In the past few years, Anthrax has had such a great run with the return of vocalist Joey Belladonna. Two outstanding albums in ‘Worship Music’ and ‘For All Kings’. They have proved age is but a number, blowing minds and ears off of the World with a thirst and energy that I can only imagine it was like back in the 1980’s. Something that in particular was being celebrated tonight with the 30th anniversary of the seminal release, ‘Among the Living’ with the tour ‘Among the Kings’. Back in the days of that release, I was a mere two years old, always having a feeling I was born too late for the stuff I truly love, now was my chance to slip back in time and witness something that I until now, only dreamt of, as I am sure a good part of the crowd (and the support band) may have too.
Opening the night up was The Raven Age, a five piece of young, energetic guys with a real passion for playing live. They have been busting their ass doing everything off their own backs for the past 8 years, and despite having some great connections, they prove why they have gained every bit of credit they are due and then some. It takes very little of their show to demonstrate their worth getting on this tour, and they leave no moment unloved during their time on stage. With only an EP out in the past, they hasn’t stopped them gaining a massive, loyal fan base, and they make their presence know while they claim more as the crowd grows in size. Epic sized songs are perfectly matched by each members enjoyment of playing, and with their debut album ‘Darkness Will Rise’ due out March 17th, they are sure to make the most of every show and come back soon enough.
Despite being the only support, they seem to make the time fly past and have the crowd wanting more, a band worth making sure you get in as doors open for sure, but they are more than happy to make way for the legends celebrating an albums legacy that is as old as the band themselves. Soon after, Anthrax take to the stage and waste no time getting down to business. A blend of fan favourites from the golden days and the two last albums have the place exploding, the excitement and movement on stage is almost as exhausting to watch as it is to do yourself, with all on quite possibly their best form since the return of Belladonna. Opening with classics ‘A.I.R.’, ‘Madhouse’, and flowing into newer tracks later in the set such as ‘Blood Eagled Wing’, ‘Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t’, the age between the tracks feels non existent. Sounding absolutely perfect, each song is hammered out of the park time and time again. The machine of a man hidden behind the kit Charlie Benante rains down like hellfire on the skins, quite simply one of the finest live drummers you could care to witness. Joey is singing as sweetly as ever, Scott is war dancing all over with that devilish grin while Frank Bello is fist pumping every five minutes and hammering down on his bass like a true workman with his tools, and while Jon Donais may not move as much on the stage as the rest of the band, his unbelievable accuracy to nail each lead part while remaining a consistent windmill of hair is something to behold, he really knows how to make a guitar scream.
By the time they have smashed their way through the first set list, a quick change of the set brings us to the year 1987 with an amazing run through their impressive classic, ‘Among the Living’ not as much a must have album in any thrash fans collection, but more a right of passage into becoming a true thrash fan. The energy picks up so much more as the fans young and old make themselves heard over the band. A few thankful words are shared from the band when it comes to playing ‘Skeleton in the Closet’ and what it means to them, a band that shows its true worth and gratitude to the fans. It feels like the near two hours they play is a flash in the pan, but even after hearing album closer ‘Imitation of Life’, the band still aren’t done. A final farewell from the band with a one song encore to send us all on our way homes brimming with ‘Antisocial’. Quite potentially, already the gig of the year.
If you have the time this week, I implore you to quite seriously, make the effort to get a ticket and get yourself to a show while you can. Get yourself a breath of 1987, it’ll be a night you won’t forget!