Flashback to November 2, 1988: Slayer, Motörhead and Overkill at Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie

These were days when metal giants still walked the Earth, and on this day on 1988 a bulletproof triple-bill played at a packed Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie: California thrashers Slayer, legendary British underground gods Motörhead, and NJ heavies Overkill, who opened.

photo by Mark Kurtzner

At the time, Overkill were supporting their then-new third album, ‘Under The Influence’, and played a short set featuring new bruisers such as “Shred” and “Welcome to the Gutter,” along with a few classics like “Rotten to the Core.”  Said frontman Bobby Blitz a few years later about opening for Motörhead – Overkill, were, after all, named after a Motörhead song – “touring with Lemmy was like touring with GOD!  I’d be sitting next to him, taking pictures, asking ‘Can you sign another album, Lem? It was great.”

photo by Mark Kurtzner

Motörhead played second – odd to see them open for Slayer, a band who’d been wearing Motörhead shirts on the inside sleeve of their first album five years earlier, and a band about 10 years behind of Motörhead in terms of when their first albums came out – but Slayer had hit big with their third record ‘Reign In Blood’ a couple years earlier, while Motörhead were still – and always would be, In America – beloved underground veterans.  This did not stop Lemmy and his bands of rogues from stealing the show.  They were then promoting their second live record, ‘No Sleep At All’, and Lemmy strode out on stage and barked “We are Motörhead, and we play rock’n’roll”, before the band blasted into “Dr. Rock”, the ’Orgasmatron’-era pounder which also started the new live record. 

photo by Mark Kurtzner

The band were still playing many songs from the most recent studio record, ‘Rock’n’Roll’ (4 songs, plus ‘Rock’n’Roll’-era b-side “Just Cos You Got The Power”), and “Eat The Rich” from that record got a big reaction, even from the younger Slayer-heads who knew it from MTV.  Unlike their later years, where the majority of the set was from the ‘classic’ pre-1983 Fast Eddie years, this night most of the songs played were from the then-recent records by the newer 4-piece Motörhead with guitarists Wurzel and Phil Campbell, including “Dr Rock”, “Built for Speed”, a grinding “Orgasmatron”, the minor hit “Killed by Death”, and the aforementioned slew of ‘Rock’n’Roll’-era songs.  The band did play a few vintage songs though, including “Stay Clean”, “Metropolis”, eternal favorite “Ace of Spades” and the world-flattening and opening-band-inspiring “Overkill”.  A ear-destroyingly killer show, and with 3 of these 4 men now in Valhalla – Lemmy, guitarist Wurzel and drummer ‘Philthy’ Phil Taylor – a lineup that will never be seen again.

photo by Mark Kurtzner

Slayer, of course, were also mighty and unstoppable.  The pit was huge, sweeping away any who wanted to merely stand and watch, and the west coast thrashers opened with “South of Heaven”, title track from the then-new record, before mayhem erupted with song #2, “Raining Blood”.  This was the ‘classic lineup’ – Tom Araya, Kerry King, drummer Dave Lombardo, and the late, great Jeff Hanneman.  There was no rest thereafter, and the band leaned on the new record heavily – 8 of 15 songs played were from ‘South of Heaven’, with more vintage neck-snapppers like “Black Magic”, “Chemical Warfare”, “Necrophiliac”, “Postmortem” and “Kill Again” also played, before the show wrapped up – as would usually be the case, until Slayer’s 2019 conclusion as a touring band – with ‘Reign In Blood’-era skull-smasher “Angel of Death.”

photo by Mark Kurtzner

Motörhead setlist: Doctor Rock, Stay Clean, Traitor, Metropolis, Dogs, Eat the Rich, Built for Speed, Just ‘Cos You Got the Power, Orgasmatron, Stone Deaf in the U.S.A., Killed by Death, Ace of Spades, Overkill

Slayer setlist: South of Heaven, Raining Blood, Silent Scream, Read Between the Lies, Black Magic, Postmortem, Necrophiliac, Behind the Crooked Cross, Kill Again, Mandatory Suicide, Chemical Warfare, Ghosts of War, Spill the Blood, Live Undead, Angel of Death

photo by Mark Kurtzner
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