It’s kind of a nice problem to have – too much good music playing here to afford! I’d love to have seen Opeth next month – and the fact that they’ve now added Katatonia in support is even more tempting – and ZZ Top, and there are a number of other shows to attend, as well as Bluesfest with Cam and Jen and Suzie.
I’m glad I decided to go and see Anthrax last night, though. Very small venue for a big band (OK, bigger in the 80s, but riding high on the back of their new album and in top form. Ears are still ringing, face is still grinning… just an awesome heavy metal show.
Actually, before I go on, here’s my review of their performance at the Gigantour festival in Edmonton 8 years ago!
Anthrax – what can you say when the classic mid-80s line-up of Anthrax is back together and taking the stage by storm? They were Suzie’s favourite – Joey Belladona does it all from Bruce Dickinson-style long screams to melodic singing to yelling, and the band were tight and intense but just looked like they were having a huge amount of fun playing together. A problem I had intermittently all night reared its head here, and it must have been much worse for Suzie all night (she’s a saint for accompanying me and hanging in there!): we didn’t know all the songs all that well. I knew most of the old Anthrax stuff because I used to listen to it in the 80s, but I’ve listened to the John Bush (replacement singer) era stuff much more in the past few years – I don’t even have a CD of the old stuff. And – I guess it makes sense since it was the old band – all they played was the old stuff. No complaints, they played all the hits – Caught In A Mosh, I’m The Man, I Am The Law, Indians, Metal Thrashing Mad, and lots more – it was just that this was the less familiar stuff for me. Probably shoulda bought up a couple of the old albums when we bought the tickets a few months ago.
Most of that still applies, and in some ways even more so. These guys are my age (within a couple of months), and they’ve been doing this for over 30 years, but they still look as if this was what they were born to do, is their dream and that they’re absolutely stoked to be on stage and are having a great time: so the audience has a great time to.
The band is tight as a duck’s proverbial: it’s really a 3-piece rhythm section with Charlie Benante’s thunderous (but *interesting* – no tedious double-kick pummel, lots of variety) and Frank Bello’s bass underlying Scott Ian’s riff mastery on rhythm guitar. Lead guitarist Rob Caggiano left the band before this tour and his temporary replacement Jon Donais of band ‘Shadows Fall’ played very well but, perhaps fittingly given his band, pretty much stayed in the shadows at the side of the stage. Singer Joey Belladona really *sings*, and his voice has matured beautifully. He can still do the long, loud screams and melodies but also had a more rhythmic, percussive approach on some songs and more bottom end.
Donais’ low-key performance is probably wise, given that everyone else on stage is busy entertaining! Benante sits high above his kit so he can see and be seen, and is working the crowd, Bello and Ian jump and race around the stage and exhort the crowd and Belladona does a lot of mimes to encourage the crowd to jump, shout and raise their fists or horns.
Joey’s banter is fairly traditional ‘Really great to be here in Brisbane (which he pronounced like an American), thank you very much, rawwkkk!!!’ stuff, but Scott Ian also steps up to the mic now and then. He got Brisbane right, and made remarks about ‘taking this seriously, so I know not everyone wants to get in the pit, but if you’re not in the pit you will raise your fist, you will bang your head, and jump up and down’. Maybe it shouldn’t work, but it did.
He also introduced one song saying ‘this one goes back to 1982 – it’s older than most of you’. Paused, then pointed out one dude in the crowd: ‘We’ve have to be Judas Priest for it to be older than you’. Got a laugh. The band’s new album ‘Worship Music’ includes a song called ‘Judas Priest’ paying tribute to that band.
It also has a (great) song called ‘In The End’ paying tribute to the recently deceased (at least, it seems that way) Ronnie James Dio. The band take this seriously, with Scott Ian raising the horns (which Dio popularised) to heaven and bowing his head as in prayer, and Bello making the sign of the cross toward heaven (interesting that they seem in no doubt which direction he went!) The tribute might seem cheesy, but it really felt sincere, and the fact that they left the stage to Rainbow’s ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’ played at full volume after Joey sang the title (doing a pretty credible Dio) brought the message home.
As in the Edmonton show, nothing from the Bush era. He co-wrote most of those songs, so maybe there are legal issues. Or maybe, between playing the hits and the stuff from the new album – which stands up to the hits well – there just wasn’t time. It’s a pity, because there are some amazing songs on those albums, but I guess we’ll always have the albums.
I tried to remember the set list without taking notes (too busy moshing!), but won’t get them in the right order from memory. We definitely heard ‘Caught In A Mosh’ (first up), ‘I’m Alive’, ‘Indians’, ‘Antisocial’ (the sing-a-long both on the intro and chorus is, ironically, perhaps the most social part of the whole event), ‘Devil You Know’, ‘Madhouse’, ‘Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t’, ‘I Am The Law’, ‘Deathrider’, ‘Medusa’, ‘Among The Living’, ‘Efilnikufesin (NFL)’, ‘In My World’ (song from the ‘Married… With Children’ episode) and… possibly, memory is mixing, ‘Belly Of The Beast’.
If you have been trying to decide whether to go see them: do! There’s not even a decision to make.