By Jere Lehtinen
As you know, I am a hockey player and not a writer so bear with me as I tell you about my night with the band Slayer. About a month ago the National Hockey League gave me a call in Finland and asked me if I would like to attend a Slayer concert at Nokia Theater in Grand Prairie on August 30. They told me that I would meet the band and the league would do a big feature on it, sending a camera crew and production staff. Since Slayer is one of my favorite bands, I could not pass it up.
Of course, it was a great night because I had the chance to see Slayer once again. I have seen them six other times so this was my seventh chance to go to their concert. This time was totally different though. I’ve been twice before in Dallas and the other four times were in Europe, where they are absolutely huge. I actually met the band in Finland back in 2002, but there were six other guys and it was just a quick hello and then we were out of there (former Dallas Star Janne Niinimaa was the one who set that meeting up). This meeting was much more meaningful to me.
We arrived at Nokia Theater at about 5 p.m. and met Slayer’s management team. They couldn’t have been nicer to all of us. They gave us “All-Access, VIP Passes” and told us to go anywhere we wanted…anywhere, except for in the dressing room for Marilyn Manson, who was set to play after Slayer.
Shortly after arriving, Slayer’s managers took us into their dressing room. I was pretty excited because I knew the band was coming in next. After about 10 minutes, the door opened up and guitarist and co-founder of Slayer Jeff Hanneman walked in. He was a great guy to talk to, as we talked about the band’s future plans, who is going to be good in the NHL next season and why he loves hockey so much. I was surprised at how big of hockey fan he was. He talked about the similarities in what he does and hockey. He compared the speed of Slayer and the NHL, as well as the intensity and the rush you get. It was very interesting to listen to him. We ended up chatting for about 10 or 15 minutes.
When Hanneman left, he came back with the other three guys in the moment I was waiting for. It was funny because the anticipation of waiting for them in the dressing room made me a little nervous. However, once they got in and we began to talk, it ended up being a moment I will never forget.
I also had the opportunity to present all four of them with Dallas Stars jerseys that they seemed very pumped to get. As I spoke with the four of them – Hanneman (guitar), Tom Araya (singer), Kerry King (guitar) and Dave Lombardo (drums) – it hit me that I have been listening to these guys for over 20 years now. That’s right, 20 years! It was back in the mid 80’s that a few of my friends and I started to listen to this band from California (they’re from Huntington Beach). After we shook hands and they left, I couldn’t wait for the concert to start.
The band allowed us to watch the concert from the left side of the stage. We saw them come out and could even see which songs they were going to play because we were directly behind one of their board operators. After a few songs on the stage, I decided to venture out and go down right in front of the stage. Once I got down there, you could feel the difference in the intensity from where I stood as the band played loud, hard and with passion. They haven’t changed a bit. I saw them 10 years ago and they played with the same exact intensity that they played back then. The whole place was packed and Nokia Theater was rocking. That’s a really cool place to catch a concert. I was surprised at how loud it got in there.
Slayer closed with one of my favorite songs, “Angel of Death”, and I left a very happy man. Like I said before, this was an experience I will never forget. I’m sure I’ll be seeing them again, whether in Europe or here in Dallas, and I can’t wait for that next time!