The Final Campaign; Slayer, Primus, Ministry, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals 11/18/2019

Slayer, Primus, Ministry, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals
The Final Campaign
November 18th, 2019
CHI Health Center
Omaha, Nebraska

Since I moved to Nebraska, I’ve heard all the stories and warnings about how the state is nothing but cornfields and livestock, and that the only concerts that pass through the border require cowboy boots and button-up flannel shirts. Thankfully I didn’t listen to those warnings, and Nebraska’s live music scene is some of the most diverse you’ll encounter in the world. Slayer stopping in Omaha for their Final Campaign tour and playing one of the cities largest venues means that rock and heavy metal, despite what Billboard says, are far from dead.
Thousands of metals heads braved the chilly fall evening for the chance to see one of the music industries most iconic and longest lasting, continuous touring bands.
Slayer’s Final Campaign Tour felt more like a re-introduction than “the end of an era” and the band brought their friends to remind us that even a Monday night in the middle of a cornfield can be brutally intense.
Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals opened tonight’s show. They hadn’t played Omaha since 2014 and at that time the band played their original material along with covers from Pantera and Superjoint Ritual. While I never had the chance to see Pantera live, I did get to see Anselmo’s Down in 2002 when the band played the 2nd stage of Ozzfest. A few years later in 2004, I had the chance to catch Superjoint Ritual at Pigstock in Clinton, Iowa. I know what you’re thinking. Pigstock? Chuckle if you want too, but Pigstock was THE Midwest rock/metal festival to play in the early 2000’s. Slayer even headlined a Pigstock.
Anselmo dedicated the set to the late Vinny Paul, and his brother Dimebag Darryl Abbott, founding members’ of Pantera. The band’s set would be an homage to Pantera, something that, to my knowledge, Anselmo has never done live before. Anselmo and The Illegals, if only for a brief time, resurrected the memory of the Cowboys From Hell.
Soon enough It was time to take a trip and to grove with Ministry. The band were returning to Nebraska just over a year since their last show. Ministry had played in April of 2018 in Lincoln when supporting their Amerikkkant release, the band’s first new material in almost 5 years. Tonight’s set was going to be all about the band’s history though. Al Jourgensen, Ministry’s founder and only remaining original member, focused on the what Ministry’s classic fans wanted to hear.
The band started out with a religious theme, muscling through The Missing, Deity, and Stigmata, before hammering into one of my favorite tracks. While performing headlining sets during the tour’s off dates, Ministry added their cover of Black Sabbath’s Supernaut. I remember buying the 1000 Homo DJs EP back in the mid-90s and my mother throwing it away because it was not music that she wanted her children listening too. Thankfully I found another copy of the CD once I moved out, and even more thankful that Ministry added their Black Sabbath cover to this tour’s set.
Even with a shorter opening set, Uncle Al and his backing band thrashed through their set with the same intensity of a headlining show. The band focused on their older fan favorites and served as the perfect opener for Slayer’s final tour.
Tonight would be my first time seeing Primus, and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never been a huge Primus fan. I don’t own any albums, but I can sing along when they come on the radio. That being said, Primus puts on one helluva show, even if they were one of the strangest bands I’ve ever seen.
The band touched on fan favorites from their extensive 30 year catalogue, and through in a trippy cover of Rush’s Cygnus X-1. While there wasn’t a lot of moshing, there were definitely a few thousand rapid fans screaming along to every song. Maybe the partially subdued fans swaying during Primus’ set was more meant to conserve energy for tonight’s headliner?
The band’s 20 song setlist touched on nearly every release of the band’s four decades long career, minus 1994’s Divine Intervention, 1996’s Undisputed Attitude, and 2006’s controversial Christ Illusion.
Tonight would be my fifth time seeing Slayer since 2000 when the band toured with Slipknot on the Tattoo the Earth tour. I’m still wrapping my head around Slayer retiring. We’ve known for months that this era would end. It’s not like the band played a surprise show and shocked the crowd with the announcement. It’s just hard to believe that this really was the end. This was the last time Slayer would be playing Omaha. The last time so many of us would get to see the band live. It really wasn’t fair and seemed like a foggy haze.  What I wasn’t ready for was the ending. The last time I’d be photographing the band. The last time I would hear Stain of Mind. The last time I’d see the pyrotechnics burst during Mandatory Suicide.
Vocalist and founder Tom Araya once said “We are all on this planet to learn and experience.” Slayer’s Final Campaign tour was an experience that would not soon to be forgotten. Hopefully the fans learned to appreciate the time we shared with these Lords of Thrash Metal.