Home Gigs Gig Review: Pantera & Lamb of God at the American Family Insurance Amphitheatre in Milwaukee, WI

Gig Review: Pantera & Lamb of God at the American Family Insurance Amphitheatre in Milwaukee, WI

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Review & Photos by Greg Hamil for MPM

After a blistering hot couple of weeks in the Mid-West, the weather finally cooled off just enough to make it comfortable outside. But it is about to get smoking hot again as I head out for Pantera & Lamb of God in Milwaukee, WI.

As I arrive, I notice a crowd already lined up at the gate. Not a huge crowd, but almost certainly the folks with general admission pit passes, vying to get the coveted positions right at the barricade! As I and my fellow photographers (there are 17 of us tonight….WOW!) wait for the venue representative to bring our credentials, the rest of the reserve seating patrons begin to arrive.

As we are escorted into the amphitheater, I notice there are three sets of equipment on stage. I was only aware of Pantera & Lamb of God on the billing tonight.

The lights fade out, and SNAFU is announced. SNAFU turns out to be band with an old school thrash vibe and are signed to Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records label.

SNAFU’s singer/guitarist whips his long dreadlocks around, while the other members stomp and march back and forth across the stage. At 25 minutes, their set is short but effective.

The set includes a cover of Metallica’s “Fight Fire with Fire”. A nice surprise and excellent start to the show as the early arriving crowd responded with many cheers and applause. For the late arriving crowd, they really missed out.

Next up is Lamb of God! The band was formed in 1994 as a metalcore/thrash metal band. They have released eleven albums including their most recent release, Omens. From 2007 to 2016, they were nominated for 5 Grammy Awards, but never go the nod.

The current version of Lamb of God includes Randy Blythe on vocals, Mark Morton on lead guitar, Willie Adler on rhythm guitar, John Campbell, and Art Cruz on drums.

As Lamb of God hits the stage, they immediately blast into “Memento Mori”. The first thing I notice is that Blythe is no longer sporting his trademark dreads. He has gone the complete opposite route and is sporting the shaved head look.

Adler & Morton haven’t slowed over the years as the speed and precision are just as clean now as they have always been. While the hair has grayed over the years, Campbell moves back and forth across the stage while throwing his hair in every direction.

The newest member of the band, Cruz keeps the band grounded with his heavy double bass beat. Blythe wanders the stage like a caged animal wanting to pounce on his prey. At one point, it seemed like he was playing right to the photographers as he climbed the drum riser and made a huge jump back to the stage.

While all of this is going on, smoke cannons and pyro are going off everywhere. The lights flashing at a pace that could cause arena wide seizures.

Thoughout the night Blyth would give hat tips and dedications to various people. He acknowledged Pantera as a big influence stating; “Without that band, Lamb of God would not exist”. Before playing “512”, he dedicated it to those in the crowd with criminal records. This drew the biggest cheer from the crowd at that point. Lastly, he dedicated “Ruin” to Paul Reubens (a.k.a. PeeWee Herman) who had passed away earlier in the week.

As the band played their final song of the evening, “Redneck” small mosh pits could be seen in the pit and even up on the lawn.

Although the ones on the lawn looked more like kids rolling down a hill than a true mosh pit. Either way, it was an incredible end to an incredible set. Lamb of God alone would have been worthy of the price of admission. But hold on, because the night only gets better from here!

Lamb of God Setlist: Memento Mori – Walk with Me in Hell – Resurrection Man – Ditch – Desolation – 512 – Ruin – Contractor – Laid to Rest – Redneck

Pantera was formed in 1981 as a thrash/heavy metal band. Based out of Arlington, Texas, the band included the Abbott brothers (Darrell “Dimebag” and Vinnie Paul), with Rex Brown and Phil Anselmo. The band was never played on mainstream radio, but still sold millions of albums despite the “non” support. Their biggest hit was “Walk” which I would venture to say that even many non-metal folks even know.

When this tour was announced, many people labeled it as a “reunion” tour. I don’t feel that is an accurate description as without the Abbott brothers, a more accurate description would be a tribute concert. This couldn’t have been made more apparent than the video montage played before the band took the stage, and even more so when the curtain dropped and “Dimebag” and Vinnie photos are displayed prominently on Benante’s bass drums.

Replacing the Abbott’s on the tour is Anthrax’s Charlie Benante on drums. “Dimebag” appeared on several of Anthrax’s albums and was often dubbed as a sixth member of the band. Filling “Dimebag’s” massive shoes couldn’t have been easy. But who better to step into the role, then his good friend, former Ozzy Osbourn, and current singer/guitarist of Black Label Society; Zakk Wylde! Wylde even sports his own tribute to “Dimebag” by wearing a leather vest with “St. Dime” displayed prominently on both sides.

The Abbotts were kept front and center throughout the show. Anselmo’s voice was as strong as ever as he paced the stage screaming and growling throughout.

He seems to have settled a little over the years as he often stopped to raise his hands in the air, and many times put his hand to his heart or pointed to the sky. At one point he even stopped and told everyone that could, to turn around and look the full orange harvest moon that had appeared behind the fans on the lawn. It was a very peaceful, and somehow emotional moment in the middle of a metal show.

After opening the show with “A New Level” and “Mouth for War”, Anselmo stopped to tell the crowd that; “First things first, every note that we hit tonight is for Dimebag and for Vince”. This brought everyone in the house to their feet for an extended round of applause.

Wylde slayed the crowd on guitar. He really seemed to embrace the role he was brought in to fill. He stayed true to Dimebag’s legacy, but occasionally threw in his own style just to keep things fresh.

Highlights of the night included “5 Minutes Alone” which brought everyone to their feet once again. Mosh pits opened once again both on the floor and on the lawn. This was followed shortly by a recorded version of “Cemetery Gates” that featured a very touching tribute to the Abbotts. This was immediately followed by an acoustic version of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan”.

The crowd lost their minds as Pantera played the opening notes of ”Walk”. They were joined onstage by the boys from SNAFU who assisted in singing the chorus.

The set was closed out by “Ðomination/Hollow” and “Cowboys from Hell”. The lights stayed dark as the crowd screamed the band’s name repeatedly until the stage lights came back on and the band came back on!

Since the band had disbanded in 2003, Anselmo figured that most of the fans in attendance had never seen Pantera live. So, he credited the older fans in the crowd for raising their children to appreciate the band and heavy metal. With that, the band launched into the first half of “Slaughtered”, then closed out the night with “Revolution Is My Name”.

Going into the evening, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from Pantera. But my expectations were exceeded to a level I didn’t think was possible. A great set! But even more so, a fantastic and touching tribute to two of the biggest pioneers to grace the stage in the Abbott brothers.

If this show comes to a city near you, it is well worth the price to go. You will NOT be disappointed!

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