Thursday, August 3, 2006
Vancouver, BC Canada
***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
This was the second last show of the “American Witch Across America Tour” and I was doubly psyched to see both acts, partly because openers Anthrax are riding a resurgence in popularity with the “classic” lineup in place and partly because Rob Zombie’s new CD, EDUCATED HORSES, has barely left my CD player since it came out in March. The crowd was definitely older and the mullet quotient was surprisingly high—a few guys even sported fake mullet wigs! The venue was a curious choice, as well, with the entire upper deck of the Pacific Coliseum (17,000 capacity) blanketed off and the rest of the venue barely half full for Anthrax. It was pretty disappointing considering the bands playing, too, but by the time Zombie hit the stage, things began to finally fill up.
Even though this was Anthrax’ third Vancouver appearance in eleven months (the others being Gigantour and an opening slot on the Judas Priest tour), I was still eager to see them again. One of my first big metal concerts was KISS/Anthrax in March 1988 (the CRAZY NIGHTS/AMONG THE LIVING tour) and it is really cool to see the band newly invigorated and having fun playing the classics. Their 50-minute set was dominated by material culled from AMONG THE LIVING, including the obvious (“Caught In A Mosh,” “Indians,” “I Am The Law) and the not-so-obvious (“A Skeleton In The Closet”), but perennial fan favourites like “Antisocial,” “Got The Time” and “Madhouse” got the crowd fired up. The rap/metal track, “Bring The Noise,” seemed to split fans, some who really were into it, while others were left shaking their heads and questioning why “Be All, End All,” “Among The Living,” “Keep It In The Family” or “Belly of The Beast” were not played instead. I was just happy to be spared having to sit through “I’m The Man” again! A black silk backdrop adorned with the famed “penta-thrax” logo hung behind drummer Charlie Benante but the stage was rather bare, undoubtedly reserved for Rob Zombie’s colossal production. The band members wore matching black shirts with the same “penta-thrax” design and their last names and numbers—jersey-style—were on the back. Benante’s (or maybe bassist Frank Bello’s) wife and baby sat at stage right and it was quite funny to see an infant wearing gigantic orange protective earmuffs! Bello’s animated stage presence is always fun to watch and is the polar opposite of lead guitarist Dan Spitz’ rigid style. Bello thrashes around with a hilarious look on his face, while the stoic Spitz remains stone-faced, focusing on his instrument. Along with vocalist Joey Belladonna, rhythm guitarist Scott Ian acted as master of ceremonies, inciting a huge circle pit for “Indians” (“Get ready for it…waaaaaaaar-daaaaaaaance!!!!!”) and later admonishing people who dared sit (“Sitting at a metal show is like trying to fuck without a hard-on. You don’t do it!”). Belladonna no longer wears the Native headdress during “Indians” and I can only hope that it isn’t due to some politically-correct nonsense. Even though they did not come back for an encore and the mighty Anthrax was relegated to a fifty-minute opening set, the band gave it their all and received a huge appreciative roar and applause from the crowd for their efforts.
Got The Time
Caught In A Mosh
I Am The Law
Skeletons In The Closet
Bring The Noise
Last summer’s jaunt on Ozzfest inspired Rob Zombie to re-think his plan to retire from music to focus on movies. With long-time bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson in tow, Zombie assembled a stellar band highlighted by former David Lee Roth/Marilyn Manson/Two guitarist John5 and ex-Alice Cooper drummer Tommy Clufetos. Headlining the second stage, it was clear Zombie & Co. were having a good time and the result was EDUCATED HORSES, an album that takes a departure from his campy horror shtick and showcases the musicians’ obvious talents and, most importantly, well-written songs. New bassist Matt Montgomery (AKA Piggy D; ex-Wednesday 13/Amen) has replaced Blasko, who recently joined Ozzy Osbourne’s band, and the entire band spent their 90-minute set running around and generally having a great time on stage. Zombie teased John5 for his stint playing in k.d. lang’s band (“back when he was a lesbian”) but there is no denying the guitarist’s incredible talent, especially during his solo, which featured a blistering shred, a taste of Van Halen’s “Eruption,” Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” “O Canada,” “The Star Spangled Banner” (played flawlessly with his teeth!) and just superb musicianship on the whole. He even did a respectable, impromptu drum solo at the end of “Feel So Numb”! Zombie himself is still an extremely energetic performer at 42 years old and he has dropped the zombie makeup, dreadlocks and outlandish clothes for a more laid-back, almost surfer-like appearance of blond-streaked hair, t-shirt and jeans. His legendary stage show surely did not disappoint, either, as the band stood atop skull podiums draped in American flags, evil clowns and two sets of three bronzed, shapely female statues with flaming orange hair and glowing white eyes sat alongside Clufetos, Frankenstein and The Wolfman glared at the crowd, and a giant video screen flashed images of the Manson Family, Bettie Page, various old horror B-movies, Japanese animation, topless go-go dancers and other effects. Zombie’s wife, Sherri Moon, is no longer part of the show, unfortunately, but everything else going on certainly gave the crowd plenty to focus on.
Six tracks from EDUCATED HORSES were played including the old-school White Zombie vibe of “Let It All Bleed Out,” latest single “American Witch” (the band wore skeleton bandito masks for this one) and the band hunkered down for a good old-fashioned, campfire-style hoe-down on “The Devil’s Rejects.” A twelve-foot tall robot came out for a stroll across the stage during “More Human Than Human,” but the real appreciation came during Zombie’s most well-known songs: “Dragula,” “Superbeast” and “Thunder Kiss ’65.” The crowd simply ate these up, with Zombie jumping into the front row for the rabid to sing into the microphone on. As consummate a performer as he is, Zombie’s on-stage banter seemed a bit manufactured, though, especially when he mentioned that the band had not played “Feel So Numb” in years and hoped to get through it alright even though the track has been consistently played on this tour. Still, it was great to see Zombie and his band come back for another run. His recent confirmation of being chosen to direct the new HALLOWEEN film has piqued my interest very much, but his live show proves Rob Zombie has some energy left for the music in him.
Rob Zombie Setlist
Halloween Theme/Sawdust In The Blood
Living Dead Girl
More Human Than Human
Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy)
House of 1000 Corpses
Let It All Bleed Out
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love/Sweet Dreams/Enter Sandman (Medley)
Thunder Kiss ‘65
~ ENCORE ~
The Devil’s Rejects
Lords of Salem
Feel So Numb
The Pacific Coliseum is renowned for hollow, washed-out sound and when I saw the venue’s skimpy attendance, I figured it would be certain doom for the bands but both Anthrax and Rob Zombie sounded very, very good. Joey Belladonna’s vocals were lost a bit in the mix, but the guitars and especially the bass and drums were loud and pronounced. Likewise for Rob Zombie, as John5’s brilliant guitarwork was crystal clear, Tommy Clufetos and Matt Montgomery provided a solid rhythm section and the man himself looked and sounded better than ever. The movie clips and various stage props are always a treat at a Zombie show, too, so overall, an excellent time was had by all in attendance.
***Thanks to Jenny at House of Blues for her help at the show.