Celebrating their 40th anniversary, Anthrax with special guests Black Label Society and Exodus, continue to crisscross the US to bring metal to the masses one city at a time. On Sunday, February 5, the tour stopped in Boston at the House Blues, just across the street from the city’s beloved Fenway Park. The three bands’ fans packed the venue for yet another sold-out show. Each band was evenly represented by the men, women and children donning the respective bands’ colorful concert t-shirts, hats and even tattoos. With an early start time, each band played an abbreviated set that was all thriller and no filler.
California’s Exodus wasted no time warming up the crowd with their pioneering and grizzled thrash metal extravaganza. Led by vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza, the band tore through their set at a blistering pace, only to take a few short breathers to acknowledge the crowd and their fans’ support. Souza, flanked by guitarists Gary Holt to his left and Lee Altis to his right, along with Jack Gibson on bass and Tom Hunting on drums, delivered the goods with plenty of muscle. Fans devoured the set which included “Blacklist”, “Pirahna”, “The Toxic Waltz” and “Strike of the Beast”. Souza and Company clearly relished their time on stage and did not hold back on thanking the crowd every chance they had.
Zakk Wylde, who has had plenty of time to refine not only his art, but also his ability to refine his live performances after years of working with Ozzy Osbourne and his own bands like Pride and Glory and Black Label Society, took advantage of every minute that he and BLS had on stage with a well-balanced and ultimately explosive set. As the band’s curtain dropped, BLS wasted no time by tearing into the blistering “Funeral Bell” and other bone crunchers such as “The Beginning” and “Destruction Overdrive”. As Zakk manned the helm, Jeff Fabb kept the train rollin’ with his pummeling double-bass drum blasts, while John “J.D.” DeServo devilishly meandered around the stage with a devilish grin. Dario Lorina’s impeccable rhythm chops and flashy fills weaved themselves in and out of Wylde’s frenetic, wah-laden solos. Halfway through the set BLS took their fans on an emotional roller coaster with Zakk’s tribute to his late friends Dimebag Darrel and brother Vinnie Paul with “In This River”. Though a staple in BLS’ set, the night wouldn’t be complete without it.
The edgy and grinding “Trampled Down Below” and frenzied “Set You Free” followed. Both were apparent crowd-pleasers, providing additional motivation for a continued stream of crowd surfers to get their ya-yas out. “Fire It Up” upped the ante and helped serve up a showcase for a scorching guitar solo, which found Wylde standing center stage on his riser and, like a true god of thunder, holding his axe above his head – drawing much adulation from his fans. “Suicide Messiah” and the bludgeoning “Stillborn” brought the blistering set to its end. Wylde celebrated by beating his chest with both hands and pointing to the heavens. Whether with BLS, Ozzy, Pride and Glory or Zakk Sabbath – Wylde had once again impressed and could claim the that he and the band came, saw and conquered!
Last to hit the stage was Anthrax, which featured Scott Ian (rhythm guitar), Charlie Benante (drums), Frank Bello (bass), Joey Belladonna (vocals), and Jonathan Donais (lead guitar). Their set began with a video projected onto a solid white curtain in front of the stage. The presentation was filled with tributes and testimonials from their friends and collaborators from years past, including Chuck D., Corey Taylor, Vernon Reid and more. At the conclusion of the video, the silhouettes of each band member could be made out, driving the crowd insane with anticipation.
As the curtain fell to the stage, the band was bathed in red light as they cranked out “Among the Living”. “Mosh” and “Madhouse” followed. The smiles on Belladonna’s Ian’s faces were priceless. The band appeared to be just as happy as those on the floor in front of the barricade. Ian greeted the fans before he and the band dug back into the set with “Family” and a cover Of Trust’s “Antisocial”, which Anthrax skillfully and successfully truly made their own. The set continued on its unrelenting path, fueling the fire with “Law”, where Belladonna’s vocals sounded stronger than ever.
The set was nearing its end with the Joe Jackson cover “Got the Time”. Benante was spot on, never missing a beat as he drove the bus with his combustible drumming. Ian and Donais were dialed with their well-orchestrated riffing as Bello somehow managed to wrangle his bass while stomping and screaming across every square inch of the stage and scaffolding. “Bring the Noise” brought it and more! The only thing that could have topped it, was if Public Enemy made a surprise appearance. Belladonna appeared in a Native American headdress and riled up the crowd for the finale of “Indians”, leaving a scorched path behind him as he diabolically ran around the stage, down the access ramp and greeted fans along the sides of the stage. Ian was spotted wishing a fan happy birthday and tossing his signature guitar picks to and fro.
Overall, the three bands kicked ass and took names from start to finish. To witness the thrash metal pioneers Exodus, the incredibly entertaining Zakk Wylde with BLS and one of the Big Four, the eclectic metal gurus Anthrax in one night was truly a spectacle for one and all. Collectively, their music has inspired countless other musicians and they’re not even close to being done.