Baroness singer and guitarist John Baizley sounds as frustrated as anyone that every new release …
PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS with King Parrot, Palm and Potion
Max Watts Melbourne
22nd March, 2019
Damn it was a swamp inside this gig. As Potion’s notes decayed into painted-black walls, the whole fucking thing was a sweatbox. It’s fucking March, man!
Because the world’s gone mad, metalheads were frisked and metal detected on the way in. This isn’t Stereosonic. You know this, right? Anyway, by the time one could get a decent view of the stage, Palm (from Japan) were going full ham, flanked by a skinny dreadlocked dude and guy who looks like a Japanese version of our editor on drums. I don’t expect you to know what he looks like, but trust me, it’s hilarious. A frogstomping frontman seemed to want to collapse the stage, but their music was perfectly good for doing that itself; grooving, punishing, grinding thrash in the style Japan has taken far beyond extremes. Horns were raised and CDs were purchased. Seal of approval.
The mighty King Parrot. Everyone loves King Parrot. A buttoned-down shirt dude sipping Chardonnay even dug the KP boys, tapping his toe along to Disgrace Yourself. Youngy in actual shirt came out, wearing his hair “long” again. Somehow it makes him look even scarier. He rallied us to mosh. “Come on Melbourne, ya fucken pussies,” he scolded. Aunty Slattz agreed. “Come on, let’s disgrace ourselves.” Even if you’ve had the week from absolute hell, KP melts the outside world away in sweat and riffs. The mosh reached tropical cyclone strength for Piss Wreck, charging up to category five for Dead Set. Blink and you’ll miss Youngy jumping into the mosh and cruising over it while barking out fan favourite Shit On The Liver. “We are professional metal musos,” Slattz said, in his usual sardonic tone. “I used me last five bucks to take the V-Line from Geelong to get here.” I would’ve loaned him double that to see this show, let me tell you.
Chants of “Phil” that seemed to trail on for the entire half-hour break willed the inevitable; the arrival of the Illegals and Mr. Phillip Hansen Anselmo front and centre stage. Wearing just a t-shirt and slacks, it almost looked like he walked off the warehouse floor after an eight-hour shift. If you passed him on the street, you’d assume he was an ordinary, if a little sullen, dude. “The first half of this set, you’ll have to suffer through,” he announced. “The meat of it will come in the second half.” That’s referring to his Pantera “true tribute,” of course.
Hooking into the mouth of Little Fucking Heroes, a melting pot of black metal beats, death metal attitude, and a Bayou insanity that only NOLA could cook up, Phil took the stage like a pulpit, himself a satanic preacher. Once they spun down, Phil addressed the elephant in the room; his cancelled NZ shows due to that gesture, now in even poorer taste in light of the Christchurch massacre.
“One, they couldn’t be more wrong,” he says, shaking his head (even though the NZ promoter would have to do some lithe mental gymnastics to figure why a supposed white supremacist brought a Japanese band on his tour). “Two, they don’t know me. And three, I love everybody … Just be kind, you assholes!” Well said? Blasting through Choosing Mental Illness, a crossover between the heaviest of metal and most anarchic of punk rock, Phil would still emerge with a headbang and a smile, chewing gum and slapping hands the whole time. “Fuck all y’all virtue signalling pussies,” he jabbed at his critics before the last bit of the Illegals set, Photographic Taunts and Walk Through Exits Only, punctuated by a puff on his ventolin inhaler and a wink.
Tonight, for an hour, Pantera lived and breathed again.
The band had finished opening for itself. It was time to relive the classics. The reason why we’re all here.
“This is important for all the people who never got to see Pantera when they were young,” he says. “This is for Dime, this is for Vinnie.”
A roadie brought out a road case for Phil to perch a leg on, old style. It was time.
If the mosh was at a 10 already, it doubled in ferocity for the opening notes of Mouth of War. Both fists pumping, drowning out the thousand-decibel band with our own vocals; it was a sight and sound to behold. These fans have been holding in a worship for Pantera for nigh on 20 years. Tonight, for an hour, Pantera lived and breathed again.
Guitarist Mike DeLeon, sporting flying-V Jackson and looking like a cross-between Marty Friedman and Katon W. De Pena, busted out Dime-perfect solos, each of us lapping up every lick. By the time we rolled into Becoming, the entire venue jumped along to the first stomping beats, never stopping to catch our breath. It was one of the most unifying heavy metal experiences a metalhead could hope for. We sang along to I’m Broken, and lost our absolute minds to the rhythm of Walk. The love for these tunes was beyond a fever pitch; it was unyielding and undying.
Fucking Hostile had refugees escaping the pit, even hardened mosh veterans figuring they’d had enough. Youngy joined Phil on more than one occasion (“Everyone’s welcome on this stage, just come on over,” he says) along with members of the entire line-up. Anything went, and everything did. Total insanity. Becoming and the Vulgar Display of Power cuts were testament to the immortal brotherly spirits of Dimebag and Vinnie Paul; an honour to heavy metal itself. Thank you for this Phil. We metalheads worldwide appreciate it more than words can say.
Even if you weren’t the biggest Pantera fan in the world, catch the Illegals this tour. Do not pass up this rare chance to witness metal history repeat itself.
Thrash Blast Grind Tour Dates:
ADELAIDE // Mon 25th March // Enigma Bar w/ Voros*
BRISBANE // Thu 28th March // The Back Room
BRISBANE // Fri 29th March // The Back Room SOLD OUT
SYDNEY // Sat 30th March // The Factory SOLD OUT
NEWCASTLE // Sun 31st March // The Cambridge
SYDNEY // Mon 1st April // Frankie’s Pizza // w/Black Rheno*
MELBOURNE // Thu 4th April // The Corner // w/ Black Rheno*
HOBART // Fri 5th April // Brisbane Hotel // w/ Black Rheno* SOLD OUT
*No Palm & Potion