Photo: Download Festival Sydney
After hitting Download in Sydney there was no way I was going to miss Slayer’s last show in NZ, even though I don’t actually know their music. I just knew it had to be done properly. While at Download my experience of both Slayer and Anthrax was brief while I was shooting but tonight was able to experience both their sets fully.
First I need to touch on what happened in Christchurch. Most of you would have heard what had happened by now. Even though it happened in Christchurch, it still put people everywhere on ease and in a weird headspace. I nearly didn’t make this show because of it. However, I decided to go. Security seemed increased at Eventfinda Stadium as you got searched before you could get to the box office and the doors. I think it was necessary, to be honest, and provided an extra bit of comfort.
Photo: Download Festival Sydney
I made my way into the venue as Anthrax were playing. There was something awesome about seeing these guys again so soon, especially since they hadn’t been to NZ for 23 years. After meeting up with friends I took in what was in front of me. A large Anthrax banner covered the back of the stage. All 4 guys had quite a stage presence and I found it interesting how Joey Belladonna walks around with part of a mic stand. In regards to movement and crowd involvement, I see the practicality and use of it but it also just seems somewhat weird. Scott Ian and Frank Bello provided some great backing vocals. The night was very much about heavy metal but it was LOUD. Though I usually wear earplugs which I didn’t have this time around so maybe that was the difference. I was a bit worried a lot of the vocals and music would get washed out but it didn’t. Anthrax did touch on what had happened in Christchurch briefly. I think it was good they acknowledged it. It sort of put people at ease a bit more and reminded them to have a good time. Though my experience with Anthrax was brief I really enjoyed it.
After a brief break that teased mic and instrument checks, the lights went down. A curtain blocked the stage and visuals were projected on to the curtain. After the final SLAYER name went across the curtain, it dropped and they got straight into it. Honestly, though the crowd wasn’t super large they were into it. People tend to underestimate crowds at metal gigs. It’s like people know what to expect so I could just walk through to where I wanted and if you wanted to mosh there was a particulars area in the middle for that. If someone seemed to be annoying people everyone sorted it out. It was cool. Though my favourite part of the crowd was seeing a young kid with their dad. The kid was head banging, throwing their hair around and even went up on the dad’s shoulders. It was awesome.
I couldn’t tell you all the songs that were played throughout the night as I don’t know them but I have to say it was one hell of a show. The crowd was passionate and sang along to both bands very loudly. That combined with Slayer’s light show and pyro was crazy. The pyro was intense the way it blew up in multiple parts of the stage and even lined the back behind the drummer, Paul Bostaph.
After they played an encore there was a moment where they all walked the stage chucking out guitar picks and drum sticks, thanking the crowd. There was something quite emotional seeing Tom Araya slowly acknowledge the whole crowd, even as the rest of the band departed. He took the mic to say thank you one last time and to remind the crowd to “go forward in life and love you brother” etc. Christchurch you’ve got the last night of this Australian/NZ tour. We all send you love and I know it is hard but I just suggest that you enjoy the night and send them home one last time.