Anthrax O2 City Hall, Newcastle

4 10 2022

These guys have changed!

I saw in 2019 that thrash-metal band Anthrax were due to tour the UK and, as I’m a huge fan of theirs, immediately bought a ticket.  Well, I say immediately – I immediately tried to buy a ticket that is… Of course, nowadays, if you don’t have a ‘smart phone’ (which I don’t and have no intention of getting), you can buy very little in the way of tickets online as you need to download an app and store the damned thing on your phone.  My phone, however, is just that – a phone – it does phone calls and texts and you don’t need an extra bag to carry it in!

Panicking madly at the thought of not getting a ticket to see them, I hurriedly googled the Box Office and fired off an e-mail to them pleading for a ticket to see them.  I have to say the Box Office at the O2 City Hall in Newcastle were superb and it was panic over the next night when they e-mailed me back to say they were posting me a physical (and therefore autographable) ticket… thanks guys and gals 🙂

Of course, the concert got put back a year, then another year due to Covid but this year it was to go ahead.  I booked my hotel for the Saturday and Sunday night and Richard, after a few misgivings about a Saturday night in Newcastle (it’s totally manic!) decided he’d come with me.  Of course, this last couple of weeks, the railways have decided to strike and the Saturday of the concert was a strike day so no trains would be running.  I hurriedly booked in for the Friday night as well – might as well have a decent break away…

Now, I have to say we were lucky in the UK to get to see Anthrax at all – apparently all the European dates have been cancelled (logistics and cost are stated as the reasons – I suppose the UK is fairly compact and the borders are unnoticeable to cross)…

I arrived early at the venue and managed to get to the front again (I’ve been very lucky in the last few years to always get to the front) – fairly necessary in these Covid-ridden times as it means I’m not breathing anyone’s germs in.  It did have a few drawbacks though which you’ll see later in the post…

There were two support groups – Sworn Enemy and Municipal Waste.  I liked Sworn Enemy who were on first.  However, with there being three groups on, I decided that I’d have to break my golden rule of not leaving my spot at the front to go to the loo as I just can’t last 6 hours nowadays without a pee!  At the end of their set I looked right and left of me – the guy on my left was by far the biggest of the two so I asked him if he would kindly save my space until I returned.  He said he would and he did – however,  surprisingly I didn’t really meet any opposition to resuming my place on the front row anyway.

I’d not long returned before Municipal Waste came on.  I have to say that I just didn’t enjoy them somehow.  Further to that they incited the, previously well-behaved, audience to start a ‘circle pit’ (used to be a ‘mosh pit’ in my day) and also to start crowd-surfing.  Now the circle/mosh pit was a few rows back so didn’t affect me luckily as I’m quite short-tempered and people constantly banging into me would trigger it badly!

However, the crowd surfing was a different matter.  I felt really sorry for the line of security guys and gals down the front who really had their work cut out from then on to the end of the set.  I was lucky in that most bodies didn’t come from behind me but, suddenly, I got a huge blow to the back of my neck which sent me dizzy.  Yep – one had come my way.  I was glad that was the only one and that not many people continued to crowd-surf when Anthrax came on as they were fully occupied watching and listening I think.

At last, Anthrax hit the stage – the bit we’d been waiting for.  As I’d always fancied Joey Belladonna (singer) like mad, I was interested to see how he looked after many years of not seeing them.  I have to say that, although he’d obviously aged, he still looked great and was almost as lively as he used to be way back – he was always great to watch and always gets the crowd going.

My other favourite, lead guitarist Dan Spitz (I just love tiny men) left the band years ago – to pursue watch-making of all things!  The new lead guitarist is Jon Donais and a very pleasant looking guy.  He also plays very well but maybe not with as much flair as Dan did way back…

I’ve got a little out of circulation with Anthrax albums as, when they sacked Joey a few years ago, I fell out with them and refused to listen to them any more or buy anything else and I didn’t get back into buying/listening when he rejoined for some reason.  So I was a little worried there’d be lots of tracks I didn’t know which isn’t good when you’re at the front and supposed to be singing along etc.

I needn’t have worried.  All my old favourite tracks were there from the expected tracks like Madhouse to some I don’t think they usually play but are favourites of mine, particularly Metal Thrashing Mad and Got The Time.  One verse of the lyrics to Metal Thrashing Mad (about street racing your cars) always makes me sing along and grin like a loony as it reminds me of my 20s on the roads around my home town when everyone used to go out and race whatever they had – I used to be quite good with my 1975 Ford Cortina 2.0 S

“Driving like a maniacCan’t go any fasterBurning up the roadand Headed for disaster!”

There wasn’t a drum solo from Charlie (who’s had his hair cut very short at some stage) but perhaps most groups don’t bother with all that nowadays.

