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Slayer Raises Hellfire And Brimstone One Last Time In Spokane

Slayer / Primus / Ministry / Phil Anselmo And The Illegals – Spokane Arena – November 24, 2019

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Slayer Spokane

Slayer – Spokane Arena – Spokane, WA – November 24, 2019

“You need to get your life together my friend, what the fuck is wrong with you?! You missed the entire Slayer set!” It’s not often I encounter a 20-something year old kid, who’s stone cold sober, lecturing a 40-something that was passed out drunk in his seat, sitting in his own filth and vomit, snoozing his way throughout the ENTIRE Slayer set. Incredible. Rock and metal shows are hard to come by around these parts, it brings out fans that are starved for rock and metal, but it also brings out the amateurs, like the EMT (yeah he was a first responder) that slept through ‘The Last Campaign’ performance at Spokane Arena in a drunken stupor. I haven’t seen so much alcohol and cannabis consumed at a show since my high school daze.

Phil Anselmo And The Illegals opened the show at 6:00 PM sharp, Phil and Co. performed a 30 minute set of Pantera classics and deep cuts. Since the passing of Vinnie Paul in 2018 and Dimebag Darrel who preceded him, he’s the gatekeeper of the Pantera catalog. While it was good to hear the Pantera tunes, The Illegals can’t replicate properly the catalog, not because they’re not capable, but because they don’t have the chemistry that Pantera had. Phil Anselmo stood in place the entire set, part of what made a Pantera show was the physicality of the performance, he can’t do that anymore because of the chronic back pain issues. In short, it was a good attempt, but overall it just didn’t work. I’m anxiously awaiting Down to reconvene for a 2020 run of North American dates.

‘Industrial-sized bigmouth’ Al Jourgensen was in the building performing a ‘Lalapalooza’ set which he’s been doing on ‘The Final Campaign.’ I for one, was curious if he’d be able to bite his lip and not ‘pop off’ about 45. It probably would have incited a riot in Northern Washington with representation from Idaho, Montana and Utah in the building. Jourgensen performed a set which included classics, “The Missing,” “Deity,” “Stigmata,” “Just One Fix,” “Thieves,” toward the tail end of the set, Al mumbled something about ‘November 8th, 2016’ while introducing “N.W.O.,” it went virtually unnoticed. Also included in the set was the unnecessary cover of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut” and the highly overrated “Jesus Built My Hotrod” which Al stated “was something for you rednecks!” I would have much rather heard something like “Burning Inside” than that. I question how much of the show was ‘live,’ as a longtime Ministry disciple, the excessive use of the fog machine, in this case the entire set, has always been a ‘smoke and mirrors’ move in my experience. Sure, Ministry have always used pre-recorded supplementation and intros and enhancements, but this was different. I could be wrong.

I’ve caught the past couple of Primus tours after a few years off from the band, Primus have taken over the crown of ‘power trio kings’ with Rush having officially retired. As previously mentioned, I’ve caught the past couple tours as headliners, this support slot was all killer and no filler. Much like the Ministry set, you could make the argument that this too was a ‘hits’ or ‘Lalapalooza’ set with fan favorites like, “Groundhog’s Day,” Too Many Puppies,” “Toys Go Winding Down,” “Pudding Time,” “American Life,” “Eleven,” Rush cover “Cignus X-1,” and “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver,” amongst others. Primus maximized their allotted time and crammed as much as they could into their set and didn’t get an encore on this night, “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” was sorely missed. The highlights of the set, “American Life,” “My Name Is Mud,” “Mr. Krinkle” and “Johnny The Cat.” This set in my opinion, beat out their past couple headlining sets. Kudos Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander — you destroyed the audience.

Slayer have always done great business in the Northwest. I last caught a show in Ridgefield, WA in the summer of 2018, minutes from Portland, Oregon. This show was in Spokane, WA, which was a trek, but it’s Slayer’s final Northwest appearance. Washington, Idaho, Utah and Montana plates filled the parking lot. A band like Motley Crue, Slayer’s rivals back in the day, ended their career using backtracks, overusing gimmicks and their stay was about a decade too long (now they’re back? Ugh!); Slayer (who were founded around the same time) remained a consistently good live act and it was all ‘real.’ Sure Slayer is ending, which is sad, but it makes sense; Dave Lombardo is out of the band, Jeff Hanneman passed, Araya has acknowledged that years of the touring grind has taken its toll physically on him and while Gary Holt has answered the call much like Paul Bostaph did when he was recruited, it’s not the same.

Slayer’s core is bassist/vocalist Tom Araya and guitarist Kerry King, who have continued to be a force to be reckoned with in Jeff Hanneman’s absence. They still give the fans the best show possible and perform at a high level. For this last appearance Slayer gave us a couple new tracks in the set, opening with “Repentless” from their latest (and likely their last) record Repentless, also including the standout “When The Stillness Comes.” Slayer sprinkled deeper catalog tracks ”Hell Awaits,” “Chemical Warfare,” “Payback” and “Show No Mercy.” Of course staples like “War Ensemble,” “Seasons In The Abyss,” “Raining Blood,” “Dead Skin Mask,” “Postmortem,” “South Of Heaven” and “Angel Of Death” were all prominently featured. I’ve been enjoying Slayer shows for the past 32 years; this show was just as intense as the first. ‘The Final Campaign’ is the most visual tour to date and a real ‘incendiary’ one too. While it’s sad to see Slayer go, they’re going out before they break down and the wear and tear becomes painfully evident. “Thank you for coming tonight, drive home safe. I’ll miss you,” proclaimed Araya after his band and tour mates cleared the stage, upon shooting a group photo. It was a heartfelt, emotional farewell from the man that closed the show with “Angel Of Death.” He pumped his chest a couple of times, put the palms of his hands together and took a quick bow and disappeared stage left. There’s talk of Slayer continuing to record new music, which perhaps keeps the door open for festival appearances in North America and abroad. Is this really ‘it?!’ I would guess not completely.


photos by Mike Lewis Photography

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