On Monday night, the M/V Norwegian Sky steamed out of Miami stocked with 2,400 metalheads, two dozen bands, and enough voltage to blow every fuse in the continental United States. The second annual Motorhead’s Motorboat cruise was off and cruising, and passengers like Anthrax, Exodus, Hatebreed, Suicidal Tendencies, and (of course) Motorhead were determined to make this the loudest boat afloat.
The journey has scheduled stops in Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, but this first night we took a little trip just south of heaven. The mighty Slayer kicked things off as a blood red moon shone over the Atlantic. Yes, it was pretty much the most metal thing that has ever been conceived.
The band opened with “Repentless,” the title track from their latest album. In case you’re too busy re-watching their awesomely gory video to check the charts, the disc is currently number two worldwide. But Slayer was second to no one on this night. With Lemmy’s heath problems leaving him at (slightly) less than 100 percent these days, you could feel Slayer carrying the spiritual weight of this floating festival. And they did not disappoint.
How could they? Kerry King loomed over the edge of the stage, punishing his B.C. Rich six-string while Tom Araya —he of the leather larynx— inspired all to dance with the devil with his hell-conjuring roar. Paul Bostaph is back in the drummer’s seat where be belongs, and newcomer Gary Holt’s stunning virtuosity proves beyond a doubt that he was the best call to step into the shoes of the late Jeff Hanneman.
The crowd swayed in unison, both to the music and to the occasional sea swell. Believe me, you’ve never lived until you’ve seen middle-aged men slam dance in a venue called the *~Stardust Theater*~. The elegant upholstered seats are notably covered with plastic wrap, a move taken directly from my Sicilian grandma’s playbook. Clearly it’s not used to this kind of action. There’s crowd surfing. There’s moshing. There’s a rabble-rouser who needs to be escorted out for rocking a little too hard. “FUCKING SLAYER!” screams the man next to me with unbridled passion. Indeed, sir.
But maybe all of those things are normal for a Slayer show. I will not try and bullshit you, my metalhead friends. This was my very first Slayer concert experience. They say you never forget your first time, and that’s definitely true for this newbie.