Among The Kings European Tour 2017
The Raven Age – Support Act
Amager Bio, Copenhagen,Denmark
6/3 – 2017
Live review and pictures by: Anders Sandvall
Thrash metal legends Anthrax are currently out on the road celebrating the fact that their monumental masterpiece, AMONG THE LIVING, turns 30 this year (2017). Right before the tour started, the band re-released FOR ALL KINGS with a whole bonus album included. According to sources, the band was going to split each show into two where they perform AMONG THE LIVING first, then after a break, come back and perform a set of classic tunes. The band invited the fans to vote for the songs to be featured in the set list for the second part of the show. I saw the original AMONG THE LIVING tour back in 1987 in Stockholm Sweden; that’s how old I am, haha. Also out on this tour is The Raven Age. The tour began in England and ended in Paris, France. The band has a lot to prove to me because the last time I saw them, the show left a lot to wish for. The winter hadn’t quite left Scandinavia this night and it was pretty cold waiting outside the venue for the doors to open. Because of the border controls, my friend and I had to leave home early to make sure we crossed into Denmark in time for the show. Waiting for the show to start, and to get out of the snow falling on us my friend, who loves beer, walked over to the nearby supermarket and hooked us up with some beverages to help keep warm.
The Anthrax bus arrived and the security told the waiting fans to step aside because the band had to get to the backstage entrance. The members all walked past the cold, long-waiting fans and not one of the members said “Hi” or signed anything. My friend became so frustrated with the band’s behavior that he considered going home on the spot. The lack of signing was probably due to the fact that the band sold meet and greet passes (expensive ones also). Personally I think metal fans are always loyal to their bands, buying tickets, t-shirts, albums, patches, and vinyl, traveling to the shows etc. and thereby put a lot of money into the band. Why should fans be forced to buy expensive meet and greet passes in order to get their stuff signed? I don’t like the trend and am never going to buy on, but those are just my personal opinions on the hype surrounding bands today. I think it’s a band’s duty to be kind and sign autographs for fans who have been waiting in bad weather for hours to meet their heroes! In the ’80’s and ’90’s, bands cared for their fans, signed autographs, and hung out with people backstage. Its a very sad future we’re facing with more and more bands selling meet and greets instead of facing the fans outside the club and having a chat with them.
Well, after the sad “meeting” with the band, we decided to go to a restaurant and have something to eat to try and calm my upset friend down and talk him into staying for the show.
About 15 minutes before the doors opened, we went back to the club. Now there was a long row of people waiting outside; luckily it went pretty fast getting into the warm venue. Once inside we hung our coats and took a look at the merchandise while waiting for The Raven Age to kick off the night.
The Raven Age comes from London England and was formed back in 2009 by guitarists Dan Wright and George Harris (son of Steve Harris from Iron Maiden). The band released their first EP in 2014 and in 2016 released the album DARKNESS WILL RISE. The guys were the opening act for Iron Maiden during their The Book Of Souls Tour last year but I have to admit that I wasn’t overwhelmed when I saw them live at the Gothenburg tour stop.
Only a drumset with two smaller backdrops with ravens were up beside it when we arrived. On a paper at the entrance to the photo pit the info about the night was written; it said that Anthrax was going to do a two-piece set.
The Raven Age
As the clock turned 8, the band came on stage and fired off two songs after which singer Michael Burrough thanked the crowd and said “We are The Raven Age from London England and it’s fun to be here”. It was mostly Burrough that moved around connecting with the crowd. The Raven Age is:
Michael Burrough – lead vocals
Dan Wright – guitar
George Harris – guitar
Mat Cox – bass
Jai Patel – drums
Burrough once again thanked the crowd and said the band had been in Copenhagen in December 2016 and that was great fun. “Eye Among the Blind” taken from the EP followed and the band still didn’t turn me into a believer in their music; the band’s metal/alternative simply doesn’t do it for me. The club wasn’t even semi-full when the band fired off “The Merciful One”. Burrough tried to get the crowd going but it didn’t go so well. He thanked their crew and Anthrax for letting The Raven Age tag along on the tour. “The next song”, Burrough said, “is only released digitally right now”, and he urged us to check it out when we got home; it was “Salem’s Fate”. It was about now that it appeared that the band seemed to convert some of the people in the crowd as a few started to jump and clap their hands. It was mainly Burrough that got the crowd going, the rest of the band members stood mostly still looking down on the floor while playing. Burrough said the band was going to be at the merchandise stand later and that everyone who wanted to meet them could come over after the show. “Angel in Disgrace” followed and was the final song for The Raven Age this night. The audience clapped their hands and the band took a selfie with the crowd. Burrough asked if anyone was going to Copenhell festival this summer, “Great, I’ll see you there!”, he said.
