15 March 2012

Islington Academy, London


The Islington Academy had been sold out for some time in advance and was packed solid by the time we made our way in.Anthrax’s revolving door for the vocalist roll has been well documented and when it finally came to rest it was Joey Belladonna who was back to take the microphone and put down his vocals on last year’s Worship Music.Had that been a stinker then things could have been very difficult for Anthrax, but it was far from that, heralding praise and, it would seem judging tonight, a rebirth of sorts for the band.


Tonight’s show was being filmed for a DVD release and there was a lot of onstage tweaking from the bands roadies as the 9pm stage time came and wait.Fortunately we weren’t in for too long a wait, as just 10 minutes late, the house lights dropped, the Worship intro started and the stage was bathed in blue light.Charlie Benante took his seat behind his kit and raised a fist in the air to acknowledge the loud and expectant crowd.


Anthrax  Anthrax  Anthrax




Opening with two new tracks in Earth On Hell and Fight 'Em Till You Can't, the sound was instantly pretty good and the band appeared psyched up for the show.The Islington Academy does not have the biggest of stages and as a result there was little room for roaming like in the band’s older days.However, with our view looking down on the band from above, I kept getting recollections of the 1986 US Speed Metal Attack VHS that the band appeared on with Overkill and Agent Steel, which saw a hungry young band giving their all on a tight stage.


It’s 25 years this year since I first saw the band on the Among The Living tour and it was a classic from that album up next.A spotlight picked out Scott Ian as he chugged away at the opening riff of Caught In A Mosh.As the song kicked in the crowd downstairs went nuts as strobe lights blinded us.


Joey Belladonna took time to tell the crowd about the DVD, noting that “You are part of the show.”Leading the crowd in a “Woah-oh!” sing-along, it was Antisocial next with Frank Bello somehow finding some space to dart around the stage.


Back to the new album with latest video The Devil You Know led us to an excellent rendition of I’m Alive.As Joey took the spotlight to announce the next song, a spontaneous chant of his name broke out which clearly touched the frontman.Asking us, “Do you guys wanna get a war dance going out there?” three times, stoked up the crowd for the inevitable Indians.At this point Belladonna took one of the cameras filming the show, which should lead to some intimate shots when the DVD is released.


Another great song from Worship Music, In The End, was so well received it led Belladonna to exclaim “I’m speechless!”At this point having seen recent setlists I was expecting Got The Time.However, for once, thankfully in my opinion, the obvious was dropped and Anthrax went back to track one, album one for Deathrider.If that wasn’t enough of a surprise next up was Belly Of The Beast from 1990’s Persistence Of Time.Obviously not something the band has played often recently judging by the quite loose rendition, but good to hear all the same.


Checking for new guys and old school guys, Scott gave a shout out to anyone who had been at the band’s debut UK in 1986 at the Hammersmith Palais and noted how the UK had been good to the band throughout their existence.Medusa reminded us of those early days before a brutal Among The Living thundered around the venue.


Anthrax had another surprise up their sleeve as the familiar refrain of Be All, End All started and it was great to hear the band mining their back catalogue.Scott was clearly enjoying this one, breaking out into his familiar circling stomp.


Anthrax  Anthrax  Anthrax



Into the final straight and the expected Madhouse lived up to its name in terms of crowd response before the pit was sent Metal Thrashing Mad.We were then teased by a partial playing of I’m The Man which morphed into closing song I Am The Law.


On tonight’s showing Anthrax are back firing on all cylinders and if they can keep things fresh like tonight’s show then there’s plenty life in them yet.


Anthrax setlist:

Worship (Intro) / Earth On Hell / Fight 'Em Till You Can't / Caught In A Mosh / Antisocial / The Devil You Know / I'm Alive / Indians / Hymn 1 (Intro) / In The End / Deathrider / Belly Of The Beast / Medusa / Among The Living / Be All, End All / Madhouse / Metal Thrashing Mad / I'm The Man (snippet) / I Am the Law