GIG REVIEW: Anthrax & The Raven Age Live at The Birmingham Institute, UK
On February 9, 2017, I traveled the short distance to Birmingham to see Anthrax celebrate the 30th anniversary of their classic 1987 studio album ‘Among the Living’, with the name of the tour being ‘Among the Kings’. The support act for the tour was The Raven Age, a melodic metal band featuring guitarist George Harris, the son of Iron Maiden founding member, bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. With the exception of Anthrax’s one of two performances at the UK edition of Sonisphere Festival 2014, it was the first time that the band had performed ‘Among the Living’ in its entirety, and the second time overall.
The Raven Age audience enthusiasm and participation definitely started off relatively minimal and grew continuously as their set went on. However, for an opening band I feel that The Raven Age did an admirable job of warming the crowd up for what was to come, although in circumstances such as these it is difficult when you’re playing before a classic 1980s thrash band.
It was now for the main event of the night. To my surprise, Anthrax did not start their set by playing “Among the Living”, and instead performed a variety of tracks that included “Madhouse”, “Evil Twin”, “Breathing Lightning” and “Fight ‘Em ‘Till You Can’t”. “Among the Living” came next – the title track followed directly by “Caught in a Mosh” which is one of the best 10 minutes of live music I think I’ve seen in a long time. By this point you know what to expect, one of the best thrash albums played in its entirety to a room of people who knew every word to every song.
“Imitation of Life” brought the album to a close, as it does, which was then followed by a final two-song encore of “I’m the Man” and the brilliant “Antisocial” cover. 19 songs in just under two hours flies by when the band’s technical prowess as musicians as well as their undeniable enthusiasm as musical performers draws you in.
To conclude, Anthrax’s performance at the Birmingham Institute was very, very good. The Raven Age was a welcome opener, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again with Iron Maiden. ‘Among the Living’ is one of those albums that deserves to be celebrated, and it was so good to see that it got the recognition it deserved on that night. If you’re seeing Anthrax this year, and especially on this tour, you’re in for a treat.