You've heard of London based melodic rockers The Raven Age haven't you? If you're an Iron Maiden fan then the chances are you have, but if not then the name may be somewhat unfamiliar to you.
Formed in 2009, this band have been making a name for themselves based mostly on the merit of their live shows. In case you weren't aware, one George Harris, son of Iron Maiden supremo Steve, is a founding member of the band and his name is certainly going to help propel the bands name up a few notches when it comes to festival bills or support acts.
In fact, The Raven Age have already supported Harris Snr's offshoot band, British Lion, back in July 2014 and most recently they supported the mighty Maiden themselves on last years 'Book Of Souls' World Tour, along with Anthrax, which is where they hooked up with tonight's headline act.
A lot of the growing success of The Raven Age is simply down to hard graft by the band along with a strong set of tunes from their self-titled EP (released in 2014) and their debut full length album, 'Darkness Will Rise' that is due for release on Friday 17th March. Afforded a forty-five minute slot here the band wasted no time in getting into the groove as the audience were still filing in.
Front man Michael Burrough was in commanding form throughout their set which was mostly taken from the upcoming debut release. 'Promised Land' was an early highlight with the thundering drums of Jai Patel leading the way along with a killer guitar riff courtesy of Harris. 'The Merciful One' was another top track with Harris producing his best solo of the night, whilst Patel shone through every single song as he kept the steady and, at times, complex drum beat which firmly anchors down the bands sound.
The highlight of their set was a tie between 'Eye Among The Blind' and set closer 'Angel In Disgrace', both towering examples of this band at their best. Burrough stretched himself vocally on the former whilst the latter saw the band finishing on a high. Roll on the release of their debut album, that's what I say – it's going to be a real treat and I'll stake money on that.
The Raven Age Setlist:
The Death March
Eye Among The Blind
The Merciful One
Angel In Disgrace
The Raven Age are:
Michael Burrough – Lead Vocals
George Harris – Guitar
Dan Wright – Guitar
Matt Cox – Bass Guitar
Jai Patel – Drums
Anthrax are fast coming up for their fortieth anniversary and they're showing no signs of slowing down. The release of their most recent album, 2016's 'For All Kings' was met with universal acclaim and the band never seem to tire of the endless touring schedule they undertake every year.
2017 also sees the thirtieth anniversary of their landmark 'Among The Living' album and what better way to celebrate than to play the whole thing from start to finish. Now, I know what you're thinking – “Aren't five songs 'Caught in a Mosh', 'Indians', 'I Am the Law', 'Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)' and 'Among The Living' itself usually included in the standard Anthrax set list?" Well, yes, but that still leaves four cuts that are rarely played live, and these kind of anniversaries are things to be celebrated, right? I mean, how many of todays bands will still be here in twenty or thirty years time?
While you discuss that, I'll get back to the matter at hand – a sold out gig at Glasgow's famous Barrowland Ballroom. The last time I saw Anthrax was back in November 2015 at the city's Cathouse nightclub with another sold out performance, that time it was in front of just three hundred lucky punters as the venue celebrated the venues twenty-fifth birthday – cheers to Donald MacLeod for that one! The band were the best I've ever seen them that night, so I was hoping for more of the same here, and I wasn't disappointed.
The New York quintet love Glasgow and Glasgow loves them judging by the thunderous roar as the lights went down. In fact the band are so fond of Glasgow/Scottish audiences that they chose this gig to be filmed in its entirety for a DVD release, something which wasn't announced until the gig had completely sold out.
"We've been trying to film you fuckers for thirty years!" said founding member Scott Ian at one point, to a glorious Glasgow response, and it seems the band weren't disappointed by the response throughout the entire night.
The first half of the gig was a cornucopia of Anthrax oldies and a clutch of tracks from their 'For All Kings' opus. 'Madhouse', from 1985s 'Spreading The Disease' album, understandably got one of the best reactions but newer tracks like 'Evil Twin' and 'Blood Eagle Wings' were also well received, though interestingly, there was nothing from 'Persistence Of Time', arguably one of their finest albums, but they did slip in 'Medusa' and 'Be All, End All' from 1985s 'Spreading The Disease'.
After a mid-set break to set up various ramps on stage, 'I Can't Turn You Loose', famously used in the 1980 classic film 'The Blues Brothers', heralded the 'Among The Living' part of the evening, and with the audience nicely warmed up and boozed up, they proceeded to go absolutely barmy for the next seventy odd minutes.
It's so good to hear rarely played tracks like 'Imitation Of Life' and 'One World' alongside bona fide Anthrax classics like 'Indians', 'Caught In A Mosh' and not forgetting the ubiquitous 'I Am The Law'. Seeing the passion from the stage and from the audience in equal measure, this was a sure-fire winner of an evening all round, with Joey Belladonna being the consummate frontman throughout the evening whilst guitarist Ian and bass player Frank Bello were a never-tiring bundle of frenetic fun.
The audience wanted more, and they were given more with an encore of 'Antisocial' closing off what was an epic night for everyone. This was a truly monumental gig from a band at the very top of their game and with a string of European dates stretching out through February and March before they head Stateside later in the year, if you don't have a ticket yet, then I urge you to get out there and get one soon because you really don't want to miss this electrifying show from a band who are firing on all cylinders.
Blood Eagle Wings
Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't
Be All, End All
Among The Living
Caught In A Mosh
I Am The Law
A Skeleton In The Closet
A.D.I./Horror Of It All
Imitation Of Life
Joey Belladonna – Lead Vocals
Scott Ian – Guitar
Jonathan Donais – Guitar
Frank Bello – Bass Guitar
Charlie Benante – Drums