Prior to sound check, the band is ensconced in the back lounge of the tour bus, watching the Champions League (soccer) final. The band isn’t really touring in support of any album, just celebrating Schmier (bass & vocals) and Mike’s 30 years as a band, although the dependable (yet underrated) guitarist is the lone constant, the giant frontman having taken a well publicized late 80s, early 90s hiatus, where he started HEADHUNTER. Onstage, he told the crowd that the first English speaker he was interviewed by, all those moons ago, was Canadian! With such a lengthy history, a setlist could be a daunting task, but over the last few years DESTRUCTION runs like a well oiled machine (German precision engineering!), opting for a couple of standouts since the 2000 reunion (opener ‘Butcher Strikes Back’, ‘Nailed To The Cross’, etc.) alongside something from the newest album and the remainder, 80s classics. Tonight, however, they played ‘Satan’s Vengeance’ for the first time in Canada. The lanky bassist works the stage, trading places with Sifringer throughout. A trio of mics means he ever misses a lyric (and all parts of the audience get close to their heroes).
After the opener, it was ‘Total Desaster’. Green lights and fog greet ‘Mad Butcher’ and ‘Armageddonizer’. Blues and orange lights were also on display. The familiar, trademark yelps pepper ‘Eternal Ban’, Mike’s mop of hair flailing as violently as the makeshift mosh pit at the front of a stage decorated with matching scrims depicting the band’s exploding head logo. Schmier doesn’t have a lot of banter with the crowd, but he always knows how to mix the right amounts of seriousness and comedy into the show, joking, “This next song is dedicated to people my age. Is there anybody left from the 80s?” Cue ‘Life Without Sense’, his sweat soaked stringy black hair dangling in front of his face.
‘Hate Is My Fuel’ was announced as time for a circle pit, but ‘Thrash Til Death’ saw people hurling themselves onstage (no barricade, nor security to overcome). A short drum solo gives the older pair a chance to catch their breath, prior to ‘Tormentor’, followed by ‘Nailed To The Cross’. Claiming it was “request time,” the suggestion for ‘Death Trap’ is granted, followed by the returning fog, to introduce ‘Bestial Invasion’.
For an encore, pink/red lights welcome the band back onstage to the intro music for ‘Curse The Gods’, before ending with ‘Invincible Force’, Schmier throwing the horns as he plays, a fitting send off to the faithful gathering.
30 years? It certainly doesn’t look or sound like three decades has hampered them in any way. Maybe those cunning Germans have perfected the time machine.
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