds for years to come, at least that is what I am selfishly hoping for.
Anthrax “Cowboys From Hell” intro + “Caught In A Mosh” – SAP Center San Jose 08/26/18
Lamb of God “Redneck” Live – SAP Center San Jose 08/26/18
Slayer “Reign in Blood” Live at SAP Center San Jose 08/26/18
Slayer “Hell Awaits” Live at SAP Center San Jose 08/26/18
Slayer “Angel of Death” Live at SAP Center San Jose 08/26/18