Suddenly, at 2258 hours, while I was still waiting for another favourite of mine they used to sometimes end with, ‘Gung Ho’ (and believe me it is!), they finished the set.  I expected that they were just going off for a few minutes backstage for us to stamp and shout and whistle for them to come back on.  But then I realised the lights had come on.  I looked round and, to my huge surprise, everyone was leaving!

Now I did have a hiatus where I didn’t attend concerts for a few years but for the last ten years or so I’ve been going to quite a few – and that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that happen!  On later checking my ticket, I saw there was a 2300 hours ‘curfew’ so I assume they had to finish before then.  In that case, I’d rather they’d just had one support group and come on for longer and played even more of my favourites!

Now we come to my original comment at the start of the post – “these guys have changed”…

A smallish band of us (compared to the old days) went round to the stage door to await the group coming out.  I’ve done that for every single Anthrax concert I’ve ever been to (very many – I once followed them around the UK for a week and saw all their gigs).

On every past occasion bar one, when they all had ‘flu, they met the fans – and I mean huge crowds of us.  Sometimes they’d stand one by one just inside the backstage doorway and greet people one by one – other times they were more organised and set up a row of tables, sat behind them and people filed past chatting and getting stuff signed.  The time I followed them for the week they did that and, by the end of the week, they recognised me and greeted me accordingly which was great.  I think they even said once (probably in a concert programme or suchlike) that they thought they should meet their fans as, without us, they wouldn’t have a job (a comment I totally agree with).

Anyway, we stood outside on a freezing cold street with the wind cutting through our little jackets (one guy was just in a t-shirt!) for two hours – luckily it didn’t rain as it did while we were waiting to go in to the concert.

After around half an hour, a 4×4 pulled up briefly – someone in our little crowd said that Scott Ian (main member and rhythm guitarist) had sneaked into the vehicle.  Some ran over to check and verified that he had.  The vehicle quickly drove off.  By now I was getting a little suspicious that we might be given the slip!

After two hours we’d dwindled to nine as the others really couldn’t stand the cold any longer – I was struggling that’s for sure!  Some of the support band members came out and the guitarist from Municipal Waste came over to chat – he was a nice guy.

By now all the gear had been loaded onto the lorry and the venue staff had all gone bar one and the lorry driver was setting off too.  We nine were watching the door very intently by now.

Suddenly, a guy in a black anorak with the hood up and his face totally hidden came out with another guy – the second guy wasn’t quite as hidden and disguised though and someone recognised him as Frank Bello the bassist.  We rushed across the street and found it was Frank and Joey trying to hurry unobserved onto the bus.

Half of our nine missed their appearance completely poor guys.  A family of four managed to get a quick photo with them and I got bugger all despite standing with them waiting to get a quick word in.  They then rushed onto the bus without really saying a word to any of us.  I have to say that, as well as being frozen to the bone, I was completely gutted and really shocked!

Then, surprisingly, a lovely blonde lady came over to me and offered me something.  I took it and found it was a ‘Joey Belladonna’ plectrum.  I’m pretty sure it was Krista, Joey’s wife.  I thought it was very kind of her to come out and salvage the situation somewhat but I was really surprised at the guys in the group’s new attitude!

What happened Anthrax?  Why have you overturned your previous principles so completely?  Is it just not done to meet your fans any more? Even when they’ve frozen their asses off for two hours in freezing Britain and there are only nine left still standing?

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24 responses

7 10 2022
underswansea

Got the Time, a thrashed out version of Joe Jackson’s number. TNT takes me back to bush parties. Very unsafe considering the drinking and driving. Most of us made it through, I bet the same can’t be said about now. Great post.

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7 10 2022
mountaincoward

Yeah I knew I’d heard it before they’d played it but didn’t know who else had done it. I love it being ‘thrashed out’ though! I should hunt down the original!

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5 10 2022
Alli Templeton

I have to admit, Carol, when I read your headline I initially thought poor Newcastle had been hit by a deadly disease! I’m very glad it wasn’t that though. I admire you for your tenacity and I’m glad you got to the concert and rocked out! 😀

It’s a shame they weren’t as sociable with their fans as they used to be. Marillion are good like that. I suppose, being Devil’s advocate, it might be an effect lingering from Covid, and I suppose it is the cold and ‘flu season on top of that. Still, it is a shame.

And as far as career changes go, from guitarist to horologist is pretty impressive and extreme move! 🙂

Liked by 1 person

5 10 2022
mountaincoward

I must admit that, after writing my post, I was musing today on it again and it hit me it might be a post-Covid thing (in which case I can’t blame them too much as I’m the same and still trying to avoid too much indoor contact). But when they were outside and there were only 9 of us, you’d have thought they’d have paused for a brief chat!

