I went to check out Anthrax at the beautiful Sherman Theater in charming Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania this past Saturday. I love the Sherman Theater because when they restored the building, the owners made sure to really focus on acoustics and sightlines. The result is an 1800-person venue that is exemplary for music events and offers fans a decent view no matter where they might be in the house.
It’s been a few years since I last caught Anthrax live, it was actually at their Among The Living anniversary tour where I thought the band sounded great, but ironically, I was stuck in the oversold Theatre of the Living Arts in Philadelphia, which seems to have that problem rather routinely. I’m puzzled as to why the decent venues in Philly like The Trocadero and Union Transfer aren’t getting some of the better acts these days, but that’s another article for another day.
Anthrax, of course, continues to inspire and show that they’re masters of their craft. Overall, this was another flawless performance with profound intensity from everyone in the band. Joey Belladonna sounds as good as he ever did and was unafraid to stretch his vocal range to really hit the highs. Scott Ian, again, shows the metal world how its done once you take the stage. While Ian can instigate a myriad of controversy on social media, he is clearly all business as a live musician. No nonsense banter from him on the mic – just intensity and flawless delivery of the crushing rhythm work from all the Anthrax classics.
With a largely “best of” setlist, the band poured through their back catalog and got the sold out (yet comfortable) crowd pumped with “Among the Living,” “Caught in a Mosh,” and Frank Bello’s favorite, “Got the Time.” Those three, in that order, are worth the price of admission alone. But wait – there’s more…
The guys went on to incorporate old-school faves “Medusa” and “Madhouse” along with “Belly of the Beast” and the rarely heard “Be All, End All” which ran into “Antisocial.” Belladonna sported his vintage State of Euphoria style hat during these tracks but unfortunately there was no N.O.T. man running around to reveal himself as Ozzy Osbourne (I was waiting). And if you don’t know what I’m talking about here… 1. MTV used to actually play music videos when I was a kid 2. Anthrax made a video for “Antisocial” that was actually played on MTV during the day and 3. Don’t bother tuning in to MTV now to hope to see this. In fact, don’t bother tuning into MTV ever… for anything.
Anthrax did play “Breathing Lightning” from their newest record (which is a winner btw) For All Kings and they dedicated it to old friend Joey Z of Life of Agony who was in the house. “Breathing Lightning” is merely one of the many brilliant tracks on the latest record, but it this tour is largely a celebration of Anthrax’s history and introducing their classic thrash sound to the newer Killswitch Engage fans they’re performing in front of every night. The band also played “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t” which is another one of the band’s newer releases that brought them back closer to their classic 80’s thrash sound.
One of the things I love about watching Anthrax perform is the joy on Frank Bello’s face. Bello has already been an incredible bassist for decades and is vastly underrated. He’s having the time of his life every show and his good-natured enthusiasm is clearly contagious. The rest of the band feeds off of him and when he, Charlie and Scott are in sync, there’s no stopping these guys.
All in all, another great Anthrax show. This has gotten me even more pumped (if you can imagine this) for the Slayer, Anthrax, Behemoth, etc. tour coming back to PA in June. Some many great bands on one ticket. In the meantime, if you see the current Killthrax tour coming to your town – a. go see it b. get your tickets early because these shows are selling out and I encountered one more than sad fan outside the venue trying to come up with a ticket to get in. Avoid the sadness and buy tickets in advance.