LIVE: Anthrax – Limelight, Belfast

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Ant7It really must have felt like Christmas with two of the ‘Big Four’ playing consecutively in the Limelight. I can imagine thrash and music fans alike hanging up their boots beside their chosen beverage, leaving a glass of whisky and plate of meat for the metal gods in the night and not being able to sleep with excitement. Like, ‘Metalmas’, or ‘Thrashmas’ or something to that effect.

Local lads By Conquest or Consent took to the stage as support and hell, did they step up to the mark. Singer Pete blasted out ‘We Came to Bring the Fight’ against the backdrop of Andrew’s pounding drums with such ease that you could easily envisage them on a main stage in a field. The perfect mix of screaming and singing; to say their heavy, heart-pumping sounds were a crowd pleaser is an understatement as they thoroughly revved the fans up for the night ahead.

The Limelight was starting to fill up now to the ‘sold out’ gig as fans made their way towards the stage lights to AC/DC’s ‘For Those About to Rock’. Chants of “Anthrax!” drowned out Brian Johnston’s vocals as the headliners took to the stage, opening with their 1987 album title track ‘Among the Living’. Within seconds the floor broke out into a mosh pit as the entire crowd salutes their metal horns; guldering ‘I KNOW’ along with Joey Belladonna. “This is gonna be fun” he remarks before launching into ‘Caught in a Mosh’, ‘I am the Law’ and ‘Efilnikufesin (N.F.L)’, jumping on amps and giving a thumbs up to the crowd. Drummer Charlie Benante was essentially double kicking through the stage, and it was difficult to take your eyes away from bassist Frank Bello’s bass-face lunge-stance with hair windmill fusion. Meanwhile Belladonna had stolen some guys camera, filming stage eye view of the crowd and his own face – to say the atmosphere and energy was mental is an understatement, everyone (me, you people there, them), literally everyone was clinically insane. It was great.

Quick defer away from the 1980’s to 2011 number ‘In the End’, which seen a quick set change from pentagrams to fallen heroes Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag Darrell. Anthrax’s epic homage chug-chugga-chugged a beautiful tribute to inspirational musicians of their genre, throughout Belladonna conducting the crowd with his mic stand as fans sang in harmony a succession of ‘woahs’ and ‘ohs’, ‘woo’s’, ‘heys’ and ‘ah’s’. “Thanks again for being so fantastic” he humbly remarks as a sea of metal horn salutes govern the Limelight floor.

Back to the 1980’s again as ‘Indians’ sparks a war dance which engulfs the entire floor in a pit. Guitarists Scott Ian and Jonathan Donais’ grins and head shakes epitomise how band, bar staff and crowd collectively feel. Warning the fans “next one’s a fast one”, ‘Imitation of Life’ explodes through the building; I could feel Benante’s drums penetrate my soul. Que standard ‘right we’re away lawl we’re back again, encore’, Frank Bello and Scott Ian’s rap off to Beastie Boy’s ‘I’m the Man’ goes down a winner before Anthrax launch into their final song, ‘Anti – Social’. Anthrax’s tunes highlight how music is not only a lot of fun, but also truly timeless, as every member of the audience sang back the lyrics to the band. Belladonna’s final words, ‘Remember to always worship music; long live rock and roll” sailed through the cheering crowd and hey, you can’t argue with that. Tascha Kennedy, GiggingNI.com