GIG REVIEW: Anthrax & The Raven Age Live at O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
On Feb 10th, a sold out HMV Forum crowd of 2300 have gathered to see Anthrax celebrate what many would call their defining album the 1987 record ’Among The Living’. This is going to be a very special evening.
The night began with a rather interesting opening act in The Raven Age. George Harris, the son of Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris, is in the ranks on guitar. They opened with Promise Land, which was a solid way to start their set to a small but quickly growing crowd. Lead singer Michael Burrough did a really good job of getting the crowd hyped up. The Raven Age seem quite unique – their music sounds like screaming death metal, but the vocals don’t fit that same style, which makes a nice change, with songs like “Eye Among The Blind” and “The Merciful One” going down very well. For a group with the release of their first album just around the corner, they’ve really come together well and found a sound that will make them stand out from the pack. I predict good things in their future if they can keep up this quantity of quality. The best song of their set was definitely saved for last, as they finished up with “Angel In Disgrace”, a track with a far heavier feel. I really enjoyed this song, and hope the band do more like this in the coming years. Overall it was a very good set from The Raven Age, and they surely won quite a few new fans with this showing.
And then we came to Anthrax, who treated us to two sets, rather than just ‘Among The Living’, with the first routine being a mix of greatest hits and newer material. Opening with absolute classics in “A.I.R”. and “Madhouse” will always go down well at any Anthrax show. The first new track was performed next, “Evil Twin” from their new album ‘For All Kings’. I have to admit, I hadn’t heard anything from the new album, and really liked the new tracks, with “Evil Twin”, “Breathing Lightning” and “Blood Eagle Wings” being particular standouts. The whole band was on top form, which really highlighted just how good the new songs are. The rest of the set featured such hits as “Fight ‘Em ‘Till” You Can’t, making for a fantastic opening 45 minutes which was a great prelude to what the audience had been waiting for.
Once the short break and stage change-over was complete, Anthrax started their second set with ‘Among The Living’, which in all its thrashy glory would be an amazing opening track on any album, but is a masterpiece on an album that has such importance to the band’s history. It’s followed by the all-time classics “Caught in A Mosh”, “I Am The Law” and “N.F.L”. all of which were as flawless as expected, and gave me one of the most fun times I’ve had at a gig for a while. Even singer Joey Belladonna, who I was worried would be suffering with his voice, as I remember from past Anthrax gigs, looked to be rolling back the years with a performance that certainly answered any doubters. The song of the night came as the band launched into “A Skeleton In The Closet”, you could see how much the band were enjoying themselves, as Scott Ian stomped around the stage personifying the energy of the hardcore, hard-rocking crowd of Anthrax fanatics. The band looked to be feeding off the energy of the audience, who sing along with every word for the remainder of the set. They close out the set with “Imitation Of Life” before finishing the night with one last classic, and giving the crowd one last chance to sing their hearts out to “Anti-Social”.
The Raven Age and Anthrax were a perfect juxtaposition of old and new The Raven Age was a great opening band who looks to have a hell of a career ahead of them if they can keep doing what they did here. Anthrax showed that even after more than thirty years of albums and live shows they can still rock it with the best of them. Among The Living is a defining album, not only to Anthrax, but I would say to the whole thrash genre. It was a fantastic celebration of over thirty years of Anthrax, and it was great to watch the band roll back the years and have a blast roaring their way through both their greatest hits and Among The Living sets. If you’re lucky enough to have the chance to see Anthrax on this tour, take it, and you’ll be in for one hell of an experience.