Location: Wellington, NZ,
This was it. Our first true metal gig. Slayer. Me and my brother would sleep rough if we had to. For us, Slayer were the gods of metal at that time. 'Divine Intervention' was on constant rotation on our stereo. The idea that they would even come to New Zealand was far-fetched itself. But we asked no questions. We bought our tickets and prepared to become metal legends -- in our own minds that is.
6.20am. Palmerston North train station. Two guys in shorts in the fading summer. Two bad haircuts. Two tickets to Slayer. Boy we are on our way! By American standards, New Zealand trains are primitive and have not been replaced since the 1960s. So as the bumpy and slow ride commences, all you can do is tolerate it. There are frequent stops to pick up the numerous suit and tie workers on their way to the nation's capital. One such worker takes the seat next to me. Shades and a mullet. A briefcase. Me? Shorts and a Hanes beefy tee.
Now it is raining. We misjudged the weather. As the ride ends, an American visitor chats with a native. ''I was watching rugby, is that what you call it? Pretty rough! Still no match for the Raiders!'' The native is bemused. ''The Canberra Raiders? J.K. anyday mate!'' is his reply. ''No, the L.A. Raiders!'' he fires back. ''Who? Never heard of them!'' barks back the yokel. There is no more talk. The ride ends shortly after and we step out into an Arctic wind. Walking amongst the nine-to-fivers we get a few stares. Shorts. So much for sleeping rough. Eventually we find an overpriced hostel and pay $50 for two bunks. Nothing to do but wait it out.
A dull day ensues and, after much deliberation, we leave for the venue early. After finding the Wellington Town Hall, we walk through what we assume is the entrance. Some old geezer runs out at us. ''You can't come in here! Piss off!'' We head around back instead and there they are. A bunch of freaks in black. Hundreds of them. For miles around are demented cries of ''Slayerrrr!'' Bottles smash. opting to leave this sorry spectacle, we go and find our seats. We locate them. Trying to ignore the increasing crowd, I imagine Kerry King tearing it up. I don't get far, some git has jumped on me. ''Hey Purvis what's up mate!'' he screams, trying to get to the row behind us.
Incensed at this distraction my brother pushes him off us and on to the floor. ''What's your problem bro!'' he yells. Sensing a kicking, he leaves. Biohazard come and go. Not knowing any of their songs does not help. Not that it would; they are all bad. The crowd is impatient for the kings of thrash. Arriving late are two chaps who take the unoccupied seats next to me. One looks like Beavis. The other some dude from 1985. ''How's it goin' bro,'' Beavis asks me. ''Okay'' is all I can enthuse him with. Why did he have to sit next to me?
Meanwhile, Slayer makes the crowd wait and wait. Some hopeless Slayer chants erupt but burn out after seconds. A drum tech walks on stage. It is inevitable: ''hey it's Paul Bostaph'' bellows Purvis from behind. But wait! The lights dim. No it couldn't be. Is it them? I can't believe it. There they are. Araya. King. Hanneman. Bostaph. Rudeness personified.
To say it is loud is an understatement. My hearing's shot after opener 'Killing Fields'. Standing ovation. Araya soaks it up. ''Shut up'' he nonchalantly tells the audience. In the later years, through bootlegs and videos, I discovered he said this at every show. But here, right now, they are thrash titans. You name it, they play it. 'War Ensemble', 'Angel Of Death', 'South Of Heaven', 'Chemical Warfare'. And by Murphy's law, that yawner 'Seasons In The Abyss'. I can't help but notice the crowd's lack of enthusiasm during this.
And they follow it with '213'. And this is where it happens. The greatest thing I have ever heard at a concert -- a fellow yelling ''play something harder!'' I think above the 120 decibel din he was heard.
If speed was what he wanted. he got it. 'Mind Control', 'Spirit In Black', 'Piece By Piece', 'Dittohead' and 'Hell Awaits' all blast forth from the stage. It was almost indecipherable, but it was there. During 'Raining Blood,' I noticed Beavis staring at me. I looked into his eyes. He nodded. I nodded. We both knew.
There was still room to bore with 'Dead Skin Mask' but the final encore's 'Captor Of Sin' ended the whirlwind. As the crowd left I saw the sweat, the mania, complaints of deafened ears, parents looking for their kids. Police preparing for a riot. We had made it.
As we slept in our cheap bunks that night, the music from the strip club down below pounded into my aching head. My ears had never rung so loud. We returned home the next day just waiting for the next gig.
Four years later I saw Slayer on their 'Diabolus In Musica' tour. The lads were older but still the best thrash band around. But it wasn't as good as the first time. They were tighter than in '95 and just as heavy but I got the feeling I wasn't missing anything. Before the encore, I left. It was okay. I had already seen it.