concert review by Ioana Nica
It has been always an honor to be in the same room with Phil Anselmo. The greatest front man of the metal music history, already a legend at only 45, Anselmo is the very straightforward definition of old school, which he is not afraid to spread out. But his old school style was never, is not and will never be old-fashioned. So it was a bit strange to see that the Brussels concert of his latest project tour – Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals – was scheduled in a location of only … 250 people capacity. And this, right after he performed at Nova Rock and coming straight from Download festival! No further need to mention that the gig was sold-out.
The show started with the intro from Portal’s ‘Black Houses’, literally air conducted by Anselmo. It quickly melted into ‘Battalion of Zero’ which was the launch of performing the ‘Walk Through Exits Only’ album entirely (if we leave aside ‘Music Media Is My Whore’). At the beginning, the sound in AB Club was even much better than on the record, capturing all the blackened thrash metal eclectic technicalities and the extreme awesome vocals, but after ‘Betrayed’ and ‘Usurper Bastard’s Rant’ it went completely wrong on ‘Walk Through Exits Only’, altering the songs, sometimes up to a mass of noise. And this was in my opinion the downfall of the show. Which wouldn’t have been that bad if it had been at least loud. But the sound volume was far from enough. Combined with the fans enthusiasm, it was just about right to set the crowd on moshing, surfing and applauses but not enough to set the entire ambience on real fire. As all the other true metal front men, Anselmo takes his energy back from the public, but his efforts of animating the room and bring the show to the level of his league and to the public expectations received delayed feedback. The show was simply not loud enough.
Otherwise: a lot of talking to the public, Anselmo’s style jokes, introductions to each songs, the sounds of Led Zep’s ‘Dazed and Confused’ following ‘Family, “Friends” and Associates’ and the already known incantation from the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, plus two Pantera covers, ‘Death Rattle’ and ‘Primal Concrete Sledge’ at encore.
Despite the obvious frustrations on both sides, everything that happened that night was under the sign of the good old school rules:
Rule no 1 – just ask for the heavy flashy colored lights on stage to be put off and request only some simple white lights. “I’m an easy man to work with”, said Anselmo to the lights guy.
Rule no 2 – end each-and-every song with “Thank you”.
Rule no 3 – recap the rules for the mosh pit: start moving in circles, slowly, from left to right. “If some one falls down, you help him and pick him up.”
Rule no 4 – put the audience on spotlight, so that you can properly express thanks for coming to the show and dedicate the evening to them.
Rule no 5 – bands are about guitar riffs, so no matter what style you play, you need awesome guitar solos in there.
Too bad the evening ended abruptly. I have never seen before a crow trying to cover the club music with their request for another encore, even long after the lights went up. Not coming back, after a performance of only one hour and 10 minutes, sadly left enough room for controversy.