With a great new CD called Down III-Over the Under, plus a coveted opening spot on the recent Heaven & Hell tour, Down have really been on a roll these last few months. Phil Anselmo & Co. made their way into Poughkeepsie for a show at The Chance on a very frigid Monday night February 11th, where about 300 metal fans came out to see the band's first area appearance in quite a few years. It was labeled as an "evening with Down", so there would be no opening bands, just 2 hours of prime stoner/sludge/doom from the one and only Down. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo, Staff Writer Butch Jones, and Staff Photographer Hayley Brooke were on hand and bring this full report with photos.
This was a cold night to say the least, with temperatures dipping into the teens around show time, as around 300 or so Down fans jammed their way into The Chance for the first Down appearance at the venue in many years. Prior to the set, the band runs a near 45 minute video, showing plenty of tour & backstage footage, plus a healty serving of vintage clips from plenty of Down's favorite band's and influences. This was a really neat experience for many of the classic rock and vintage hard rock/metal fans in attendance, as we were treated to live footage from acts such as Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent, AC/DC, Robin Trower, Scorpions, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and of course, Black Sabbath. In many ways, this was a lot more fun than sitting through an opening band, as this video sort of took you into the musical lives of Down, showing their heroes, as well as the fun side of their tour. Of course, they saved the old Sabbath clip for last (probably their biggest influence), so once "Hole In the Sky" finished, you kind of knew that the band were set to take the stage...
While I felt the crowd for this show was a little thin (surely there are more than 300 or so Down fans in the area?) each and every one of them at The Chance that night was extremely into the show, so it really felt like a sold out event due to the energy from the crowd. The band rampaged out on stage and ripped into the crushing sounds of "Pillars Of Eternity", the entire floor area in front of the stage turning into a raging, violent mosh pit, which is surprising considering Down's music wouldn't seem to bring on such a reaction, but it did. This continued for the next few songs, Phil only stopping briefly between songs to welcome the crowd and thank them for coming out before leading the band into the next head stomper. "Lysergic Funeral Procession" saw bodies flying about the mosh pit, the band seemingly enjoying the positive reaction they were getting right from the very start. The mix was excellent, the twin guitar thunder from Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein loud, clear, and heavy, while the drum and bass work courtesy of Jimmy Bower and Rex Brown could be felt rumbling through the very foundation of The Chance, holding down a rock solid groove.
One thing that a few of us were commenting on, was just how good Phil Anselmo sounded. The guys have been out on tour for a while, doing some of the Heaven and Hell tour dates as well as plenty of headline gigs, but his voice sounded arguably better than I have ever heard it. Not only has his voice changed over the years from the growling shouts and roars from his Pantera days, but his onstage persona has as well. It seems that Phil has taken a liking to the "close to middle age singer in a cool stoner band" character, which allows him to really do some singing, showing a side of his voice that we never really got to see much in the glory days of Pantera. He's also pretty subdued on stage, taking part in some banter with the crowd, and just really looking like he is enjoying himself up there. Sure, he got all nasty and vicious here too, as he did on tunes like "Lifer", "Temptation's Wings", "The Path", "N.O.D.", and "Hail the Leaf", but it was his bluesy, almost rootsy tone that crept out on "Ghosts Along The Mississippi", "Losing All", and "Eyes Of The South" that really showed a side of Phil we always knew he had in him, but he rarely let out.
The set was constructed in a way that had the first 30 minutes or so completely pulverize you with crushing doom metal, including some faster numbers, much to the delight of the crowd, before moving into some longer and more bluesy songs around the halfway point. Then, for the final act, the band lurched into some favorites before knocking out their classic and coveted numbers like "New Orleans Is a Dying Whore", "Jail" and the anthem "Stone the Crow" around encore time. "Stone the Crow" went down extremely well, everyone in the audience singing along with Phil as he wailed away while Pepper and Kirk layed down the melodic harmony lines and thunderous riffage.
At the end of the night, you couldn't help but feel that you had seen a truly kick ass performance, and the fact that we had roughly 2 hours of quality Down, and nothing else, made it all the more special. For the most part the band played everything you would have wanted, all the classic tracks from their earlier two releases, plus a good sampling from the new album (well, I would have liked to have heard "Pillamyd" and "Nothing In Return", but you can't have everything I guess), all of which went over extremely well. If you haven't had a chance to catch Down live yet, make sure you do so, and chances are you will become a 'lifer' yourself.
Photos By Hayley Brooke
(Click here to View the Rest of Hayley's Photos From this Concert)
Pillars Of Eternity
Lysergic Funeral Procession
Three Suns And One Star
Ghosts Along The Mississippi
Learn From This Mistake
Eyes Of The South
Beneath The Tides
Hail The Leaf
On March The Saints
New Orleans Is A Dying Whore
Stone The Crow
Bury Me In Smoke