Slayer / Sepultura / System of a Down

London Astoria

November 26 / 27 1998

I wondered how to do this review. Two separate gig reviews, separate ones for each band? In the end, it's an all in oner. It's going to be long. It's going to be confusing. And it's going to revolve around the band that I specifically came to see, System of a Down.

I've been waiting to see System for over a year now, and finally my chance came. And did they disappoint. Don't be silly. I actually wasn't prepared for how good they were. The album is great, live it's taken to an extra dimension. I know Serj does all the vocals, but suddenly when you hear those bits in Suggestions or Sugar, it still hits you with surprise. The variation the man has is what makes them so wonderful. They've set the benchmark for new bands in this genre with the album, and they're now doing it with the gigs. And do they take the easy option? Do they hell. Different set each night, though they start with Know? each time. The first night sees the inclusion of Peephole, which fails to rear it's head on the Friday. However, the awesome P.L.U.C.K. does. For some reason, I didn't expect to hear this song, so was amazed at it. They play a new song, X, featuring Serj on maracas or something like that, those things you shake. The cover of Berlins' Metro is given an airing on the Friday. War and Suit-Pee incite the biggest response from a crowd that is still entering the building given the ridiculously short period of time from the doors being opened to the band starting. I mean, they were on at 6.45 on Friday. Doors opened at 6.30. Silly.

Thursday night at the end, Shavo starts throwing something into the crowd. I stick a hand up, and something sticks. I look at it. A System sampler, but the one my beloved Kerrang! were giving away when they gave us the chance to hear the band FIRST, before anyone else. This was 6 months after the samplers I’d been giving away in the UK. Anyway, about the only thing I've caught in my life, and it features fucking Kerrang! And no, you can't have the tape then. I may not like the magazine, but I'm keeping this tape.

Anyway, Friday saw an interview take place. There's a tale to it, and the tale will now be told. Or it will if you to the next page and read the interview. But they are seriously nice people. And it was best summed up at the end of Friday, when Shavo, who was busy videoing everything, was stopped by someone. "Look forward to seeing you when you headline this place mate". Yep, that bests sums it up.

Sepultura. Now featuring Derrick Green. So how's it going to work. Well, I reckon just fine matey, just fine. He certainly has the vocal presence, and adds a new dimension to them on stage. Sure, there are times when the second guitar is missing, but that will get sorted as he learns the guitar to more songs. The band are still churning out their thing, and are joined on both nights by Kerry King, showing once and for all that any alleged feud is dead and buried.

I know they varied the set on both nights as well, but as the System interview was taking place on the second night, I missed a bit of the set. But they nip through Against, Choke, Biotech ..., Troops, Inner Self, Refuse Resist, Territory, Arise, Rumours and a shit load more. Friday sees the Bad Brains cover. And my brain is melting.

Sepultura are back.

And so are Slayer. Watching from up in the balcony area (yeah, I'm a wuss but hey, I've driven close on 600 miles, spend ages getting the System interview, and I'm tired. Second night I had a pass, and I'm taking advantage ok). Where was I, oh yeah, in the balcony, it's like something from a Mad Max film. Watching the entertainment. Slayer are the house band as people kill themselves in the pits. Though they didn't. Kill themselves that is. And on the Friday at least, that has to go down in part to the security.

Ok, I'm going to make a special mention of this, cos it deserves it. Friday, there was a coloured guy in security, the one wearing the red shirt for those that saw the gigs. Long dreads. What a star. For every band he's up encouraging people to come forward and surf. He encourages everyone to clap as the bands are due on. Catches every single person that comes over the front, lays them down and lets them out. Even holds one person in mid air so that he can try and touch hands with Green. An absolute star, as Araya notes at the end of the Slayer set. "Like to say thankyou to such awesome security". Amen to that. They should make a video of this guy and force anyone who works in security at gigs like this to watch it and learn. You help people, not fight them. And if you do so, even the most eventful gig can be safe. A hell of a lot of people can learn so much from that guy.

Anyway, amidst all this carnage, Slayer are still going. Bitter Peace starts things up, before they begin mixing things up each night as well, with new and old, Scrum, Stain of Mind, In The Name Of God, Captor of Sin. God, I can't remember everything. So much too much. Kerry King looks like he's murdering the guitar. Some guitarists look like they are barely touching a guitar, he looks like he's wrestling it. I don't know how the many does it and not break the goddamn thing. Hell Awaits, South Of Heaven, Reign in Blood, Dead Skin Mask, War Ensemble, Season in the Abyss, Mandatory Suicide and soo much more. The encore on the Thursday is Chemical Warfare. On Friday this is aired earlier and features Andreas from the Seps on guitar. It all ends with Angel Of Death, with Araya surveying the damage as he bids everyone a safe evening. "That's what Slayer is all about, fun".

The future of metal tours? Could be. Name bands touring together. They proved here that if you can overcome ego, then it's logistically possible. And it's quite an awesome sight. The only thing that needs to be resolved, is that venues get the hang of opening the doors a little earlier so that people can get in to see that first band. It's an easy concept. Open the doors.

Anyway, it's been Nottingham - London - Nottingham for the last two days. Me tired. Brain fried. But I've seen System, and I've got the interview tucked away safely. Seps tomorrow night, and then I can relax. Well, I would if I didn't have some work that has to be done on Sunday.