Anthrax at Manchester Academy

Support: The Raven Age
February 14, 2017 at Manchester Academy

Holy shit, Anthrax are good…seriously good. A band that have been a round seemingly forever, and been influential in so many bands across punk and metal. Another band that could easily turn up and go through the motions, and no doubt still put on a good show, but that’s not the Anthrax way. Be it playing at a festival mid-afternoon, below their more commercially successful peers, playing a high profile support slot, such as they did with Slipknot, Slayer and Iron Maiden over the last few years, or here tonight finally allowed the chance to shine on their first headline run of the UK for nearly ten years. coinciding with the thirtieth anniversary of the seminal Among The Living album, the band are over there to play the album in full, to hordes of adoring fans.

Opening on this run are The Raven Age, a new British band that are probably best known at the moment for featuring a member who is the son of a member of Iron Maiden, but its chances like this that they can push away from that and become known for their music. Tonight is a big opportunity, supporting such a big band, and with them being the only support, they had much longer than maybe they would have done otherwise. They do well, it’s a big ask performing in a big venue to people who don’t really know your work, and they do give their all, but it does fall a little flat towards the end of their set. A mixture of recent metalcore with a classic metal influence thrown in for good measure. It far too early into their career to know how well they will do, but they do look like a band up for a challenge and on his showing could have something going for them.

The Anthrax show is split into two sets, with the first being voted for by fans in the couple of weeks leading up these shows. This lead to quite a varied set featuring tracks from throughout their career, with the likes of ‘A.I.R.’ and ‘Madhouse’ mixing with ‘Breathing Lightning’ and ‘Fight ‘Em ‘Till You Cant’ and had the fans lapping it up. Their recent material has been easily the best of all of the “Big 4” bands and to have new songs that fit seamlessly with the any of the favourites from their illustrious back catalogue shows how passionate the band are about the music and their fans to continue working at such a high level.

After a little break, the band came out to a Blue Brothers intro and it was time for Among The Living in full. The band chose to play It out of sequence but the album is such a good set of songs that no one seemed to care. The pits that had been appearing throughout the night really opened up and when ‘Caught In A Mosh’ started even I was dragged out of pit retirement, and was again on a couple of occasions during this second set. With a different stage set, you could be forgiven for forgetting that they had already played an hour before the album playback started.  The band have great energy as always and the connection between bands and fans was a joy to be a part of.

A lot of bands are tagged as legends, many simply because they were around at a certain time, but Anthrax truly live up to that tag, recording great music for over 30 years and performing shows like this also at a similarly high level. They have always been my favourite of the Big 4, and tonight they show why. They do what they do without any gimmicks, give their all onstage and get a great response in return.

Anthrax setlist

A.I.R- Madhouse – Evil Twin – Medusa – Blood Eagle Wings – Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t – Be All, End All – Breathing Lightning – Among The Living – Caught In A Mosh – One World – I Am The Law – A Skeleton In The Closet – Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.) – A.D.I. / Horror Of It All – Indians – Imitation Of Life – Antisocial

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