Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall, Chicago (US)

ANTHRAX / DEATH ANGEL / DEVIL LAND

Date: 21st September, 2016
Venue: Concord Music Hall
Ticket: $34 (€30)
Promoter: n/a


The return of Joey Belladona poured fresh fuel in the ANTHRAX tank and there are two LPs as proof of this, even though I think their live sets speaks louder than anything else. You see, a band counting three decades of activity can easily play it safe by delivering ‘professional’ shows where ‘putting your heart on it’ has been thrown out of the window. Of course, a band can fake this and make it look like it is the honest thing in the world, but if it's fun to watch, then I really don’t care what is going on behind the stage. Anyway, having missed the previous ANTHRAX shows in Chicago and counting seven years since the last time we saw them, getting to this gig was no brainer. Plus, DEATH ANGEL were part of the billing, so it should be a Thrash all the way night, right? Before getting into the details, I’d spill the beans right away by saying it was beyond that, and let me tell you the whys and the hows.

Fortunately, this was a +17 show, meaning that the concert would start relatively late, meaning that there was a fair chance to skip the brutal evening commute. Plus, it was Wednesday, so the traffic is definitely lighter in the evening hours that can get ridiculously long if it is at the end of the working week. However, we missed DEVIL LAND and, in fact, entering Concord, a really familiar tune was playing. Yeah, it was a cover on MANOWAR’s “Metal Warriors” and even though the vocals were too high pitched for my taste, it was sure an adrenaline injection and a quick way to dust off the mid-week fatigue. The song selection became crystal clear the moment I spotted David Shankle on stage-left who was already shredding his way during this otherwise pretty simple song. That was definitely a nice start and got us in the Metal mood right away.

The venue was nicely filled with lots of metalheads wearing ANTHRAX t-shirts, something that was absolutely expected, considering the band’s bond with Chicago. Still, DEATH ANGEL were greeted by a most enthusiastic crowd and put quickly the pedal to the Metal with the old-school “Voracious Souls”. Oh my, this one woke up some long-gone MTV days during which we were staying up late (while in Europe) to record every single Metal video clip there was. Yeah, the exposure to new stuff was unique and despite how this channel came to be, I own a lot to those video-tape days. Anyway, the band was really pumped with Mark Osegueda building right away a solid communication channel with the front rows using these words; “Hello Chicago, show me that you’re physically ready”. As you can imagine, headbanging and mosh-pitting were next on the menu as the audience was reacting to the most energetic performance by the Californian band. The way the guitar duo was exchanging leads while moving around was electrifying and I think bassist Damien Sisson did his headbanging duty without missing a beat. “3rd Floor” came without pausing proving that DEATH ANGEL would make the most of the supporting slot they were given. Sure, the '80s Thrash revival wave has produced some pretty solid lineups but watching DEATH ANGEL perform like they have just released their debut LP, made me think that it is impossible for the young bands to get close to the real thing. And that’s strange because one would thing if all the ingredients are there (snare-drum action, fast guitar leads, screaming vocals etc), what’s the problem? Well, you can give the same ingredients to two different cooks but you’ll never get the same taste, right? I am sorry to all the young Thrashers out there but you have to sweat your arses off to get close to what DEATH ANGEL delivered that Wednesday night. I mean, there is no way to easily copy / paste the mix of aggression and melody songs like “Claws In So Deep” possess. “Fallen” came without stopping with the hard-hitting groove and the awesome guitars that kept the headbanging going like it was a Saturday night. “Thank you very much, Chicago for giving us the opportunity to do what we love best. Chicago has been a Metal mecca for so many years”, said Mark before getting back to the fast bmps with “Father Of Lies” from the latest DEATH ANGEL studio offering. By the time “The Moth” had come to drop the curtain, you could see how worked up the audience had become, so ANTHRAX would have absolutely no problem getting everyone onboard. DEATH ANGEL hit the nail right on the head with a ton-heavy Thrash hammer and I hope to watch them again soon, with a longer setlist.

DEATH ANGEL setlist:

01. “Voracious Souls”
02. “3rd Floor”
03. “Claws In So Deep”
04. “Fallen”
05. “Lost”
06. “Father Of Lies”
07. “The Moth”

