Alexandra Palace Friday 23rd May 2012 ~ headlining ATP Festival, and performing Reign in Blood in it's entirety
It's actually twenty six years since Reign in Blood was unleashed as an import-only release in the UK on an audience already embracing Ride the Lightning and Spreading the Disease. The content was deemed too severe for the UK label to initially release it, and with it's fine artwork it became one of my first import vinyl purchases. Volume Records in Durham, I salute you. 26 years later, it's the album that shaped thrash, spawning a million wannabees, and as Carlsberg would say, it's probably he best thrash album in the world, ever.
The UK shows on the Reign in Pain tour back in '87 were a landmark. Six shows in six nights, culminating at Hammersmith Odeon. They soundchecked for us with Judas Priest covers on those warm April afternoons; a leap away from the likes of Angel of Death that would follow a few hours later. Our car broke down after four shows so the roadies gave us a lift to the last two concerts. Forty eight hours of sleeping on piles of merchandise followed, living on greasy scumburgers and filling cardboard boxes with £20 notes in the capital, flogging T-shirts for the band before and after the shows. Imagine it, in 1987 Slayer paid ME money to attend those last couple of gigs.
|25 years of . . . . REIGN IN BLOOD|
Fast forward then to the twenty-first century, and they still have that magical attraction. Like a bottle of fine wine, Slayer age well, and you know exactly what you're gonna get. I've seen them play RIB in it's entirety a few times before, at the London Astoria in 2003 two nights running, and later at Hammy O in 2008. It was truly a sight to behold and over in a blur, but Slayer at a gaping cow-shed of a festival is a rather different proposition from a small sweaty grubby theatre. It was a strange festival to headline; the only other band of note appearing on Friday were The Melvins, with the remaining bill made up of Sleep, Wolves from the Throne Room, Yob, and A Storm of Light. It's wasn't sold out (a steep £50 inc. booking fees for a day ticket explains why), but nevertheless ATP told me they had around 7,500 people attending on the Friday. Scarlet Mist ticket site came up trumps and after a few emails and texts, a lovely lady made my day with a reasonably priced ticket.
And so to Slayer live in MMXII . . . . no Jeff Hanneman as he's still not fully recovered from his spider bite, and Gary Holt continued to deputise. At 9.45pm sharp Slayer hit the high and wide festival stage with a thunderous World Painted Blood, Araya his usual calm and collected self. You wouldn't know it was Slayer's first show for six months; musically they were as tight as ever with the exception of a Reborn rehash, and we were blessed with perfect festival sound. As always, a sea of bodies swirled overhead and underfoot as moshpits came and went like little twisters in hurricane season. They tore into Die by the Sword, then straight into the mindless chaos that was Chemical Warfare. The pot was coming to the boil.
Gary Holt was filling in admirably, King his beautiful ugly self shredding every song, while Lombardo was a fireball of frenetic pounding energy.
Dead Skin Mask gave us all a little breather and then it was time for the main feast . . . . . . Reign in Blood in it's entirety. In the past when I've seen them play the album, Slayer ripped into one song straight after the next, completing the spectacle in what seemed like fifteen minutes. Tonight it was more controlled aggression, short breaks between each masterpiece. It was served up in massive hammer blows, each one becoming gradually more ferocious than the last, until it all came sharply into focus as Lombardo delivered his massive crunching heartbeats and Raining Blood poured from the smoke filled stage. The dense red deathly fog enveloped everyone near the front, and cue mayhem & total chaos. Bodies everywhere, they scorched through it at 78rpm, with security struggling to cope with the tides of sweaty surfing corpses that descended towards the stage.
We were rewarded with three encores, and gracious thanks for our attendance as always, and that was it. Slayer's only UK show this year had been and gone in 75 minutes.
As mentioned earlier, you know what you're gonna get at a Slayer show. Yet again they delivered in clinical style. Age creeps up on us all, but these guys are still holding back the sands of time and have lost none of the aggression, power, speed, and intensity that make their shows an essential fix. Slayer yet again leave you happily battered into submission when it's all over. Truly marvellous entertainment.
World Painted Blood
Die by the Sword
Dead Skin Mask
Angel of Death
Piece by Piece
Altar of Sacrifice
Reborn (x 2, 1st version messed up)
South of Heaven
|The impressive Reign in Blood canvas montage on display in the foyer|