Anthrax – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 9th February 2017

Tonight was the first night of Anthrax’s UK “Among the kings” tour.  The tour features Anthrax playing two sets, one of which is them playing the entire “Among the living” album in full and in order, with the other set being voted on by fans online.

Before Anthrax though it was time for the opening act, British band The Raven Age.  I’ve seen them play a couple of times before so was expecting them to be good, but tonight they exceeded anything I’d seen from them before and really put in a great performance.  Being more of a melodic metal band rather than a thrash band they are a slightly odd choice to open for Anthrax but they don’t let that bother them and go all out to impress.  There’s plenty of power in the music which is essential when supporting someone like Anthrax, and Michael Burrough on vocals has a great voice and does a great job as frontman.  After the show I noticed a number of people buying their EP, so they clearly won some of the audience over.  After tonight’s show I’m looking forward to hearing their upcoming album when it’s released next month.

After a short break it was time for Anthrax.  As Among the living was the first Anthrax album I bought (way back when it was first released) then tonight was a night I was really looking forward to, but before they got to that album they kicked off with a set of other songs.  Opening with “A.I.R” and “Madhouse” was one hell of a start to the night, and clearly the crowd agreed – those who weren’t shouting and cheering or headbanging were crowd-surfing, with the first crowdsurfers coming over the top during the first song.
Anthrax are metal legends – one of the Big 4 with decades of experience and so it’s hardly surprsing that musically everything is flawless.  What sets Anthrax above many of their peers in my view is the sheer energy and enjoyment coming from them – they’ve not lost any of the passion for it that many bands lose.  In between singing, Joey Belladonna is busy hyping up the crowd, throwing out guitar picks and generally making sure everyone is involved and having fun.  Frank Bello is constantly on the move, while newest member, Jon Donais tends to stay back in the shadows.  Scott Ian is quite talkative tonight, addressing the crowd several times during the show, particularly during the second set where he talks about a few of the songs.

While the first set was good, the second set took things up to a whole new level.  The short break between sets not only allowed time for some stage layout changes and a rest for the band, it seemed to allow time for the audience to recharge their batteries, and right from the start of the set – opening with the title track, Among the living, the crowd were singing along.  From my position near the front it was hard to tell at times which was louder – the band or the crowd.

This was a truly amazing gig – the band were in top form, they were playing some of my favourite songs, and the atmosphere was fantastic with a great crowd.  This may have been the opening night of the tour but it set the bar high for crowds around the country to do better.  A fantastic night.


Set 1

Evil Twin
Blood Eagle Wings
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
Breathing Lightning
Be All, End All

Set 2 – Among the living

Among the Living
Caught in a Mosh
I Am the Law
Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
A Skeleton in the Closet
One World
A.D.I. / Horror of It All
Imitation of Life

I’m the Man

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.