The Raven Age is not a band of my taste; I think their music is boring. Even though the band’s performed in front of thousands of people each night opening for Iron Maiden they still have a lot to work on when it comes to the live performance. Luckily, the 35 minutes they had to play was over quickly and the crew began to prep the stage for Anthrax. I spoke with another photographer who had seen the band in Gothenburg and she said the show was going to be divided into two sets with different back lines. The photographers in Gothenburg got to enter the stage twice; during the three first songs in each set. The first part was a selection of classics ad the second part evolved totally around the AMONG THE LIVING album. That sounded very promising and given that Anthrax was going to perform for over than 2 hours, this night had all the potential to be a successful one.
Anthrax is one of the biggest thrash bands from USA and has been active since 1981. The band was formed by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker. They are, of course, one of the Big Four along with Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer. Last year, FOR ALL KINGS was released, the follow up to 2011’s WORSHIP MUSIC. The band has had problems with keeping an intact line-up since 2010. Drummer Charlie Benante has also had problems with his hands which have made him unable to play drums.
The back line seemed to be the same one the band had with them last summer. A drum podium with the text “For All Kings” on the bottom could be seen and on each side of the drums there were stairs. Behind the drums was a huge back drop of the album cover which looked really cool. Security gathered the photographers and said we wouldn’t be able to take photos during both sets but only one. I wasn’t the only one disappointed by that message and it all cast a shadow over the Anthrax experience for the night. At 9.30 “Mob Rules” by Black Sabbath played and the club went dark. The stage was lit and the second intro, “I Can’t Turn You Loose” by the Blues Brothers was heard and we were let into the photo pit for the start of the show.
“Among the Living” marked the beginning of the show as the band rushed on stage. The crowd was lit from the very start and sang along to most of the songs during the night. The hardcore fans at the front of the stage went crazy and their happiness showed no limit when “Caught in a Mosh” followed. Belladonna worked really hard connecting with the crowd from the very start and behind him I could see that session drummer Jon Dette pounded the skins instead of Charlie Benante. I hadn’t heard anything about Benante not being on stage this night and pictures from the show in England a few days back showed him joining the band; it was yet another disappointment. Belladonna had the crowd sing the chorus as he pointed out the fans one at a time. Bello was positioned beside the drums while Donais and Ian stood down on the floor. “One World” followed and it was obvious that the band was starting with AMONG THE LIVING, contrary to what they did on the previous shows where they started with assorted classics. Belladonna asked if the crowd was ready for another song and shouted “I Am… “and the fans shouted back “The Law!”; of course “I Am the Law” followed. Line-up during this show was:
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Frank Bello – bass
Scott Ian – guitar
Jonathan Donais – guitar
Jon Dette – drums, session member
When I got out from the pit I saw that the club was maybe semi full with people and wasn’t sold out. The sound system and lights worked perfectly. Belladonna had the fans shout at his command and when the song was over Ian took the mic and thanked the Danish fans for the support. “It’s great to be here”, he said, “I remember when we wrote the next song because it’s one of my favorite ones on the album”. “A Skeleton in the Closet” followed and the song woke up the majority of the crowd as they all sang along. When the song was over Belladonna started to sing a capella and let the fans take over the last verse in the next song which was “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L)”. It’s amazing how many songs are actually hits on this album! I had almost forgotten just how epic AMONG THE LIVING was until this night. The band had already run through two of the biggest hits from the album in “Caught in a Mosh” and “I Am the Law” but there was still one missing.
