SLAYER was nearing the end of the Final Campaign as they played their last Las Vegas show at the MGM Grand Arena, a farewell tour for the band of 35 plus years, and it was an emotional, though explosive, night. Throughout the MGM Casino floor, fans were yelling “Slayer…Slayer…Slayer…” for several hours as they made their way into the venue, and the chanting was still loud and proud up until the legendary metal band took its last bow later that night in Sin City.
The show was a loaded line-up, with Pantera alumni Phil Anselmo and his Illegals opening the show, playing Pantera-only material, with a few special guests to get the night started with a bang. Anselmo walked on stage and belted “Mouth for War” and “Becoming”, before welcoming Child Bite vocalist Shawn Knight onstage for a metal duet of “I’m Broken”. The second surprise was seeing Charlie Benante get behind the drums for “Strength Beyond Strength”, but not before the huge crowd screamed a happy birthday serenade for the Anthrax drummer. No Pantera collection would be complete with “Walk”, which was a huge fan favorite to wrap up Anselmo’s powerhouse set.
Ministry took the next turn on the Campaign line up, with Al Jourgensen in great form as he launched into “The Missing”, the beginning of a near perfect set of classic Ministry. Short and sweet, the set included “Stigmata”, “Supernaut”, “Just One Fix”, “N.W.O.”, “Thieves”, and a final “Jesus Built My Hotrod” to close it out.
Primus was the final lead-in for Slayer, with Les Claypool starting the set with “Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweakers”, and the Primus superfans in the front just about lost their minds. Primus released their most recent LP The Desaturating Seven in 2017, but this set didn’t include any new material, instead sticking to fan favorites and a more well known playlist, kind of par for the night. “Winona’s Big Brown Beaver”, “My Name Is Mud”, and of course “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” made the cut.
It was bittersweet to see the upside down crosses and rotating pentagrams on the curtain for the last time, as the crowd prepared for Slayer taking the stage for their final Vegas show. The curtain dropped, and Slayer came out ferocious and full of fire, “Repentless” driving a powerful start, then back into an early “Mandatory Suicide” with pyro lighting up the stage. The Slayer
set was a 20 song repertoire of the band’s best, and the show was a metal spectacle of fire and flames and blood red lighting. The general admission floor became a huge mosh pit for the night, a fitting tribute to Slayer’s last Vegas stand. Highlights of the night as always, “War Ensemble”, “Hell Awaits”, “Raining Blood” and a final “Angel of Death”.
After a quite a few stage hugs from band and crew, a lot of cheering and more “Slayer…Slayer…” chanting resuming, the house lights came up and Tom Araya quieted the crowd to speak. There were more than a few tears in the room as Araya addressed the fans and family and said, “Thank you, time is precious, and thank you for spending this time with us. Most of all, thank you for being a part of my life.”
The Final Campaign Tour finale is in LA at The Forum, and will sure to be even more of a tear jerker to many. An end of an era in metal, but definitely going out on top of their game, and a night few fans will ever forget.
PHIL ANSELMO AND THE ILLEGALS photos from Jo Anna Jackson/Stardogphotos.com
MINISTRY photos from Jo Anna Jackson/Stardogphotos.com
PRIMUS photos from Jo Anna Jackson/Stardogphotos.com