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Metal/Prog Metal Concert Reviews

Anthrax

Live in Chicago, October, 2011

Review by Mike Korn

Thrash is back and you better get used to it. Let's face it, there are some great new thrash bands like Evile and Warbringer, but it's really been the Old Guard who have risen from their graves and wrecked necks in recent years. Defying expectations, the classic thrashers of the 80s have for the most part churned out some really good stuff recently, demonstrating there's just no substitute for experience.

This three-band assault squad managed to transport the entire Congress Theater back to 1987 tonight, making old-timers feel young and giving young kids a taste of something they never had. I heard from Death Angel's Mark Osegueda that Overkill was originally going to be part of the bill. I think my brain would have combusted through sheer awesomeness if that had happened. As it was, I was more than pleased by the show each band delivered that night. It was fun! It was just as crazy as any show back in the day and that was something I wasn't expecting!

Anthrax had a lot to prove to me. Most of the last ten years they've spent in a state of constantly jumping the shark, finally winding up with the whole Dan Nelson fiasco. Getting Joey Belladonna back in the lead singer spot was a big step in the right direction and the current comeback disc Worship Music is encouraging, but still, a lot of doubts lingered in my mind concerning the Noo Yawker's latest attempt to rise from the grave.

There's nothing to worry about, at least on the live front. These guys jumped into their own personal time machine and delivered the kind of Anthrax gig that set the world on fire back in 86 and 87. And the crowd was with them all the way. They started with a couple of newbies from Worship Music including the excellent "Fight 'Em Till You Can't" before really driving the place crazy with "Caught In A Mosh,” "Madhouse" and the ultimate singalong anthem "Antisocial.” Belladonna was great and the band was on fire. Bassist Frank Bello remains the unsung hero of Anthrax, running around the stage like a madman and thrashing his mop of hair around with no sign of neck strain. The troll-like figure of Scott Ian did a ton of that stomping mosh dance for which he’s known, while returning guitarist Rob Caggiano seemed the picture of cool as he delivered shredding solos. But the guy who really impressed me this time out was drummer Charlie Benante. Man, does this guy hit hard! He’s not the flashiest skinbeater, but uncannily accurate, with a ton of endurance. He didn't miss a trick.

There are a couple of tunes I wish the guys would have played, like "Belly of the Beast" and "Keep It In the Family,” but overall, the setlist was more than acceptable. "Indians" got the best response, with Belladonna donning the warbonnet and the whole crowd doing the "war dance" so hard that Scott Ian was heard to say "F***in' Chicago...I love this place!". The main set ended on a surprise note, as Belladonna tried his hand at singing the anthem from the John Bush years, "Only.” I can't say he fits the song as well as Bush did, but with the crowd singing along on every word, that didn't seem to matter much.

The encore brought us "Among The Living,” a trip way back in time for "Metal Thrashing Mad" and a snippet of Sepultura's "Refuse/Resist" before slamming into the expected "I Am The Law.” With the response Anthrax got they could have played a couple more hours. Anthrax jumping the shark? Not that night...they jumped in the ocean and kicked that sucker to the shore!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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