Anthrax ended their tour last night at The Rave, a venue they have rocked for nearly 30 years in their illustrious career as thrash metal pioneers.
Supporting their first CD in eight years, entitled "Worship Music," the band played well beyond their scheduled time and added some bonus songs to the setlist on the fly. Fans showed up in droves and it was shoulder to shoulder inside the concert, which probably should have been held upstairs in the ballroom. Death Angel opened up the show, and Testament co-headlined.
There were more photographers in the pit than I've ever seen at any show at The Rave; I counted at least 12 or 13 in the cramped space between the fans and the stage. It was a rather amusing scenario, but kudos to Anthrax for working the stage and giving the fans and photographers a wild show. By the third song, "Caught In A Mosh," I was concentrating more on not getting kicked in the head by fans body surfing into the pit than taking photos. Such are the hazards of photographing a metal show.
There's an inherent risk for some bands to become a parody of their former selves after such a long time in the industry. It's easy to slip into the curse of becoming more or less a tribute band with more replacement members than original musicians, playing to half-sold venues. Nothing could be further from the truth with Anthrax; they've remained true to their music, their fans and themselves. Anthrax currently consists of almost the entire "Among The Living" classic lineup, with lead guitarist Dan Spitz the only missing member of the band.
Lead singer Joey Belladonna declared that the concert had "The absolute potential to be the best show of the tour," which of course was met with fervent approval, and the crowd stepped it up a notch. Metal horns were raised in the air and body surfers made their way to the front one after another. A bit later in the show Joey would tell the crowd, "Thank you so much for loving this music."
Deviating from the setlist I saw onstage, Anthrax whipped out a few classics near the end of the show, including "Medusa," "Among The Living" and the always entertaining "I'm The Man." It was a special night, being the last of the tour, and you could tell that Anthrax was in the moment and loving it. Belladonna reassured the crowd that the love they were being shown by the fans was mutual, and shouted out, "F*cking Milwaukee rules man! You rule!"
Guitarist Scott Ian wasn't without his moments last night either. The veteran guitarist turned in a solid performance and his high energy vibe was contagious to his bandmates and the crowd. Just before leaving the stage he reminded us that playing for the crowd was an "absolute f*cking privilege" and to "please never forget, always worship music."