Jagermeister Tour featuring Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer
War Memorial Coliseum – Fort Wayne, Indiana October 20th, 2010
It’s summer of 1990, a glorious time for metal heads in America. Heavy metal has reached the height of popularity. It seems not a week goes by without some metal band performing in or around your town, no matter how rural your particular town is. MTV has a new show devoted to metal called Headbangers Ball, metal magazines adorn every news stand, and the grunge movement (heralded by Nirvana’s album Nevermind) is two years away from knocking heavy metal off of its pedestal. Yes….it’s a great time to be a metal head.
Spearheading the concert tour season of 1990 is a metal extravaganza called ‘Clash of the Titans’ featuring three of the most popular thrash metal bands of the day: Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer (with a then-little-known band called Alice In Chains as the opener). The Clash of the Titans show, mainly held in outdoor arenas, was barely-controlled mayhem. Spontaneous mosh pits were commonplace, bonfires were started, grass and sod flew through the air. It was the best of the best in metal land….and the audiences flocked to witness.
Flash forward twenty years. Metal isn’t quite the be-all, end-all it once was, but the three bands that headlined the original Clash of the Titans are still touring and releasing albums, although with a loss of an original band member here and there. Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer each still have their die-hard fans from the old days, and perhaps it was these people they hoped to cater to when the bands toured together once again on the ‘Jagermeister Tour’ of 2010. Alcoholic beverage advertising overkill aside, the Jagermeister Tour was a chance for the diehard fans to once again see three of the most popular thrash bands of all time on the same stage…but with a twist. This time, two of the bands would be playing an entire album from their catalog: Megadeth playing ‘Rust In Peace’ in its entirety and Slayer playing ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ from start to finish. Would these guys still have what it takes? Can they still command crowds like they did in their heyday? Will they be taken seriously or seen as a ‘nostalgia act’? Read on, O metal minions….
The Jagermeister Tour at the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana started out as being…well….pretty underwhelming. I and my fellow metal heads arrived 20 minutes early to avoid the crowds, but the question we had upon arriving was, “Where the hell IS everybody?” It was literally the easiest time I’ve ever had getting into a concert hall ever. But…brushing the apparent lack of public interest in the show aside, I took my place on the floor and waited for the opening act Anthrax to take the stage. As a warm-up act, Jim Florentine (who is touring as the official MC apparently) of That Metal Show took the stage. Now, I’m a big admirer of That Metal Show, but Florentine’s act didn’t impress me at all. I wasn’t sure if he was honing his comedy act to fit what he perceived as “Fort Wayne-ian” humor or what, but the crux of his act was saying “Obama hates white people”, leading a chant of “F**k Obama”, and then going on to tell a few ‘fat jokes’. If I wanted to hear laugh-a-minute comedy, I’d tune in to the local talk radio channel.
Despite the lame comedy, Florentine did get the crowd riled up for when Anthrax finally hit the stage. This tour is special for Anthrax in that it sees the return of original vocalist Joey Belladonna. He may not be the most aggressive singer in metal….but the man can still SING! He was also very adept at working the crowd and getting them into the show. Belladonna was singing his heart out like it was 1990, and at the same time moshing around the stage for ‘Caught in a Mosh’, doing a war dance (complete with Indian headdress) during the Anthrax classic, ‘Indians’, and even belting out a tune from their first album called ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’. Guitarists Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano were in fine form as were Frank Bello on bass and Charlie Benante on drums. Except for Rob Caggiano, who replaced Dan Spitz back in 2001, this was the Anthrax I grew up on. This was the classic Anthrax. And after ending their 45 minute set with ‘I Am the Law’, I looked around and…you know what? There were a lot more people there than I thought. The place was still 1/3 empty, but the people there were enjoying every minute. It still wasn’t as intense an experience as back in 1990, but the show was just warming up.
