Before Leeds had even opened its doors for tonight’s gig, reports had been flooding over the Pennines about how the Academy in Manchester had been packed to the rafters for this thrash event which only caused anxiety that the Academy in Leeds was likely to be more than uncomfortable given how Leeds is definitely the smaller of the 2 in terms of capacity. Oh well, the chance to catch the New York thrash legends certainly outweighs the prospect of spending a sweaty few hours with a few thousand like-minded metal heads so here we go ………
Not long after the doors had been flung open, fellow New York hardcore thrashers Sworn Enemy were occupying the confines of the compact Leeds stage and they were making full use of every inch of the stage. The turnout initially was fairly poor for these veterans which was a shame because they really put on a show any band would be proud of. Lococo stalked the stage as much as he could, delivering intense and maniacal vocals throughout the brief set. The set relied heavily on early album ‘The Beginning Of The End’ but there was also representation from the latest opus, 2019’s ‘Gamechanger’, in the form of ‘Coming Undone’ and a muscular and imposing ‘Prepare For Payback’. The early shift was certainly a successful one and one which undoubtedly will have made Sworn Enemy a few new friends from the Yorkshire City tonight, I for one will have a keen interest in catching them next time they pay our small Isle a visit in the future.
Up next were Municipal Waste and judging by the number of shirts on show in the now swollen crowd, they could almost have headlined this gig on their own merit. When the lights went down and the Virginia thrashers took to the stage, the noise generated by the lungs present tonight was striking. Foresta was his usual charismatic self, interacting with the crowd at every possible opportunity, goading them into circle pits and even jokingly requesting that one of the balcony occupiers jump but thankfully the intended target took the request with the insanity it was meant and decided against entering the record books for the biggest ‘stage dive’ known to man. The set progressed with huge amounts of fun and hilarity, fan favourites and ‘Waste’ anthems were unleashed tonight, ‘Beer Pressure’, ‘Born To Party’, ‘The Art Of Partying’ and my personal favourite ‘Sadistic Magician’ all of which seemed to ramp up the party atmosphere one notch at a time until, by the time the set was being closed out, we were firmly at a delirious 11 on the crazy scale. Mid set we also learnt that it was Land Phil’s 40th Birthday on this very day and I’m sure this subliminally injected even more effort and endeavour to make sure that this gig was a full on party in celebration of the huge milestone and I’m sure that once the amps had been turned off and the guitars laid to rest on the stage, the party would continue long into the small hours. A huge success on a small stage, take a bow Municipal Waste, this was a show of epic proportions.
As is becoming all too familiar these days, we were treated to another curtain dropped from the ceiling to obscure our view from the stage and the work that was going on to turn the space round for the legends, also celebrating their 40th birthday. As the lights went down, we were spoilt to a short video with all manner of artists and famous faces giving us an insight into what having Anthrax around means to them, the curtain then dropped and all hell broke loose. Frank was his usual crazy self, energetic, animated and bouncy beyond belief. Scott Ian took up his usual stage left and orchestrated the Anthrax celebration with ease while Joey threw himself around the rest of the stage, interacting with every one of the thrash fans worshipping before him. The set was a who’s who of Anthrax classics, a thrash fan’s dream come true. Opening with ‘Among The Living’ and then launching into ‘Caught In A Mosh’ without coming up for air in between. I could just then list the whole set as each song was worthy of a mention, but if I had to pick out any highlights it would have to be anthemic ‘I Am The Law’, a rare ‘Medusa’, a fun inducing ‘Bring The Noise’ and the absolutely colossal ‘Indians’. Benante certainly earned his money on the skins tonight, battering each beat with dedication and power, each hit with precision and faultless pride. As the set closed out with ‘Efilnikufesin (NFL)’ it was clear to see that every soul in the Academy tonight had been witness to a full on thrash party and one to celebrate 40 years with passion and emotion. Surely there can only be one thing the thousands of minds stepping out into the cool Leeds air were hoping for, and that surely had to be that we would simply love another 40 years from these legends.