Slayer & Anthrax Live @ The Big Top, Sydney, Australia

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When one is presented with the opportunity to photograph Slayer and Anthrax – no matter where – one jumps at that chance!

Both are amongst two of my favourite bands and both I had never photographed in the past so even if the gig was to be held in Sydney, I was arranging flights and accommodation even before the confirmation to shoot had been finalised!

It wasn’t long for confirmation to arrive and the next thing I knew it was the day of the gig. I flew into Sydney a little after 5.30 and once at my hotel in North Sydney I refreshed, had some dinner and then made the trek to the Big Top venue at Luna Park just at the foot of the mighty Sydney Harbour Bridge.

My cabbie marvelled at all the Metal Heads loitering in the general vicinity commenting, “everyone’s dressed the same…” and then I noticed I too was in the obligatory black tee shirt and army camo shorts, long hair and tattoos like the majority of the punters present! Naturally I felt at home almost in an instant.

I stood at the feet of the Harbour Bridge and marvelled at the view ahead. With the sightseeing over in about 5 minutes, it was time to lock and load and head into the venue.

And what a freaking cool venue it is. I can fully understand why many of the international Metal acts perform here. Its about as close to the perfect venue as you can get albeit acoustically, I’ve heard far better.

I did the fanboy thing and bought myself a Slayer t-shirt just as Kingdom Of Sorrow were winding down their set.

I really wanted to catch them too, let alone photograph them, but I just could not align my schedule to accommodate that.

I made my way to the photo pit and Anthrax took command of the stage. Without Charlie Benante on the kit, it wasn’t the good, old Anthrax that I know and love but they still put forth a blistering set mixed from their past repertoire and liberally peppered with new tunes from their awesome ‘Worship Music’ opus. Ya couldn’t wipe the grin of my face as I stood in front of Sir Scott Ian. He ripped it a new one and still has the same energy and presence as he did 20+ years ago.

I was surprised by the amount of photogs in the pit. There were quite a few of us which made jockeying for position just that little bit trickier.

Not long after Anthrax, Slayer were armed and ready. Again, they were without their drummer who many feel is the driving force behind their sound. Jon Dette, who had just played a set with Anthrax was on double-duty tonight hitting the skins for the controversially absent Dave Lombardo. Jon did an admirable job indeed, but I would have loved to have experience the merciless onslaught that is Dave Lombard in full throttle – one of the finest if not best drummers of his genre!

I’ve seen Slayer about 4 times and they’ve always been kinda not-quite right. The Tom Araya Karaoke gig that happened in Melbourne a few years ago was a disappointing night as Tom couldn’t sing a note – but tonight I gotta say, Slayer were on!

I had a blast photographing the gig until a punter came flying over the security railing and landed feet first into my right shoulder blade. It was agony as I tried to fight of the pain and the size 10 Doc Marten boot that is imprinted on my back.

It proved to be a night of classic old-school Thrash Metal by two bands that literally defined the Thrash Metal movement. Hurt shoulder and all, I had an absolute blast!

Photos by John Raptis

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