GIG REVIEW: Anthrax, Killswitch Engage & Havok Live at the London Music Hall, Ontario
After a successful run a couple of years back, Killswitch Engage and Anthrax have decided to hit the road together again, with the Killthrax Tour II, bringing along Havok, out of Denver, in the opening slot. This Friday night stop at the London Music Hall was completely sold out, and filled to capacity quickly. With a combined 68 years of experience between the three bands, you’d expect a kickass night of heavy rock music, and these pros delivered with ease.
Havok took to the stage with gusto, delivering an energetic set of thrash / speed metal. After some lineup changes over the years, frontman David Sanchez ( the last remaining original member) put forth a strong vocal performance while also pulling double duty on rhythm guitar. Reece Scruggs and Nick Schendzielos took care of lead guitar and bass duties, while Pete Webber held down the beats on drums.
Currently touring in support of the most recent release, 2017’s ‘Conformicide’, Havok laid down a short, yet impressive set including such offerings as “Unnatural Selection”, “Hang ‘Em High”, “From The Cradle To The Grave”, and closing with” Intention“ To Deceive”. If you liked what you saw, or would like to check them out, Havok will be playing a headlining show at The Rockpile in Toronto on March 6th.
Formed in 1999, in Massachusetts, Killswitch Engage are no strangers on the metalcore scene. While alternating headlining duties throughout the tour, on this night Killswitch Engage performed in the middle slot. Adam Dutkiewicz bounced around all over the stage in his usual fashion, sporting gym shorts, running shoes and a headband. Not your usual performer attire, but it seems to work for him, and he posed and played around with audience members throughout the entire set.
Frontman Jesse Leach was on point, sounding terrific and pacing back and forth throughout. There are no recent releases, as their last was in 2016, but Killswitch hit hard and fast, barely stopping to talk between songs. Included in their set were old favourites including “Rose of Sharyn”, “My Last Serenade”, “Hate By Design” and “The End Of Heartache”. The highlight for me was an amazing cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver”, featuring Joey Belladonna to close their set. As mentioned earlier, the sound was fantastic, but the only downside for me was the lack of any front lighting.
I don’t quite understand the point of performing in near darkness, or being backlit with blinding strobes, as your paying sold out audience can’t SEE you. It was hard for me to always see what was going on from two or three feet away, so I can only imagine what the crowd could see from ten feet away and beyond. Please, turn on the lights.
Holding down the headlining slot this night, Anthrax hit the stage like the heavy metal / thrash icons they are. Widely considered one of the leaders on the thrash metal scene, and one of the Big Four ( along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer) Anthrax has always been noted for their live performances and tonight was no exception. Joey Belladonna, at 57 years old ( the new 29 apparently), is still vocally superb, and hasn’t seemed to diminish with age at all. He commanded the stage, engaging with the crowd and even some of us cameramen ( and camerawoman, hi Dawn), throughout his entire performance. At one point, I even saw him take a camera from someone in the pit and start snapping away, all the while beaming with a boyish grin.
Although the stage in this venue seemed a little small for the Anthrax stage set up, they still managed to squeeze in all the risers and winding ramps on each side, but sadly leaving little to no room for the “Scott Ian Signature Jump” ( I will get a shot of that one day!!). Scott Ian thrashed away on his guitar in his inimitable style, while adventuring up and down the ramp on his side of the stage. I did get a little worried that he’d run out of guitar picks at some point, as Joey kept stealing them off his stand and throwing them to the crowd. There was no shortage of energy here, as fans were treated to a variety of hits spanning the band’s 35 year career, and they sang along and headbanged with joyous abandon. Be sure to hit this tour when it hits your area, you won’t be disappointed.