Phil Anselmo and I have a rocky relationship. It all started at my very first concert, on Pantera's Far Beyond Driven tour in 1994. To an impressionable metal lad, the man was a living legend. Up on stage next to Diamond Darrell, the two put on a performance that I'll never forget. Legendary.
Fast forward to 1997. After a lackluster showing at Ozzfest that summer, I saw Pantera play at Roseland supporting Official Live: 101 Proof. Phil was deep in the throes of substance abuse, and could neither stand on his feet nor remember the lyrics to the songs. My most vivid memory of the show was complete embarrassment when Phil repeatedly sang the wrong verse of "Cemetery Gates." It was an ignominious ending to my Pantera years.
When Jeanne Fury offered me a chance to see Down on 9/11, I wasn't expecting much. I've followed Down since NOLA and enjoyed each of the albums, but it didn't give me much hope that the performance would be worthwhile. A not-so-flattering write-up of the tour by umlaut was discouraging. Jeanne asked me to be her photographer for the show, so the chance to witness the madness from the photo pit added a bit of incentive.
Jeanne and I soaked in a couple of pints and a lot of rain, then headed to The Nokia Theater - my favorite venue in New York that's bigger than a bread box. We got there in time to see Weedeater stomp the shit out of the stage. It was an unexpectedly excellent performance. Got to scrape that shit right off your shoes.
I finally got to meet the famous Justina Villanueva, which was very cool. At least I'd have some protection from the pro photographers in the pit if they decided to turn on my amateur ass.
I've never been a huge Melvins fan, but I dug Houdini back in the day and the last two albums are pretty awesome. Again, it was a surprisingly stellar performance. I won't go too much into detail about it - Jeanne already wrote it up in the deciblog here and Justina wrote it up for Noise Creep over here.
Having lived through those Pantera concerts, I was fairly concerned that I might be killed in the photo-pit once things got started. When Down came out and started to throw down, I wasn't disappointed as bodies started to fly everywhere. The security tried to chase us away after a couple of songs, but Pepper Keenan told them to let us stay for a while. The man is extremely cool, and also a total ham.
Down were completely awesome. The sound was beautiful, the guitars were screaming and Phil Anselmo was manly perfection. Totally on target, in key and in control of the crowd. My head really wanted to snap off my body. The set-list was fantastic and represented all 3 albums well. As has been mentioned elsewhere, the legendary performance of "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love" blew everyone's minds and the roof off the building.
Sometimes the best shows are the ones that you don't over-anticipate. That's what happened for me on this evening. After all these years, the Phil Anselmo bromance is back on.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm not a pro at this photography thing, but I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. The rest of the photos from the show can be seen here.
Eyes of the South
Lysergik Funeral Procession
Ghosts Along the Mississippi
New Orleans is a Dying Whore
Pillars of Eternity
Nothing in Return (Walk Away)
Ain't Talkin''bout Love
Hail the Leaf
Stone the Crow
Bury Me in Smoke