— by Sean Derrick
If there was any question whether Anthrax could still bring the force to a live show after 40 years and 11 albums together they need only to see the band in person to quelch that thought. That is exactly what the veteran metal band did on Wednesday at The Factory in Chesterfield, MO.
In town with co-headliners Black Label Society, and veterans Exodus as openers, for a stop on their 40th Anniversary Tour Anthrax wasted little time before tearing into the title track from their 1987 album Among The Living and “Caught In a Mosh”, which the fans happily obliged in a large mosh pit. The energy from the evening was spectacular.
Vocalist Joey BellaDonna hasn’t lost a beat vocally and the rest of the band (guitarists Scott Ian and Jon Donais, bassist Frank Bello, and drummer Charlie Benante) play so tight diamonds could come flying off the stage if they brought some coal out.
The band loves to have fun on stage like they are family and it shows, but the band took a serious tone for “In the End” by dedicating the song not only to Dimebag Darrell and Ronnie James Dio, but to Vinnie Paul Abbott, as well.
Anthrax mostly played show staples like “Madhouse”, “Got the Time”, “Antisocial”, and “Indians”, but they threw in a few deep cuts and rarely played live tracks, as well. Songs like “Metal Thrashing Mad” (which hadn’t been played live before this tour in ten years), and “Keep It in the Family” (not since 2006, and never before in Saint Louis) gave the show a fresh feel for all the die-hards who have seen the band many times).
Wednesday also marked the first time in 20 years that the band played “only” in Saint Louis. BellaDonna did a fine job on the very popular song that is sung in a different register (by former vocalist John Bush) than what BellaDonna sings in. (I personally love that song and am grateful the band has decided to perform it live again.)
Anthrax began the show with a ten-minute celebrity video raining praise upon the band from the likes of Tom Morello, Corey Taylor, Gene Simmons, Dave Mustaine, Rick Neilsen, Robert Trujillo, Henry Rollins, John 5, Slash, Chuck D, Phil Anselmo, Kerry King, Norman Reedus, Vernon Reid, Keanu Reaves, Sammy Hagar, etc. (you get the idea). Yeah, it just kept coming, but was tremendously justified. Anthrax are no slouches in the studio and especially live. I first saw them live in 1990 on the Clash of the Titans Tour and many times since. Let’s just say they are aging like a fine wine…a high-energy metallic kick-ass wine, that is.
Black Label Society, the Zakk Wylde fronted band that has built a cult-like following since their inception 25 years ago, is co-headlining the tour and provided a tear-down-the-walls set of their own. With the growling opening chords of “Funeral Bell” Wylde and band (bassists John DeSevervio, guitarist Dario Lorina, and drummer Jeff Fabb) served notice that they were there to take no prisoners.
The band powered through a trove of in-your-face gritty metal with songs like ‘Fire It Up” (complete with the ever-present beach balls, and Wylde shredding a solo on top of the piano), “Destruction Overdrive”, and of course “Stillborn”.
Wylde’s guitar prowess easily places him in the category of one of the best guitarists on Earth, with or without the flashy behind the back of the head solos that are, admittedly, pretty damn amazing.
They did briefly tone down for Zakk’s 2005 tribute to his close friend Dimebag Darrell, which saw the versatile Wylde tickle the keys on the piano, still showing the emotion that drove the song from the beginning.
Veteran thrash metal act Exodus opened the show with a solid performance from the band, though vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza could not be heard during much of the first half of their set. The problem was somewhat rectified before the band ended their set.
The entire lineup turned The Factory into a heaven of heavy metal hair whipping action that surely satiated any hardcore fan’s lust for a solid night of metal.
Be sure to check out the full gallery of photos from the evening after the setlists below.
Among the Living
Caught in a Mosh
Metal Thrashing Mad
Keep It in the Family
I Am the Law
In the End
Got the Time
Bring the Noise (1st verse)
The Beginning…At Last
Destroy & Conquer
Heart of Darkness
A Love Unreal
You Made Me Want to Live
In This River
Trampled Down Below
Set You Free
Fire It UP