Everyone but Donais went off the stage and it was time for a lead guitar solo. Donais got some lights on him, finally, since it was Ian that took most of lead guitar parts. Donais threw a solid solo and when everyone came back he and Ian stood in the center of the stage to kick off “A.D.I/Horror of it All” together. The band felt extremely solid together and the two “new” members fit like a glove in their positions. Belladonna gave a much happier and stronger impression than he did the last time I saw the band and he amazed me with his stunning vocals.
Everyone but Dette walked off the stage and it was time for him to shine, firing off the intro to “Indians”. The band faced the fans in happiness as they walked on stage again. This was clearly one of the songs the fans had been waiting for the most. It looked like the members were having a good time and it was especially fun to see Ian so happy because the last time I saw them he didn’t look satisfied at all. Bello felt a bit over heated and banged his head and ran around during the entire show. Belladonna invited everyone to sing along in the chorus and the fans almost overpowered the band. A fan threw a hat on stage, Belladonna grabbed it and put it on his head. In the middle of the song Belladonna stopped the music and told the fans that they know what they were going to do. It was time for the fans to sing along, which they did with all their heart and soul. Both smoke machines went off on each podium, throwing smoke up against the roof.
After a moment of silence and a change of instruments, Ian took the mic to say the band had one more song to play. He said the band wanted a real old school song to finish the album and the song was written when America had a president who was an actor, and since his days America has only gotten worse and the song is as current today as it was back then – “Imitation of Life” followed and the band had now played the AMONG THE LIVING album but not in order. That song ended the first set at 60 minutes the band had but the fans weren’t satisfied and screamed for more music.
The band returned and Belladonna asked if the fans wanted to hear more and said they were going to have fun and fired off “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” as the first encore. Donais took the lead guitar and almost instantly after the song ended “Madhouse” followed, which made the fans go mental. “Blood Eagle Wings” followed, dropping the tempo a bit. “Breathing Lightning” continued the encore extravaganza and Belladonna had the fans singing on command as Donais and Ian shared the lead guitar parts. Belladonna thanked the fans saying, “it was really nice to be playing in Copenhagen again. This has been a special night for the band. Do you want to hear one more song?” the fans shouted and clapped their hands louder and louder and Belladonna said he wanted the fans to shout “antisocial” for him, and guess what, that song followed. “Antisocial” ended the night and the fans sang on their own. Belladonna thought the fans did a great job despite the fact that it was a weekday. The members took off their instruments while looking happy and thanked the fans for the support. Ian thanked the fans for coming and said “see you someday Copenhagen”. The encore part lasted for another 40 minutes and ended about 11.10. The show was way too short and I think it should have lasted for at least 2 hours since they played the previous night in Gothenburg for at least that long.
Even though the show was good, it wasn’t great, and I have seen the band do better. However I was really disappointed that the band didn’t do two full sets. Maybe that reflects on my final opinion of the night. It was great fun to hear the epic AMONG THE LIVING but again, I wished the band had stuck to the original plan and fired off the two set show. It was said that the fans had voted which encores would be played but I have to wonder which fans chose two songs from the new album as encores? Only two classic songs were played and one of them was a cover! In Stockholm the band did 8 encores but in Copenhagen only 4. Ultimately Anthrax didn’t convince me this night. The issue with the meet and greet and the fact that Benante wasn’t on stage also made the night a little bit sadder.
Mob Rules – intro
I Can’t Turn You Loose – intro 2
Among The Living
Caught In A Mosh
I Am The Law
A Skeleton In the Closet
Guitar solo – Donais
A.D.I/Horror Of It All
Imitation Of Life
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
Blood Eagle Wings
Long Live Rock n Roll – outro
Thanks to Jaap Wagemaker at Nuclear Blast HQ Germany for help with press/photo pass to the show.