DEATH ANGEL

Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Death Angel @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Not only did DEATH ANGEL warm us up, but they also threw the gauntlet down for ANTHRAX who had to match their energy levels and then go beyond that as every headliner owns to do. Ok, I am overselling this but I think you got my point. After all, the metalheads’ excitement the moment the lights went out pretty much stated that ANTHRAX would deliver the Thrash goods at ease. Yeah, “You Gotta Believe” sounded ten times better than the studio version and watching Scott, Frank and Jonathan breaking a sweat right away had much to do about this. Joey Belladonna is not just the icing on this Thrash cake because the moment he showed up onstage, everyone screamed a bit louder. I have no idea how he does this but without looking like he tries hard, he gets the best from everyone. I think it is his super friendly and extremely likeable attitude which has nothing to do with the superstar persona many of this level like to serve (I will disclose no names here). “Monster At The End” came without pausing and again, was a big difference from the studio version and it is fair to credit the band for this. Just like DEATH ANGEL, there is a certain quality in the performance that makes the music sounds way better. Then, it was time to take a trip down the memory lane with Joey saying "Well, Chicago, let me see you get caught in a mosh" while Scott was already hinting the next song on the set by simply kicking off the chords of no other than “Caught In A Mosh” which found me trying to make the most of my time in the photo-pit (you see, there were too many photographers-to-be at the same time in the pit, so we had one song to make due). Yeah, this is a multi-played song and most probably there are many out there who think it should be replaced, but man, how can you probably match the mosh-explosion after the “think before you speak” part? So, the mosh-pit was going strong and the first bodies started making their crowd-surfing way all the way to the front.

There was a CUBS baseball game earlier that day and Joey sung the National anthem, so the gifted singer got the chance to say ‘thanks’ for this but it was time for another oldie with “Aftershock” from “Spreading The Disease” and I was pleasantly surprised to see pretty much the same reaction from the audience. I guess, we were many old-timers inside Concord that night, something that surely helped keeping the energy going and fueled the younger bodies who could last longer in the Thrash festivities. “We’re digging in the hole right now” said Joey before rhetorically asking “everybody out there got the time?” and we surely did! Frank Bello took the que and marched on the characteristic bass line which brought everyone back into the mosh-pits, no questions asked. The band left the stage and let the taped intro return to action with “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t”. By the way, these short breaks with the lights going out and the band disappearing from the stage was kind of a turn-off but it didn’t take much time to get us back on track. “Just before the CUBS game, Joey sung the national anthem” said Scott before mentioning a CUBS player (my apologies to the baseball fans for not getting his name) by setting the record straight that he is indeed a metalhead. In fact, according to Scott's words, his favorite album is “Persistence Of Time” and his fav song is “Belly Of The Beast”. That was a cool way to introduce this killer song that got me back to my high school days. And what can I possibly say about “Medusa” which Joey introduced as a song that is unknown to him what is it about... Regardless the massive main riff and absolutely fantastic vocals, it sent massive shivers down my spine and made me remember something I read about his vocals getting better and better with time; yeah, just like old wine. For the next one, Joey stayed off stage and Frank wore a Star Wars Stormtrooper mask hinting (well, it was quite obvious) that it was about time to visit the S.O.D. days with hard-hitting “March Of The S.O.D.” which came out super heavy.

During the short break, the banners on the two sides of the stage were turned over and revealed Dio and Dimebag’s portrait, setting the proper mood for the bells’ sound of “In The End”. Joey invited everyone to raise the Metal horns in the air and I think he did some Dio poses before nailing these most melodic vocals at ease like it was just the beginning of the show. This is an impressive singing endurance that would be a shame to go unnoticed. Sometimes I find it kind of cheesy mentioning musicians who have left this world but in the end of the day, it is our duty to keep their memory alive and show the younger generations how important were for this music scene, and for some of us, what impact did they make to our lives.

Another cover that after all these years can be easily mistaken as an original ANTHRAX song was next to lift the moody atmosphere and bring back all the moshing; it was “Antisocial” with the “1-2-3-4” getting a loud sing-along response from everyone inside the venue. Again, those MTV memories came back to flood my brain but it was nothing a good headbanging could not shake off. Then, the spotlight was on Scott who revealed the next one by inviting some ooooooohs for the surprise of the setlist (at least for me) that was “Be All, End All”. “Thank you, you were amazing” said Joey and I could not agree more because the Chicago audience did rock Concord and then made the floor oscillate following the intense stomping around. Ok, “Breathing Lightning” sounded a bit out of place being part of the encore but man, it was most needed break because the show closer was about to take the last drop of energy we had left inside our tanks. Yeah, “Indians” was next and the nice circle-pit formed in the center of Concord was the perfect setting for the song’s climax with Scott screaming the trademark “war dance” letting all hell to break loose.

Indeed, the setlist felt short but my clock said that 90 minutes had passed without even noticing. ANTHRAX are in a great shape and I am sure that they will face the same energy levels next time they’ll be in Chicago, which, according to Scott, this will happen in Spring of 2017 along with some friends. Bring it on, I say!

ANTHRAX setlist:

01. “Impaled” (taped)
02. “You Gotta Believe”
03. “Monster At The End”
04. “Caught In A Mosh”
05. “Aftershock”
06. “Got The Time”
07. “Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't”
08. “Belly Of The Beast”
09. “Medusa”
10. “March Of The S.O.D.”
11. “Hymn 1” (taped)
12. “In The End”
13. “Antisocial”
14. “Be All, End All”
15. “Breathing Lightning”
16. “Indians”
17. “Long Live Rock 'N' Roll” (taped)

ANTHRAX

Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anthrax @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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