Anthrax @ Starland Ballroom (6/3/2005)

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Artist: Anthrax
Venue: Starland Ballroom – NJ
Opener: unsigned band
Label: Sanctuary Records
Date: 6/3/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal

Reunion Shows. The premise almost seems to lose its special sense when find yourself hearing about reunion after reunion of bands that had little or no impact on music or get faced with an astronomical fee to see such a performance. In any event none of these scenarios would be the case tonight. For this evening, on a rainy June night the 1985 lineup of Anthrax, quite possibly the most influential Thrash Metal bands in Heavy Metal history would take to the stage once more. Yes, you are reading this correctly as once again would Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Frankie Bello, Dan Spitz and Joey Belladonna be joined as one unit to pull out all of the stops for their ardent fans. Starland Ballroom would be the place for the show, and I have continually enjoyed attending gigs at this venue. There are so many places to potentially stand and get a great visual of the bands and the sound system always seems good to me. I feel this would not have worked in Roseland Ballroom for it’s difficult to see if you are not immediate front. This event was sold out almost immediately and honestly that is a nice show of support of these guys from New York. I got myself a good position which was tough due to the capacity crowd and from this vantage point I got to safely review the activity from the ever swelling mosh pit. I briefly was able to catch up with Jack Frost of Seven Witches and D.D. Verni of Overkill. These guys were milling about and checking in with their friends and fans as everyone got set to witness a killer set by Anthrax. This show would be the first official performance of the tour and they would also be filming it for a soon to be released DVD. As a result everyone in the club was now taking part in something twice as historic. In front of the stage the screen had an image saying “welcome to the idiot convention”. Clearly Anthrax had not lost an ounce of their sense of humor in the twelve years that this lineup had been together.

Radio personality Eddie Trunk kicked the crowd into high gear when he announced them and how great it was to see this response. An excellent documentary about this stage of the band’s life was shown before they came on and some appeared to be from the VH1 “Behind The Music” special but I was not focusing on that as intently as I was the surroundings. When the documentary played “Caught In A Mosh” the entire crowd was singing along. Very impressive and you know the band must have heard them from backstage. Suddenly the intro theme began (which is a Blues Brothers intro piece they used in the past) and then the lightning began inside the venue (not from the storm outside of course I am speaking in metaphors for a change). Joey Belladonna belting out the notes of “Among The Living” once again was an excellent experience for while I enjoyed some material John Bush did with the band his voice was not working on a lot of the older material. Danny Spitz and Frankie Bello seemed to be having a dual over who was most excited to be playing with Scott and Charlie once again, it was thoroughly exciting all around. Holding all the excitement in check (or trying to) was left to Charlie who remains one of my very favorite drummers in Metal of all time. He was playing a beautiful Tama kit and the sound from these things was killer. There was only one glitch in Danny’s guitar rig very early on but it was quickly rectified. Both Scott and Frankie sounded great, as Franks bass crunched through the smoky air. His tech clearly making sure the metal was ready that evening.

Joey frequently stopped to mention how special it was to be back with the band playing for the fans, and many people who have dealt with him since he left and did solo work can attest to his being very accommodating to his fans. As I watched Scott Ian, I had to say that I have not seen him this happy playing in a long time. He was almost feeding off the hunger and energy from the audience. Periodically he would kid around and at one point began “Strutter” by KISS. He told the crowd that they now owed Gene Simmons a dollar. They also began some Iron Maiden riff and Scott looked mystified telling the guys that he did not know the song so they could not continue along. It was funny to see the band taking this seriously but also having a grand time. As you can perhaps expect, the mosh pit was in full swing since almost the first chord of the guitar was hit. It was so intense that the photographers were only allowed to shoot for the first one and a half songs. Don’t worry, we got some good ones and I think you will enjoy them.

Regarding the set list it was by no means short. As a matter of fact the time ran close to two hours and seemed to include something for everyone in it. I did see a list for one of the warm-up shows (or at least it seemed like this was the case) and was sad to not see a couple of those numbers in the set. Among those were “Armed And Dangerous” – which is one of my very favorites and “Gung Ho for Charlie Benante’s killer bass drum work. I still think I had one of the best times in recent memory. At the end of the show guitar picks were tossed like it was the last night of a two-year tour. Scott Ian was literally tossing full hands of them into the crowd. The audience in a shark-like frenzy to catch one. Of course I was on the opposite side so did not get one. Oh well, maybe next time. The band is off to Europe after this performance and then is set to return for a mess of shows in the USA. I have to stress that any fans of this style of Metal should get themselves a ticket and get to see how it all began with this legendary metal band.

Set List:
1. Among The Living
2. Got The Time
3. Caught In A Mosh
4. A.I.R.
5. Madhouse
6. Anti-Social
7. Lone Justice
8. N.F.L.
9. Deathrider
10. Medusa
11. In My World
12. Indians
13. Time
14. Metal Thrashing Mad
15. I’m The Man
16. State Of Euphoria
17. I Am The Law

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