Slayer at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV

Slayer brings one of the last stops of their final tour to Las Vegas with support from Primus, Ministry and Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals.

It is the night before Thanksgiving and this crowd is thankful for one thing, the fact that they get to see one of the last nights of touring for thrash metal powerhouse Slayer. The crowd is packed into this arena early because there is a huge and diverse lineup first. At 6:00 PM the house lights go dark and Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals take the stage. Phil Anselmo is a mainstay in the heavy metal scene not only for his work with bands like the Illegals but Down and Superjoint Ritual as well. Of course, he is most well known for Pantera and that is what makes this performance tonight so special – The Illegals are playing Pantera classics on this tour. These songs are iconic and the set tonight includes all the powerhouses and fan favorites. Opening with “Mouth for War,” “Becoming” and “I’m Broken” the intensity of the set is matched by the crowd with mosh pits in both the VIP section and general admission. The set continues jamming in as many Pantera classics as they can until they end with “F**king Hostile” and “Walk.” The only thing that could have made this set any better would have been for it to be longer, but in any case, the crowd loves every minute of it and it shows just how much they miss Pantera and these songs.

From heavy metal the show transitions to industrial with Ministry‘s set. This band has been around since 1981 and they always put on an exciting show and tonight is no different. A large illuminated cross is in the center of the stage and frontman Al Jourgensen prowls around. He announces that they are going to play a lot of old songs and they do just that including “Stigmata,” “Just One Fix,” “N.W.O” and “Jesus Built My Hotrod.” The music is dark and the stage matches this. The industrial sound is unique. There is no mistaking Ministry for any other band in this genre. Their set is back to back songs, no talking just the music. There is a different feeling in the crowd during this set with less moshing, but it is intense all the same and really continues to build the energy of the crowd.

There is another quick set change and it is time for Primus. This funk metal band is probably the one most in the crowd are least familiar with. They, of course, know their songs “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver,” “My Name is Mud,” and “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver,” all of which are played tonight but the rest of their catalog is mostly unknown to many in the crowd. Their set is definitely different and not as intense of a feeling in the crowd, but there is no denying the musicianship of Les Claypool, Larry “Ler” LaLonde and Tim “Herb” Alexander. To some their set is a strange fit in this lineup while others appreciate the diversity.

It is now time for the band everyone has come to see and been screaming the name of all night, Slayer. Before the band takes the stage, the lights go out and images are projected onto the black curtain covering the stage including the Slayer logo and spinning crosses that stop inverted. After the brief light show, the curtain drops revealing Slayer and the crowd explodes. The set opens with “Delusions of a Savior,” “Repentless” and “Mandatory Suicide.” There is so much pyro on the stage that is blasting off almost constantly behind Tom Araya, Kerry King, and Gary Holt. The lights and flames create that stage feeling that is classic Slayer. It all adds to the feel of the show and the excitement of the crowd keeps building.

There are multiple mosh pits throughout the arena as the set continues with crowd favorites like “Hate Worldwide,” “War Ensemble,” “Seasons in the Abyss,” “Hell Awaits” and “South of Heaven.” Araya takes some time to speak to the crowd, providing his farewell before the set concludes with “Raining Blood,” “Dead Skin Mask” and “Angel of Death.” The hour and a half, twenty-song set passes too quickly but it is the perfect conclusion to their career dating back to 1981 and includes a tribute to deceased guitarist Jeff Hanneman. When the music stops all the members of the band come to the front of the stage to say their final goodbyes to the fans which includes throwing guitar picks and drumsticks to the eagerly awaiting crowd, none of whom left early from this show.

Goodbye tours are often too common, but this one does have the feeling of it really being the end. The night is a perfect way for the fans to say goodbye to one of their favorite bands and for the band to say goodbye to their loyal fans and their new ones. The close of the night is quickly approaching Thanksgiving and these fans are definitely thankful for what they just saw. It is bittersweet but it is the perfect way to end this run.

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About Abigail Buckler 49 Articles
A Las Vegas based photographer, Abigail enjoys shooting a variety of things but her primary focus is travel, music, nature and wildlife. Abigail's goal through her projects including music, events, and animal photography is to capture the candid moments that tell the story. They are singular moment of time, her goal is to take the viewer back to that point and the memories. She discovered photography is her passion. This allows her to incorporate my long standing love of music and travel into this art form. For Abigail, live music and concerts are who she is, and concerts and travel often went hand in hand. Now photography has brought these all together for her in a new and exciting way.