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Anthrax live

| January 18, 2006 | 4 Comments

House Of Blues, Chicago
Friday, January 13, 2006

Of the Big Four bands that ruled metal in the ’80s and into the early ’90s, Anthrax were always the easiest to forget. The band didn’t have the songwriting of Metallica, the evil of Slayer, or the chops of Megadeth. They’re kind of like the Almond Joy of the Big Four: It’s tasty, and you won’t turn it down, but when given a choice you would probably rather have a Snickers, Twix, or Baby Ruth.

Maybe that’s why of the four, Anthrax’s popularity fizzled the most, despite, along with Slayer, staying true to their defining speed/thrash sound — Metallica and Megadeth alienated metalheads in the mid-’90s when they began trying to score heavy rock and alt-metal hits. Even when the group “parted ways with” singer Joey Belladonna in 1992 — replacing him with John Bush — their core style and integrity never diminished, but their following did. And maybe that’s why drummer Charlie Benante and guitarist Scott Ian decided to reunite the “classic” lineup (bassist Frank Bello, guitarist Dan Spitz, Belladonna, Ian, and Benante) last year: to reintroduce the world to one of metal’s true pioneering acts and recharge a fanbase that was unresponsive to the last few Bush-led efforts.

Early in the band’s Chicago show, Anthrax made their case loud and clear, reintroducing themselves by smacking fans in the face with their own big four: “Among The Living,” “Metal Thrashing Mad,” “Got The Time,” and “Caught In A Mosh.” Ian, one of metal’s best rhythm guitarists, and Bello stomped around stage like it was crawling with fire ants, Benante attacked his drums furiously, and Belladonna hammed it up with his mic on a stick. It has only been 10 months since reforming, but, cliché as it might sound, Anthrax sounded so good during these songs it was easy to forget the 13 years this lineup was apart. All seemed right again.

What next, though? It became apparent three-fourths of the way through the set Anthrax, like a 13-year-old boy with his first copy of Hustler, had blown their load early. What’s left after you’ve thrown four of your biggest crowd pleasers (“Got The Time” is a Joe Jackson cover, but still a Anthrax staple) out there so early? Spitz seemed bored to tears during the rarely played “A Skeleton In The Closet” (in fact Spitz appeared uninterested from the time he stepped onstage, merely going through the motions), and “Medussa” was a head-scratching set inclusion. Belladonna genuinely appeared to be having fun, especially during the band’s flawless run through “Antisocial,” and he should be — a year-and-a-half ago he was playing the sports-bar circuit. Maybe Anthrax should consider replacing Spitz with the fan — introduced as Graham — who won a contest to play guitar on Kiss-cover “Parasite” during the encore.

Speaking of encore, Anthrax’s inability to spread out their setlist left us with a particularly dry finale that consisted of “I’m The Man,” “Parasite,” “Aftershock,” and “I Am The Law.” Any number of songs from Thrax’s catalogue — particularly “Belly Of The Beast” or “Keep It In The Family” — would have packed more punch than the lackluster “Aftershock.”

Still, there were enough vintage Anthrax moments (the sharp riffs of “N.F.L.” and “Indians”; Ian’s stage presence; the silliness of “I’m The Man”; Belladonna’s hair) to leave us satisfied . . . but still sort of craving a Snickers.

Trevor Fisher

Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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Comments (4)

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  1. Gouge says:

    Trevor – I saw Anthrax’s 1st Chicago reunion appearance last year and they did songs like “Belly” and “Family.”

    I think they are just trying to freshen up the setlist for this second leg in Chicago.

    Having not gone to this more recent gig, I’d be interested to know how full the HOB was.

  2. My full name is Graham Ferguson. I was backstage the whole time, I could only see Scott Ian and the crowd, so I can’t really comment on the show, except to say I enjoyed it very much from where I was! It’s my understanding that the show sold out 2 weeks before I even knew I was playing there, none of my friends could get tickets. It was so crowded I almost couldn’t get to the stage!

  3. Brian Smith says:

    Good Review Trevor!
    I felt the same way as Gouge.
    I think they were refreshing their setlist and “Parasite” (A great KISS song from Hotter Than Hell) did fit the set.That is one KISS song that Ace wrote that is Heavy Duty for that time era.I like what I have seen in the Caught In A Mosh section. Old School metal will never be forgotten because these types of bands created the machine gun style riffing. Love It or hate it. It is real. Anthrax Megadeth Metallica Slayer Exodus Overkill started something that can’t be killed ever!!. Also How come Heavy Metal arguments or disputes among band members are usually resolved. Hip Hop rappers always shoot and kill each other then go to jail like they deserve!! I have no reservations about saying that either!! Trevor keep up the good work!!
    I can’t realistically see Dave Roth killing Sammy Hagar!! They are both good frontmen!!

  4. Evan says:

    Scott Ian has his own video blog! Check it out! He has some pretty cool shows, all that he produced himself!

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