ANTHRAX at Manchester Academy – 14 February 2017
Review by Dale Unsworth || Photos by Christopher James Ryan
“An Evening with Anthrax” is more than enough to make this one of the most anticipated concerts of the first quarter of 2017, but the New York thrashers celebrate the 30th anniversary of arguably one of the most important thrash metal albums of all time, Among the Living.
Anthrax rushes on to the stage to “A.I.R.,” the opening track from Spreading the Disease, and begins their relentless assault on the audience and taking very few opportunities to slow down before continuing to one of the most notable songs of Anthrax’s career, “Madhouse,” a chugging monolith with a chorus that every self-respecting Thrash fan on the planet should know.
With a new album being regarded by many as one of the best offerings from The Big Four in years, it would be a crime to leave them out of the set, in particular would be the almost 8-minute-long anthem, “Blood Eagle Wings,” and soon to be fan favourite “Breathing Lightning” which closed the first set.
While the first set still contained songs that progressed at impeccable speeds it is clear that the focal point of the set was on songs with big, almost arena rock style choruses which may deter hardcore thrash fans, but the second set devoted entirely to Among the Living would appease those attending for pure thrash.
The lights go down for the second set and all that can be heard is the theme from The Blues Brothers complete with a monologue from Dan Aykroyd ‘Elwood Blues,’ an unusual choice but makes a point to establish the tone of the second set, which is helping keep our beloved music scene alive after decades pass.
Once the lights go back up the first few notes of “Among the Living” are heard, the lights flash red and smoke machines bellow from behind the drum set and the newly constructed stage and the band returns to thunderous applause.
They continue with the legendary title track, and despite being half way through a two-hour show, Anthrax show absolutely no signs of slowing down or running low on energy as does the crowd.
The set continues with another undisputed classic, “Caught in a Mosh,” by this point half of the room is consumed by a mosh pit that would make even the most seasoned veterans think twice before braving “the idiot convention” and a perfect representation of Anthrax.
The interesting thing to note about the “Among” set is that the album was played out of sequence to help add some surprise to people that already know the album order, where “I Am the Law” should have been “One World” was played instead, “Indians” came much later in the set and is easily one of the highlights of the night.
Starting out with a call and response drum beat from Charlie Benante before Scott Ian and company return to deliver the iconic riffs that make this song a classic, leading up to the “war dance” to which the crowd responds by losing its collective mind.
Ending with “Antisocial,” Anthrax proves that they are a band that have completely justified their status as Thrash Metal legends despite being one of the lesser appreciated bands in The Big Four and as one of the best live acts in the metal scene.