After another unfunny interlude with Jim Florentine, it was time for Megadeth to come on. Dave Mustaine and co. really know how to make an entrance, let me tell you. The fog machines were set to ‘high’, the guitar riff from the classic Sabbath song, ‘Black Sabbath’ was put on repeat, and an intense Jello Biafra rant about martial law screamed through the speakers. You’d have to see it, but it was a great way to build an intro! Then the guys took the stage starting out with ‘Holy Wars…the Punishment Due’, and working their way through the entire Rust In Peace album (their best, in this reviewer’s opinion). Mustaine’s voice seemed a tad weak that night, but you don’t listen to Megadeth for the beautiful vocals….it’s the guitars, man! The twin guitar attack of Mustaine and newcomer Chris Broderick didn’t fail to impress. They absolutely ripped. One of the highlights for me was the appearance of ol’ Vic Rattlehead on stage during the Dave Ellefson showcase, ‘Dawn Patrol’. Kinda cheesy…but I couldn’t help but smile and pump my fist in the air anyway.
As soon as the last note of the last song on ‘Rust In Peace’ was played, Mustaine announced, “…and that was ‘Rust In Peace’!”…then proceeded to play some of their more recent and radio-friendly tunes like ‘Trust’ and ‘Headcrusher’. Maybe a little bit of an anti-climax, but when they closed their set with “Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying?”….the heads were banging again. It was the perfect song to close out the set. Mustaine and the guys seemed genuinely thankful for the good crowd reaction, thanking the crowd several times with huge smiles on their faces. Good show!
Now, if there was ever a band with a rabid fan base, it would be Slayer. They’re unrelentingly heavy and brutal…and their fans love them for it. By the time Slayer was onstage, people were packed on the floor and attentively standing in the seats. This was Slayer…time to freaking pay attention! The band was obscured at first by a curtain at the front of the stage with lighting effects depicting pentagrams while the first slow notes of ‘World Painted Blood’ permeated the air. Then…BOOM! The curtain falls and Slayer started thrashing. The lineup was the original and classic Slayer lineup, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman on guitar, Dave Lombardo on drums (one of the best drummers in the business if you ask me!), and Tom Araya on bass and vocal duties. Araya has had recent back surgery due to his years of intense head banging, so he wasn’t very active, but he’s still got enough presence and vocal stamina to carry the show through. Despite this minor little difference, the band still thrashed as hard as they ever did, tearing through the entire ‘Season in the Abyss’ album…then playing a few of their classic fan faves like ‘South of Heaven’, Guitar Hero track ‘Raining Blood’, ‘Aggressive Perfector’ (off of their debut album!), and closing their set with their signature tune, ‘Angel of Death’. Mosh pits, crowd surfing, head banging….it was ALL going on when Slayer hit the stage! I’ve seen Slayer in concert quite a few times, and I’m happy to say that it was in no way a ‘nostalgia act’. They’re a little older, they’ve had their ups and downs…their surgeries. Yet that night at the Coliseum in Fort Wayne may as well have been 1990. If I have one little bitch, it’s something the bands had no control over at all. There were actually signs posted in the venue saying, “No Moshing”…and people were being forcibly evicted for doing it. I understand safety rules, liability, yadda yadda. But c’mon. This is Anthrax, Megadeth, and freaking SLAYER we’re talking about. If you’re going to be hardass about some metal heads trying to have a good time, then maybe the Coliseum isn’t the place for these bands, as much as it pains me to say it. Nobody ever got evicted from a venue for moshing back when I was of “moshing age” and it’s ridiculous to do it now. Other than that little gripe……it was 1990 all over again. Metal still rules!
Anthrax set list:
Caught In a Mosh
Metal Thrashing Mad
I Am the Law
Megadeth set list:
Holy Wars…the Punishment Due
Take No Prisoners
Poison Was the Cure
Tornado of Souls
Rust In Peace…Polaris
How the Story Ends
Symphony of Destruction
Slayer set list:
World Painted Blood
Spirit In Black
Dead Skin Mask
Skeletons of Society
Born of Fire
Seasons In the Abyss
South of Heaven
Angel of Death
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.