Anthrax, Marquee Theatre, 3/24/13
Maria Vassett Anthrax performing at the Marquee Theatre in 2012.
Anthrax @ Marquee Theatre|3/24/13
There are few things more exciting than being present for the start of a legendary thrash band's tour, when they are fresh, energetic, and have a brand-new set list. Metalheads in Tempe had that glorious opportunity Sunday night, when the Metal Alliance Tour came through town on its third night, playing host to metal youngsters Holy Grail, jubilant thrashers Municipal Waste, sludge masters High on Fire, heavy legends Exodus, and headliners Anthrax.
It's no secret Anthrax have been crazy-busy over the past two years, between Big Four shows, the release of an excellent album, Worship Music (2011), touring in 2012, and Scott Ian's "Blood & Guts" web series. Then, last week they released the covers EP Anthem and embarked on the Metal Alliance Tour. To top it off, the band's working on a new album slated for release in late 2013 or early 2014.
Despite the constant activity, you'd never be able to accuse the band of being worn out, at least not on the stage Sunday night. What made this show extra special is its setlist, which finds Anthrax is playing its 1987 masterpiece Among the Living in its entirety. Start to finish. Also (coincidence or not), March 22, the tour's kick-off date, marked 26 years to the day that Among the Living was released back in 1987.
At 9:30 p.m. the intro to Worship Music played over the P.A. as the fans, foaming at the mouth, chanted: ANTHRAX-ANTHRAX-ANTHRAX.
Scott Ian was the first to walk on stage amid smoke, pulsating red lights, and Charlie Benante's beautiful drum kit. He began playing the opening chords of "Among the Living" and the mosh pit erupted immediately. "Caught in a Mosh" and "I Am the Law" were the perfect tracks to follow with, prompting more devil horns and fist horns than I've ever seen (including the Big Four show). The fans were appreciative of the band from start to finish, and vice versa. In between every couple songs, Belladonna thanked the crowd for all their support since Among the Living was released.
Since I was expecting only Among the Living tracks and some songs from Anthems, I was pleasantly surprised when the band played a few songs from their extensive catalog after "A Skeleton in the Closet." The beloved "In the End" caused the crowd to simmer down a bit in respect, while a large photo of Ronnie James Dio and one of Dimebag Darrell appeared on opposite sides of the stage. A small acoustic break by stand-in guitarist Jonathan Donias kicked off a crunchy cover of AC/DC's "T.N.T" ensued, which the crowd went nuts for.