MOTÖRHEAD And ANTHRAX - Metal Thrashing Mad In Philly

September 27, 2015, 2 years ago

Mark Gromen

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Attending a show at the Tower Theater, pre-gaming, at the Waterford Bar is a must, although there's a makeshift "bar” downstairs, in the venue's men’s' room, offering $8 shot & a beer! The dark oak paneled throwback establishment still admits 18 year olds and allows smoking! Actually heard someone admit, "Never seen Anthrax, nor Motörhead, so this show lets me witness both." Really? Call yourself a metalhead and in the past 30 years you've never had a previous occasion/opportunity to witness either? Poser!

Second time seeing Anthrax, in four days, both of us having attended the initial Food Truck & Rock Carnival, the previous weekend. While the Philly set was slightly different, the energy level was frenetic at both events. Opening with the appropriately entitled “Madhouse”, Joey Belladonna scurried from one end of the stage, to the other, looking for a joint (pantomiming a puff, as he put fingers to his mouth). Awfully aggressive, for a pot smoker! Sort of expected a few barricade invaders, as I shot photos (especially since Motörhead frowns on the practice), but surprisingly, there weren't any, even with “Caught In The Mosh” next. With lights shooting across the stage, “Got The Time” (the first of three covers, in a nine song set?) sees Scott Ian skanking around in circles, even backwards, while playing his guitar. The green tinted “Antisocial” sees Ian and bassist Frank Bello exchange sides of the stage and offer backing vocals. Green was also the color of choice, for “Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't”, albeit with a half dozen yellow spotlights shining down. “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)” sees Belladonna "stealing" the guitar picks affixed to each mic stand, tossing them into the crowd. Their adaptation of “Neon Knights” was dedicated to Motörhead, all reds, with green spots. The pentagram scrims were replaced with likenesses of Ronnie Dio and Dimebag Darryl Abbott, for “In The End”. Nice sentiment, when it was unveiled a few years back, but it's now five years since Dio's passing and almost 11 since the Pantera guitarist was tragically gunned down onstage. Sorry, but this late in the day, seems like pandering, which a 3+ decade artist, like Anthrax, doesn't need to do. A blue lit “Indians” ended with Ian lifting his white Jackson overhead and plugging the new album (due early next year), before exiting the stage. Can't wait to hear it.

Internet gossip and personal testimonials as to Lemmy's health have been swirling ever since I saw him (prematurely) walk offstage, at Wacken, two years ago. Rescheduled/cancelled tours/concerts and promo pictures have done little to dissuade the rumors. So here he was, onstage, in front of me, as witnessed a couple dozen times since the early ‘80s. Noticeably thinner and damn near immobile, he stood in his custom made barricade of monitors, twenty feet or so from the front of the stage. A disguised, portable air conditioning unit is only a few feet away. Phil Campbell did a yeoman's job trying to shoulder the live show burden, interacting (as much as possible) with the crowd, venturing to all points. Thrashing about, even peering over his drums between songs, Mikkey Dee did his best to be a visual attribute to the proceedings too. Where Lemmy once carried the show, as much for his acerbic wit, as actual interactions with crowd, it now appears all energies are focused on surviving (word not chosen lightly) each show. While we'll never know what was inside, a Perrier water bottle was visible in the cup holder fastened to his mic stand.

Bit of nostalgia, Philly was the first place Lemmy played in the States, back in '73. Tonight, “Bomber” started the short (12 songs) old school laden set, but as it progressed, became readily apparent these were old chestnuts, with which he was comfortable/knew by heart and mostly of the mid-tempo variety. Nothing off the new album, nor any "latter" day speedsters, like “Sacrifice”, “Burner”, or “Killers”. “Stay Clean” and “Metropolis” followed. The green lit “Over The Top” morphed into a Campbell guitar solo, stretching the time and giving Lem a break. He's back for “The Chase Is Better Than the Catch” and Dee's drums introduce “Rock It”. The newest option in the batch was “Lost Woman Blues” off 2013's Aftershock, lighted in blues and purples. Dee was again the focal point, with a yellow hued solo, following “Doctor Rock”. The strap to Campbell's red guitar emblazoned with "Welsh Wanker"! Not saved to the end, “Ace Of Spades” was the heaviest/quickest track aired. Had to play that one, or there's no use touring! As Lemmy acknowledged, "The one song you all know." By contrast, “Just Cos You Got The Power”, is relatively "obscure" (for a band with four decades longevity) and the perfect anthem for the primary election season. Standing from his elevated drums, Dee led the clap-along intro. “No Class” ends the proper set, teasing that, "If you make a noise afterwards, we'll come back. It's up to you." Lem gingerly walks behind the Marshall stacks, as the stage goes black. Don't worry, as advertised, they return for one more, first introducing the trio and then a strobe flashing, extended (one false ending) version of  “Overkill”. Audience has horns up, as Lem aims the bass like a rifle, pointed straight at the crowd. He pulls it off, over his head and pounds on its back, before lobbing a few picks to the crowd and taking a group bow, as the feedback resonates loudly.

Who knows when the next time we'll get to see Lemmy & Motörhead again, so if you get the chance, don't miss 'em.

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