Caught In A Romantic Mosh
A candlelit dinner with Anthrax as they perform Among The Living in full
Words: Phil Weller
Anthrax have always been one of the most entertaining live bands around. Metallica may have always been the giants of thrash, Megadeth the shred masters and Slayer…well, they’re Slayer. But Anthrax have always been the most unashamedly fun; all about the rhythms and the grooves with Scott Ian and Joey Belladonna delivering their music with infectious, beaming smiles. Tonight is no different and they turn a packed out Academy 1 into a party, the joyous atmosphere tangible in the air.
They play two sets tonight, the first a crash course in punk-addled hammerblows and pneumatic drumming, Belladonna stalking the stage like a thrash Freddie Mercury. As they smash through the zombie pummelling Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t and State Of Euphoria’s Be All, End All, the crowd roaring the intro back at the band like an evil, Tibetan chant, they sound ferocious, potent. Tighter than a corset on Pavarotti they are simply on fire, the audience lapping everything up, the front portions of the crowd swaying like a surging sea.
"As Caught In A Mosh erupts, the crowd splits and goes ballistic, my pint bites the dust."
After a short break, which saw punters descending on the smoking area like bargain hunters to Argos on Black Friday, the band return for the plat principal. When Among The Living was released in 1987, the United States of America had an actor as its President and leader. In 2017, while the band traipse the globe to play the record in its entirety, their country is lead by at TV host, a cartoon character. And so, as the title track’s first eerie notes ring out – causing a max exodus of the smoking area – the same surreal, slightly dystopian vibes instantly return. But for all the creepy and, let’s be honest, disheartening parallels between then and now, when the riffs drop and the band kick out of the jams, that all seems to melt away. Power may suck, but Anthrax do not and the power and the fury with which they smash through their seminal record is beyond commendable.
As Caught In A Mosh erupts, this scribe has only just made it from the bar to the front line and the madness of the battle was wholly underestimated. The crowd splits and goes ballistic, my pint bites the dust.
"Tighter than a corset on Pavarotti they are simply on fire tonight."
Always considered part of the exclusive ‘Thrash 4’ club, the New York band have always been on the outskirts of that club, geographically and notoriety wise. But Anthrax are the most faithful to the genre’s punk roots, the grinding madness of Efilnekufesin (N.F.L), tonight brimming with a revitalised energy, is proof positive of that.
The Stephen King inspired A Skeleton In The Closet and the war dance of Indians understandably go down a storm tonight, like the guy who brings a keg to a house party close to running dry. Those songs, though, have been pillars of the band’s sets over the last 30 years and so it is the deeper cuts of the record, such as the twin harmony crossfire of One World, which are the greatest treat tonight. Anthrax are the perfect Valentines.