Liked by 1 person

5 10 2022
Alli Templeton

That’s true, there wouldn’t have been any real risk from that. Unless, perhaps, they thought you’d all pounce on them! 😉

Liked by 1 person

5 10 2022
mountaincoward

Well I have seen girls ask to kiss them before but I always thought that was an imposition and way over the top! (even though, back then, they were super-gorgeous!) 😉

Liked by 1 person

5 10 2022
Alli Templeton

Ah, that may very well be it then. If that’s what they’ve known in the past, throw in Covid and the predicted bad ‘flu season and you’ve probably got an uncharacteristically unsociable band of musicians! Nevermind, there’s always next time…

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5 10 2022
mountaincoward

I need to stop taking it personally I think!

Liked by 1 person

5 10 2022
Alli Templeton

Good idea, I very much doubt it was personal at all, and it was probably just self-protection, especially if they have more tour dates ahead of them. Still, at least they weren’t at risk of getting Anthrax! 🙂

Liked by 1 person

6 10 2022
mountaincoward

That made me laugh!

Liked by 1 person

6 10 2022
Alli Templeton

😀

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9 10 2022
jester1970

Marillion are usually very good, but recently had to crowdfund for the fans to underwrite their tour as they could not get covid insurance. If one member gets it the whole tour goes under and they end up liable for all the lost costs. For that reason they travelled in a self imposed bubble and didn’t do the usual meeting and greeting. Thankfully the tour went ahead and all the pledged money was returned to the fans.

Liked by 2 people

9 10 2022
Alli Templeton

Just goes to show how precarious everything was during Covid, but it does illustrate how even simple things like mixing with fans has had to change. I hope these things will eventually go back to pre-Covid ways though, as it would be a shame to lose the more personal social side.

Liked by 1 person

10 10 2022
mountaincoward

That comment really helps actually – I think that’s what it must have been – I feel better about it now. Still a shame though…

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5 10 2022
tessapark1969

I’d forgotten you were into that sort of music! I was more into nu metal and goth stuff myself. Not been to a rock gig for years though and always get seats after a bad experience in a mosh pit where I had to be got out by security.

Liked by 1 person

5 10 2022
mountaincoward

I could see me getting into a fight if I was too near a mosh pit – I always used to get mad when they all started shoving from the back at Donington and so on and used to really push back hard. They all sort of looked at me like “Why are you getting so mad? it’s just a bit of fun” which I knew it was but it doesn’t stop my temper rising unfortunately…

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5 10 2022
Bitchy After 60

Well you were determined, that’s for sure. I never was much for chasing stars or standing in crowds at concerts. The introvert in me gets a little claustrophobic. Two hours in the cold would have made me pee my pants more than once so that would not be on my to-do list either, but I do admire you for the stamina to do it all.

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5 10 2022
mountaincoward

I rarely wait around to meet groups but Anthrax were always so friendly and sociable it was always great and a rewarding experience…

Liked by 1 person

4 10 2022
bob

Although music is still a big part of my life I’ve never been fan struck or waited around for any bands/artists, preferring to watch music videos nowadays in comfort so someone like you’re good self who does wait around and is loyal should be fully appreciated as there’s so many other distractions to capture peoples interests these days they can never take fans showing up for granted.

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5 10 2022
mountaincoward

Exactly – it’s put me off going to see them again which is a shame as I always used to go to all their concerts if I could as it was just such a great evening out. I suppose I’m being unfair as most of my other groups wouldn’t dream of meeting the fans and I’ve never held that against them – it was just the huge change in these guys as they were always so friendly and outgoing…

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7 10 2022
bob

Hi Carol, thinking about it from the band’s point of view if any of them or their crew get covid and spread it before realizing that it could cancel the tour. With little money in record sales any more live performance and festivals is where the income is now. Discovered fairly recently most of the Punk artists live in grand mansions but a lot of more modern artists do not earn anything like that income and require other jobs to pay the bills. Astonished to see Boy George attempting to sell his elaborate £12 million Hampstead mansion on the news a few weeks ago which looked incredible inside, like the house of minor royal or UK PM, full of elegant art and stained glass windows, and he probably has other homes as well. Having no 1s now in the internet age would not earn that kind of income unless you are someone like Adele selling millions of records at a time so finishing their tour successfully and covid free is probably their main concern. I’ve had it twice now despite still wearing a mask in shops and on public transport which few other ********s do :o)

Liked by 1 person

7 10 2022
mountaincoward

I’m really sorry to hear you’ve now had Covid twice as I know you’re as careful as I am – didn’t know about the second dose! Hope it wasn’t a bad one…

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4 10 2022
jester1970

Didn’t have you down as an Anthrax fan! I gave up hanging around stage doors years ago. I do however tend to position myself nearer the toilets these days…

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4 10 2022
mountaincoward

I only normally hang around to meet Anthrax as they always used to meet their fans and were really nice guys. I tried hanging around for Megadeth but, although we met the guitarist as he came out to chat and was super-nice, the rest sneaked onto the bus from around the building and buggered off!

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