Motorhead and Anthrax, Tower Theater, Philadelphia, September 22, 2015

Motorhead and Anthrax

Tower Theater
Upper Darby (Philadelphia), PA

September 22, 2015
Review by InfamousButcher, Photos by SheWolf

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All metalheads know that Lemmy Kilmister has had a lot of health issues over the last year and a half due to his hard living lifestyle and 40 years on the road with Motorhead. Undoubtedly, no one has done what Lemmy has for as long as he has, even Keith Richards can’t measure up. When it was announced last summer that Motorhead would do a North American tour with Anthrax and Saxon on different dates, we all knew this could be their last big US tour so we were chomping at the bit for this show! Tonight would be my 15th Motorhead show and my 14th Anthrax show, needless to say these are two of my favorite bands and I am fucking ready to go OVER THE TOP!

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The Tower Theater is an old style theater for plays and concerts that holds about 3,000 people. I’ve seen lots of stuff here over the years and I love the venue. In the 80s / 90s it was a shithole where you could rip a seat out and take it home, I’m not kidding we did that in March 1993 when we saw Pantera / Sacred Reich here! About 5 years ago the dump was nicely refurbished; hell it almost looked too good. Well, not to worry, in the 4 years since I was last here the place has gotten a bit crappy again! A big section of floor seats were removed to give us a massive pit area and there were still several rows of seats further back. Balcony was closed but the way they oversold the show it should have been opened. It is very special to me that the Motorhead show is at the Tower tonight. In February 1994, I saw Motorhead for the first time at the Tower with Black Sabbath and Morbid Angel (how’s that for a lineup?). Tonight could be the last time I see Motorhead, so it is fitting I am back at the scene of the crime, 21 and half years later. Sound quality was LOUD as it should be for a Motorhead gig, there were a few distortion issues but they were relatively minor and what’s a Motorhead show without some squealing amps?

ANTHRAX

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Coming into Black Sabbath’s “The Mob Rules” blaring on the loudspeakers, Anthrax wasted no time and immediately began cranking out “Madhouse” which whipped the crowd into a frenzy! Joey Belladonna’s voice was powerful and melodic when called for. He is a great singer that I think is vastly underrated. The rest of the band wasn’t as sharp tonight as other times I’ve seen them, but the crowd didn’t mind a bit as there was a lot of singing, headbanging, and moshing going on! Anthrax is a very active band and their stage presence is a lot of fun. Frankie Bello is always running and jumping around while strumming his bass, intense but clearly having a ball. Scott Ian delivered killer riffs and great angry backing vocals. Drummer Charlie Benante, one of the best in the business, deftly handled blast beats and fills. Newer guitarist Jonathan Donais made his presence felt as well with good leads and solos.

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Their set moved very quickly and stuck with mostly classics. Anthrax is the best sing along thrash band of all time, with tunes like “Caught in a Mosh”, “Antisocial” and “Indians” that everyone likes to sing, sometimes very loudly. Highlights of the set included “Got the Time” (killer stomp mosh on stage by Scott!), “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L)” (one of the coolest Anthrax tunes ever, and it’s harsh tribute to John Belushi!), “Neon Knights” (amazing cover of the Sabbath tune, Joey honored Dio and nailed it!), and “Indians” (WAR DANCE!). “In the End” was dedicated to Dio and Dime and featured pictures of them onstage. I was disappointed there was no “I Am The Law”, but their set was a little under an hour, so they had to cut some of the regulars. As Anthrax finished up, Rainbow’s “Long Live Rock and Roll” cranked over the loudspeakers, perfect vibe to end the set. Anthrax is still one of the greatest live thrash bands on the planet, but their set is getting a little too familiar at this point. I was glad to hear Scott say their new album is recorded and will be out in early 2016. Looking forward to that!

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MOTORHEAD

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About 10:15 amid the emergency siren, Motorhead took the stage, Lemmy strumming his Rickenbacker bass a bit as he walked across the threshold. The familiar chugging bass (GINGA GINGA!) and hammering drums took off and I immediately knew it was “Bomber”, one of my all time favorite Motorhead songs! WE SHOOT TO KILL, AND YOU KNOW WE ALWAYS WILL! Great opener! Lemmy’s vocals were loud and powerful, Phil Campbell’s riffs and solos were furious, and Mikkey Dee just bludgeoned us with his drumming, hair flailing around! After that they went right into “Stay Clean” (I KNOW THE WAY, I KNOW THE LAW!). I was quite happy we were getting a one-two punch of songs that I absolutely love and know by heart! Crowd response was one of headbanging and joyous celebration, smiles all around! THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME!!

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Motorhead always spills their bucket and gives you everything they have. They are a little slower nowadays, but still very loud and always a great live band. If you had never seen Motorhead before, you would not have noticed they are a step slower than they used to be. Lemmy didn’t talk to the crowd much and didn’t move much, I think he was focused on giving the best performance he possibly could. Phil did a great guitar solo about 4 songs in and Mikkey showcased his amazing drumming skills during “Doctor Rock”. He is a sensational drummer and a natural ham that plays to the crowd.

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Best songs of the night were “No Class” (SHUT UP! YOU TALK TOO LOUD!), “The Chase Is Better Than the Catch” (SILVER TOUNGED DEVIL DEMON LETCH!), “Over the Top” (dedicated to everyone by Lemmy!), “Dr. Rock” (YOU GOT A BODY LIKE A MARSHALL STACK!), and the aforementioned openers. As a surprise we got “Rock It” from 1983’s ANOTHER PERFECT DAY, but it sounded a bit off, not as good as it did on the Motorboat last year. “Ace of Spades” was played earlier in the set than usual and was kind of sloppy. Unfortunately no songs from the great new album BAD MAGIC were played. Also, no “Killed By Death” and no “Going to Brazil” tonight, this was my first Motorhead show without those two well known songs.

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After “No Class”, Motorhead came back out and Lemmy commented that Philadelphia is the first place in the US he ever played, back in 1973 (with Hawkwind, Motorhead didn’t exist yet)! How cool is that? Hey that’s a good piece of trivia; have to nail Eddie Trunk (THAT METAL SHOW) with that one! Before launching into the final song, Lemmy introduced his bandmates to the raucous crowd and reminded us not to forget that they are Motorehead and they play rock and roll! “Overkill” was great as always, Mikkey’s drumming is like a Mack truck that just runs right over your fucking head and keeps coming back for more! Perfect way to end the night, everyone left happy with ears ringing and sore necks, feeling fortunate they had seen the rock and roll legends again. Motorhead had to cancel several shows on this tour, so we were lucky to experience this one. Motorhead’s been around for 40 years and has tirelessly toured and cranked out quality albums you can depend on. BAD MAGIC is a great album and Motorhead still has a lot left. Hopefully they’ll be back in the States again, never count them out! WE ARE MOTORHEAD, BORN TO KICK YOUR ASS!

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