I’ve been listening to Anthrax since 1985 when I saw the video for “Madhouse” on MuchMusic ( the Canadian counterpart to MTV). Soon after, a friend at school made me a copy of the album it’s from, “Spreading the Disease” and I listened to that cassette constantly on my way to and from school. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live multiple times over the years (with 3 different singers!), and was really looking forward to seeing them again.
I was really happy when the Canadian tour was announced as an old school thrash event: Testament would join them, along with Death Angel, a band I missed out on in the 80‘s but had discovered not long before through Sam Dunn’s great documentary Metal Evolution Testament is a band I discovered in the 80’s but grew to really appreciate in the last decade. So this bill was a match made in heaven (or hell?) for me.
I arrived about 10 minutes before Death Angel was due to hit the stage, and to my surprise, there were already a lot of people at the Metropolis. The balcony was almost full and the floor had people spread out across the entire surface! I managed to get to the front (maybe the equivalent of 4th row, although this fluctuated once the mosh pit got going!) right in front of the spot Scott Ian would occupy later on.
Death Angel came on stage right on time (the entire show followed the schedule published by the promoter to the minute). I had done a crash course in the preceding weeks to familiarize myself with their music, listening to the first album, Act III and their latest opus Relentless Retribution. While I wasn’t deeply familiar with all the tracks they played, I enjoyed their show tremendously. Their latest album is a very strong thrash record, and the tracks went over really well with the crowd. This is actually something that can be said of all 3 bands: they were all touring a very strong record that was embraced by the fans. Not band for a bunch of 80’s relics! 😉
I was also struck by how much fun the guys seemed to be having! Singer Mark Osegueda thanked the crowd for their energy, and reminisced about all the times they’d come to Montreal over the years, and how much of a metal town it is.
Their setlist was:
- I Chose the Sky
- Mistress of Pain
- Claws In So Deep
- Relentless Revolution
- The Ultra-Violence (first minute. I think they were covering for technical problems?)
- Thrown to the Wolves
Next up was Testament! The band has been building momentum over their last 3 albums, and the setlist reflected that with more than half the tracks coming from those. Still a heavy dose of classic tracks were played, including their most “commercial” single, “Practice What You Preach” which got the crowd going nuts! (It’s an amazing track, especially live).
My only negative point concerning their show is that their sound guy always hard pans the guitars left and right. Being on Eric Peterson’s side, I missed most of Alex Skolnick’s blistering lead work. 🙁
Singer Chuck Billy was in great form, and in good spirits, as usual. (As scary as he looks, I bet he’s just a big teddy bear in real life. One that can unleash a demonic voice, but a teddy bear nonetheless.) They ripped through their set without much interruptions, aligning riff after riff with surgical precision. A huge pit started forming in front of the stage, one that would keep going for the entire show (it culminated during “Into the Pit”, for obvious reasons). Lots of body surfing too. And once again, the crowd reacted really enthusiastically to the band’s new material (4 of the 12 tracks played came from Dark Roots of the Earth). Chuck Billy introduced “Native Blood” as a tribute to his Native American roots, and got rewarded by having a Mohawk flag thrown on stage (it seems a regular occurrence in Montreal whenever an artist with native blood comes to town)
Their setlist was:
- Rise Up
- The New Order
- The Preacher
- Native Blood
- True American Hate
- More Than Meets the Eye
- Dark Roots of Earth
- Into the Pit
- Practice What You Preach
- Over the Wall
- D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
- 3 Days in Darkness
Then came headliners Anthrax. Their history and line up changes read like a soap opera, but ever since their second reunion with classic era singer Joey Belladona (second singer of the night with Native American ancestry AND second of the night to rock the “half mic stand”) they seem to have reached some sort of stability.
They were touring their latest release, Worship Music, their first album with Belladonna since 1990’s Persistence of Time and their first studio album since the outstanding We’ve Come for You All from 2003. 3 tracks were played from it, once again to the great pleasure of the crowd: opener “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t” (about a zombie apocalypse) got the ball rolling in style. The Ronnie James Dio inspired “In The End” derailed the energy of the show a little, but the band picked it up right after with “The Devil You Know”. Classics like “Caught in a Mosh” made the mosh pit even more intense, and “Indians”, “N.F.L.”, “Madhouse” and the Judge Dredd homage “I Am the Law” were all highlights of the show.
Scott Ian also praised the Montreal crowd (I know artists always say that, but every time, Scott seems to genuinely appreciate our city). He also dedicated a track to Denis Blanchette, a Metropolis technician who was shot to death during a political rally after the last provincial election (for more info: http://goo.gl/P3AJ6) The gesture went over great with the crowd, but Scott, couldn’t you have picked a more fitting song than “Deathrider”?
- Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t
- Caught in a Mosh
- In the End
- The Devil You Know
- In My World
- Be All, End All
- Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
- Got the Time
- I Am the Law
My one problem with their setlist (apart from the fact that earlier in the tour they were playing A.I.R. Would have loved to hear it) is this: after a 30 year career, can you guys stop it with the covers? Yeah, “Antisocial” and “Got the Time” are awesome (and for once Frankie played the GTT bass solo correctly instead of just goofing off) but they’ve been played at every gig for the last 20 years. Anthrax has more than enough material of their own to fill a setlist.
After this sonic assault, I got home tired, my ears were ringing, but I had a great time. Three amazing bands, still going strong after all these years. I must admit that anytime I listen to classic Anthrax, it’s like a time machine: I go back to my teenage years instantly. Always a great band to see again.
P.S. It was really difficult to take pictures, even though I was upfront: the Metropolis stage is usually underlit and the lightning technician used (abused) a lot of red lights and strobe lights. Add to that the constant bumping from the nearby mosh pit, and you’ll understand why the pictures are a little blurry!