Anthrax are currently on the road with Slayer, and they took a quick break to play a benefit for cancer support group Gilda’s Club at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus last night (9/16). “It has to be the most intimate show we’ve played since the early ‘80s,” Joey Belladonna had said when the show was announced. And on stage last night Joey waited no more than one song (a cover of Dio-era Sabbath’s “Neon Knights”) to say how much like it felt like the old days. “So let’s do it like the old days,” he said, before launching into two songs off 1985’s Spreading the Disease, “A.I.R.” and “Aftershock.” It’s been a while since the band played that second one, as they said on stage, but they of course tore through it like it was just written yesterday. Anthrax are impossibly tight, their tones sounded amazing at Vitus last night, and they just can’t stop having fun. Frank Bello might be the most fun bassist to watch of all the veteran thrash giants. He does not stop smiling. (It’s quite a contrast to Anthrax’s current tourmates, the dead-serious Slayer. Which, by the way, Joey half-jokingly said something about it being nice to finally not play for a room of Slayer fans.)
Anthrax are currently supporting a new album, For All Kings, and in a live setting, those new songs fit right in with the classics. The crowd seemed just as into them too. I will admit that I thought an Anthrax show at a place as small as Saint Vitus would be a never-ending mosh pit shitshow, but the only time that really happened was when Joey encouraged it before Among the Living banger “Caught in a Mosh.” (Maybe because it was an older crowd.) Still, you could feel the high energy in the room all night. Fists were raised. Words were shouted. At one point the crowd interrupted Joey’s banter to start an “AN-THRAX” chant. The last time I saw Anthrax kill it was earlier this year when they opened for Lamb of God at Hammerstein Ballroom, but it’s of course a different feeling when 100% of the people around you are huge fans.
The small size of the venue and the band’s headliner status weren’t the only things setting this show apart from the rest of their current tour. They played a much different setlist too. We didn’t get the band’s usual covers “Got the Time” and “Antisocial,” but we got a few different treats. After crowd requests, they did their version of S.O.D.’s “March of the S.O.D.” before “Breathing Lightning” off the new album. And in addition to that opening Sabbath cover, we got takes on AC/DC’s “T.N.T.” and Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” “Who saw AC/DC the other night?,” Joey asked before playing “T.N.T.” “Pretty good, right?” Before “Comfortably Numb,” the band talked about how they had just done the cover at a SiriusXM radio session (acoustically) but never played it live. “If you saw that, you know what’s coming. The rest of you are in for a shock.”
Anthrax and Slayer’s tour hits Revolution Rock Fest in Connecticut today (9/17). Anthrax play at 1:30 PM and Slayer play at 7:50, followed immediately by Ghost. After that, Anthrax will head back to Saint Vitus to do another Gilda’s Club benefit tonight at midnight (so technically 9/18). That show is of course sold out. If you’re going, try Anthrax’s new brew of beer that Vitus has on tap (proceeds from that also go to Gilda’s Club). Scott Ian also mentioned on stage last night that they’ll do a proper headlining tour in the spring. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Night 2 happened.
Pictures from last night’s Vitus show, which Kyng opened, are in the gallery, as well as a few more Instagram pics/videos and the setlist.
UPDATE: unARTig shared a video of the full night 1 set:
Neon Knights (Black Sabbath cover)
Monster at the End
Caught In A Mosh
Belly of the Beast
T.N.T. (AC/DC cover)
March of the S.O.D. (S.O.D. cover)
Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd cover)
I’m the Man
photos by Gretchen Robinette