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It has been over four decades in the making and eleven studio albums in the making, but Anthrax finally descended on O2 Newcastle City Hall on the UK leg of their fortieth anniversary tour.
With support from New York metal bands Sworn Enemy and Municipal Waste, Newcastle's metal community was in for a treat. Sworn Enemy kicked off proceedings with a hard and heavy set that really wetted the crowd's appetite. Giving an outstanding performance, Sworn Enemy definitely made some new friends in Newcastle.
A short break and a quick set change and it was back to neck-breaking headbanging as Municipal Waste took their place in the North East spotlight. Municipal Waste played a set that rivals any metal band in terms of heaviness and speed. They had people crowd surfing in their droves. The security was plentiful, but they had their work cut out for them as fan after fan rode the crowd wave to the front.
Municipal Waste and Sworn Enemy are testaments to my philosophy that you should always check out the support acts. Sometimes you strike gold, and this was definitely one of those times. As City Hall took a quick breather, the road crew were working hard behind a giant silk curtain to get the stage ready for the main event.
The house lights went down and the huge curtain that shrouded the stage became a giant cinema screen. With a big screen comes big names. The likes of Lady Gaga, Gary Holt, Philip H Anselmo, Slash, Dave Mustaine, Chuck D and many more music industry legends paid tribute to the band. The crowd cheered as each one appeared on the screen. The film ended and the atmosphere was buzzing. The entire hall erupted when the band members' silouhettes appeared, and as quick as a flash, the curtain fell to reveal the legends that are Anthrax.
The band have spent the best part of their forty-year career championing not just thrash and heavy metal , but other genres such as rap with their collaboration with Public Enemy on 'Bring The Noise', and the lads haven't stopped innovating since. As one of the Big Four, alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, Anthrax certainly have nothing to prove, but that hasn't stopped them putting their heart and soul into giving their fans a show to remember.
Getting off to a strong start with 'Among The Living', Anthrax was full of energy and it showed. It was clear that they were here to rock the place. They played a classic set including heavy hitters like "Mad House" and "Keep It In The Family". In our recent interview with Charlie Benante, he said, "You know, it’s hard to play your 40 years in an hour and a half set or whatever it is, but um, we try. We really try to play the favourites but also try to play some deeper cuts. So the people who are coming to hear those favourites but also really want to hear a song like “Keep It In The Family”, which we haven’t played in forever, you know, we put that back in the set and we really enjoy playing those old songs. And we put a new kind of twist on them too, you know.".
There was no stopping the masters of metal as they made every track as hard-hitting and heavy as the crowd expected. There was plenty of crowd interaction, with vocalist Joey Belladonna making sure he made eye contact with as many fans as he could, even brushing off a minor incident with a flying pint of beer. A true professional, and his voice was on point.
Scott Ian reflected on the band's history with Newcastle, reminiscing about their performance in the early 80's at the now demolished Mayfair club. He was talking about playing "I Am The Law" at the legendary venue before breaking into the track, which obviously got the crowd going wild. The guitarist later took to the microphone again to make it clear that they were there to rock and to make sure that the crowd were going to rock with them. Talking specifically to the balcony, Scott told them in no uncertain terms to "Get off their asses," which they did for the remainder of the show.
At one point, a member of the crew popped out from behind the drum kit and handed a bag of ice to drummer Charlie Benante, who held it against his face. In an Instagram post after the show, Charlie said, "Most drummers know the feeling of hitting yourselves with a stick: tonight I came pretty close to knocking my eye out. #occupational hazard". Luckily, he seems to have made a full recovery.
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