Central Ohio metalheads were given a very rare treat on Friday night: Joey Belladonna, the vocalist of Anthrax, one of the most famous and successful American metal bands in history, performed at The Basement, a very small, very intimate venue. The few fans (I’d guess there were only 50 people, at most, present) that attended got to meet the legend and then watch an up close and personal and FUN show that consisted primarily of Anthrax songs and a few very cool surprises.
About half an hour before the local opening band, Sever, took the stage, Belladonna strolled into the bar and just casually hung out for a while, before working his own merch booth. He was extremely friendly, chatting with fans and posing for pictures. I asked him how the new Anthrax album–entitled ‘Worship Music’–is coming along, and he said that he just finished vocals the day before, and the record should be out in September (indeed, according to Blabbermouth.net, the CD is tentatively set for release on September 13).
Sever took the stage a few minutes after 9 p.m. and while it was soon apparent that many of the people in attendance were already fans, I’d say their fanbase grew after their set. Sever played for about 40 minutes, dishing out solid metal in the vein of bands like Chimaira. The bassist even performed a very impressive slap bass solo on his five-string, something you don’t see every day at a metal show. I enjoyed their set and wish them much success; I would love to see them jumpstart a Columbus metal scene akin to the one in Cleveland.
About 15 minutes later, Belladonna and his solo band walked on stage and ripped into the title track of one of the all-time greatest metal albums ever, ‘Among the Living.’ The show was utterly fantastic and truly special. It was indescribably cool seeing a bona fide metal legend mere feet away and performing the songs that made him an icon. This was quite a change from the last time I saw Belladonna, a mere seven months ago at a crowded, sold out show at the neighboring LC Pavilion (read my review of that concert HERE). Think about it: he is one of only 17 people in the entire world who can be rightly called one of the “The Big 4” (that group includes the members of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and, of course, Anthrax). And now chew on this: later on this summer, Belladonna will be performing at Yankee Stadium, as part of the above-mentioned Big 4. So, being able to catch him in a small bar is something I’ll cherish forever.
As I already said, Belladonna’s setlist naturally stuck to time-tested Anthrax standards (“Caught in a Mosh,” “Antisocial,” “Got the Time,” etc.), but he also performed one solo track and two songs penned by the immortal Ronnie James Dio. During the introduction to the Rainbow classic that began Dio’s ascent to metal godhood, “Man on the Silver Mountain,” Belladonna mentioned that he and his guitarist performed this song at Ronnie’s funeral just over a year ago. And, as befitting a funeral, the song was performed “unplugged,” and Belladonna sounds just as amazing singing an acoustic ballad as he does belting out the balls-out blast of speed metal “Metal Thrashing Mad,” which ended the show.
As I said before, this was a fun show. Belladonna interacted with the audience quite often, at one point grabbing a fan’s smartphone and taking pictures of himself and the band. He gently scolded someone for wearing a bootleg Anthrax tour shirt and even thanked someone else for delivering a Rottweiler puppy to his house! In between songs, the band would occasionally play snippets of tunes by Iron Maiden and Rush, and Belladonna sang part of the chorus to Judas Priest’s “Sinner” during “Madhouse.”
If I had to nitpick, I’d say that Belladonna should’ve had two guitarists in the band. The one he had played admirably, but I just don’t think you can do Anthrax songs complete justice without a two-pronged guitar attack.
As a postscript, I would also like to add that I am so happy to see Belladonna back in Anthrax, and I can’t wait to see the band touring in support of their next classic album, ‘Worship Music.’
- Among the Living
- In My World
- Got the Time
- Efinikusesin (lN.F.L.)
- Heaven and Hell
- Hard Life
- Caught in a Mosh
- Man on the Silver Mountain (unplugged)
- Metal Thrashing Mad