The Cowboys from Hell Took Over The Town of San Diego
Author: Charlie Cisneros
Saturday August 26th was a big day in metal history for America's Finest City. It marked the return of the legendary Pantera & every second was non-stop headbanging! After a little over 20 years, lead singer Phil Anselmo gave the green light to reignite the flame to an even newer level.
On a beautifully clear sky & sunny day, both longtime & new metal fans were welcomed to a fun environment that started right in the parking lots of the massive North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre. From every section having attendees tailgating, drinking refreshing ice cold beers, grilling delicious food, music blasting from the car to even our local Rock 105.3 handing out goodies, it was a pre-party experience that was well worth arriving early. Fans were eagerly waiting in line till doors opened & once they did, there was no hesitation to the pit, seats, lawn & the awesome merch. Not to mention the concession stands for even more beer & food like the super tasty Trejo’s Tacos!
Once some of the crowd settled in, the music began right off the bat to a crazy start with Spirit In The Room. They didn't just have the look like you were about to make a deal with the devil himself, they had the music to sign right in front of him!
Soon after, the iconic Lamb of God from Virginia entered the fray. Anywhere from the 20,000 capacity venue, their large banner hung above & could be seen staring at you no doubt. As soon as you heard the screams of the first “wake up,” the insane riff & drums of Memento Mori tore towards the crowd. Singer Randy Blythe, guitarists Will Adler & Mark Morton, bassist John Campbell & drummer Art Cruz were relentless full force.
Followed were songs Walk With Me In Hell & Resurrection Man, alongside compositions from their latest album Omens like Ditch & the title track itself. For their finale, Redneck was met with great praise. The band's performance was energetic, fast, loud & rowdy. The crowd participation was immense & Blythe’s ferocious vocals & savage movement fed to the ravage beasts he & all the members are. The awesome pyrotechnics & fireworks were an exhilarating feeling too! Blythe asked San Diego before walking off stage if we were ready to hear Pantera music & the amphitheater roared with excitement.
Thus, it was time.
Similar to Lamb of God, a massive Pantera curtain flooded the stage. It was bold & getting you ready for what was about to unfold. After the In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song) tape finished, the creepy guitar intro of A New Level led to the heaviness & headbanging infection of the full fledged piece. Dropping the banner, revealing history being made.
This tour was dubbed “For the fans, For the brothers, For the legacy” as is not only was for the mentioned, but more so a tribute & homage to members Dimebag Darell & Vinnie Paul. Honoring them was Charlie Benante of Anthrax & Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society & Ozzy Osbourne. Returning as well on bass is longtime member Rex “Rocker” Brown himself.
After the opening song, Mouth For War & Strength Beyond Strength were next. The energy was rampant with crowd vocals word for word as Anselmo raised that mic up. The stage design was brilliant as it gave off an industrial, steel fortress vibe with an enormous band logo hanging high above in flames! This is how Pantera feels at home & indefinitely with the Vinnie Paul statue next to Charlie, the Pantera floor mat at center stage to even Anselmo performing barefoot!
Later on in the set, the metal icons dimmed the lights & played a tape of Cemetery Gates for all to witness an unlimited amount of archived footage featuring the Abbott brothers. Immediately after, a very intimate cover of Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan tune had us all paying our respects. At this moment is why the reunion is “For The Fans, For The Brothers, For The Legacy.”
Once the lights lifted, the heavy riffs returned. Pantera continued with hit tracks Walk, Domination, Hollow & Cowboys From Hell. They indeed took over this town as Anselmo was our conductor, controlling our every move & word as he raised his arms & hands in the air. Clenching his fist, showing who is in charge.
The encore was left with Slaughtered & