When the announcement came out that the legendary thrash metal veterans Anthrax were returning to Glasgow’s famous Barrowlands venue to play their album Among The Living in full, you could bet your ass I got a ticket day one.
The day seemed quite a quick one for a change. After suffering through the routinely tiresome four hour bus journey to Glasgow for the three hundredth time, the idea of queuing and rocking out to some of the best thrash metal albums was daunting. When we arrived at the venue roughly a hour and a half before opening time, there was a reasonably sized crowd already hanging around the venue.
For those that do not know, the Glasgow Barrowlands is a venue that is considered to be a national treasure of a venue and has one of the best floors for a metal crowd. The old beat up venue looks like a right dump from the inside and outside, but there is something about this place that can instantly take a show and make it an instant classic. Whether it is the old bouncing dance floor, the lack of a stable roof or the fact that it creates a great sweaty party environment, take your pick.
When the doors opened, the crowd naturally had to pass through metal detectors and suffered pat downs from the local security service. This activity seemed a bit questionable due to the fact that a lot of women were getting in without so much of a question, yet all the men I saw enter the venue had to be pulled aside in a bid to find some hidden weapon or bottle of booze. I can understand and appreciate the security’s attempt at being safe but from my experience in the job, most items are sneaked in by women, usually in places where men are not allowed to go.
Ranting aside, the Barrowlands hasn’t changed since our last venture into the building. A fantastic three hour show featuring the mighty Judas Priest and Michael Schenker. The crowd quickly packed into the venue, so much so that there was actually a decent crowd for the opening band, The Raven Age.
It didn’t take long for the band to hit the stage and to our surprise, the boys had the full PA system at their disposal. The Raven Age boasts a heavy more modern metal sound, one that was not to my particular taste but sounded good never the less. I enjoyed hearing an opening band with good sound for a change. Their set was well put together, it had good pacing and enough variety for it not to get stale.
As musicians, I thought these guys were quite good. Their drummer had a lot of power behind his playing. The fellow blasted those drums with a lot of personality and held a great groove, something that a lot of modern drummers can not do to save their life. The three guitar players had some great moments. I heard a lot of excellent riffs and got to witness a lot of tasteful guitar solos up close. The bands singer, now this fellow is a good front man. He interacted with the crowd and did a good job at keeping their attention. He did sing a few notes off key here and there but did a good job never the less.
Despite not being my personal cup of tea, The Raven Age are a good band and I would happily pay to see them play if they made an appearance in Aberdeen. Fans of Trivium and the likes will be right at home at one of their shows, and I do recommend checking them out.
To the bands credit, the crowd were absolutely buzzing when the stage was being built for Anthrax. In typical show tradition, this took around twenty to thirty minutes with the crowd being overly amused by the great choice of songs on the PA system.
The lights dipped and on came Anthrax as their opening tape Impaled played over the sound system. They jumped straight into their classics A.I.R. and Madhouse. It was clear from the get go that the band were firing on all cylinders and were up for a good time. Anthrax sounded absolutely fantastic as they blasted their way through Evil Twin, Medusa, Blood Eagle Wings and Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t. The sound was extremely loud but clear enough for us to hear everything that was going on. Joey Belladonna’s voice was in top form. The man was singing like it was 1986 hitting every note with pin point precision and did a great job interacting with the crowd. The bands new axeman, Jonathan Donais of Shadows Fall played some beautiful guitar playing. The dual guitar work between Ian and Donais was heavy and brutal in all the right places. But it was his soloing that stole the show in my opinion. This fellows guitar playing was absolutely top notch and the tone was buttery smooth.
After eight songs, Anthrax left the stage, the lights went up and the crew came on to switch the stage around. The simple backdrops were removed and replaced with some heavy metal stairs, ramps and a walk way. This was a clear throw back to the bands ’80s hey day and it looked quite nice in a simple sort of way, back in the days when bands gave a damn about their appearance. As a crowd member put it at the end of the show, “that was totally ’80s as fuck.”
In typical Anthrax style, the venue went into complete darkness and I Can’t Turn You Loose by the Blues Brothers blared over the speaker system. This turned every serious looking metal head into a dancing loonie, totally worth it if I do say so. The following set of songs was the advertised playing of the classic album, Among The Living in full. We were treated to energetic renditions of Among The Living, Caught In A Mosh, Skeletons In The Closet, I Am The Law as well as the more obscure numbers One World, A.D.I./Horror of It All etc. All the songs were great fun to hear. You would never think that the album was thirty years hold hearing it in concert. Much like the previous set, the band played their songs with a great heavy sound, lots of energy and a little extra aggression.
It was clear that fans were having an absolute blast. The front few rows were head banging and fist pumping, there was a great mosh pit a little further back and there were a great number of crowd surfers, possibly the most crowd surfers I have ever seen in the first two songs of a set. The band finished up their show with Indians and Imitation of Life. A nasty one two ‘war dance’ combo that nearly killed half of the people in the crowd.
At the end of the show, the crowd were treated to the excellent sing a long Anti-Social, a song that I am pretty sure Trust regret writing. Not once have the band received any credit for recording this song and I’m pretty sure that most of the audience do not even know that it is a cover version. Not like anyone cares. The light went up, the band said thank you and threw out dozens of guitar picks, set lists, drum sticks and so on. A lot of people went home happy and I really can’t blame them.
This was my first Anthrax concert since their ill fated reunion tour and their 2002 tour with Motörhead many moons ago. I have to give the band credit for the simple fact that they blew both those shows out of the water. It may have been ten years ago but Anthrax were excellent. The group came across a lot tighter and a lot more focused with Joey being a lot happier this time round and the edition of Donais who provides the band with some extra talent and skill. It is great to see at their age that they still have the energy to do what they do and I hope that there will be enough time in their career for another Glasgow show ten years down the line. (Hopefully they come back before then.)