Big Four thrash pioneers Anthrax opened their 'Among The Kings' European tour in Birmingham on Thursday night (9th February), putting in an inspiring performance that saw them visit all corners of their catalogue as well as playing their lauded 1987 release 'Among The Living' in its entirety.
Taking to the stage at the city's O2 Institute venue, the five-piece proved exactly why they're in the form of their career, pulling out all the stops to ensure that their first full UK headlining tour in over a decade would be a memorable one.
Dividing their set into two separate acts complete with intermission, Anthrax's unusual approach - which prompted guitarist and founder Scott Ian to quip; "we've never did this before; we've never opened before ourselves!" - only added to the excitement levels in the packed Midlands theatre. Opening with the one-two punch of 'Spreading The Disease' classics 'A.I.R.' and 'Madhouse', the band delighted the crowd, with both their choice of material, and impressive light show and large scale production spectacle.
Using the first half to showcase material from latest album 'For All Kings', with the epic 'Breathing Lightning' among the shows many highlights, the New Yorkers also delved deep to deliver a number rarely heard cuts, including fan favourite 'Be All, End All', and 'Aftershock', which lead singer Joey Belladonna introduced as; "something we haven't done since '86".
However it was act II that most fans had anticipated the most, and an airing of the band's defining 'Among The Living' album in full. Introduced with the nostalgia-inducing 'Blues Brothers' theme music made famous on the band's 1988 'Oidivnikufesin N.F.V.' home video, the Birmingham crowd raised the roof as the band faithfully performed the piece in its original running order. Mixing the familiar - 'I Am The Law', 'Caught In A Mosh' - with the relatively obscure - 'One World', 'Imitation Of Life' - Anthrax's most famous release had something for the casual, to the most dedicated fan.
Introducing deep cut 'A Skeleton In The Closet' meanwhile, Scott Ian took the opportunity to name check Birmingham's most famous heavy metal sons, saying; "This next song to me defines what Anthrax meant to me in '86, and I have to ask you here in the land of Black Sabbath; do you love thrash metal?"
Closing the night with two of their biggest hits - in rap metal prototype 'I'm The Man' and fist in the air singalong 'Antisocial' - the band took their bows on what had been an incredible celebration of their three-plus decades as heavy metal luminaries.
Anthrax are inviting its fans to help chose the set list for the remainder of their European tour (including the UK dates, which can be viewed below). Fans should go to the official Anthrax website, where they can vote for up to ten songs from a list of forty-four tracks, with the most popular expected to make the opening section of the set.
An Evening with ANTHRAX - Among The Kings U.K Dates.
11.02. UK Bristol - o2 Academy
13.02. UK Nottingham - Rock City
14.02. UK Manchester - Academy
15.02. UK Glasgow - Barrowland
16.02. UK Newcastle - Northumbria University
17.02. UK Norwich - UEA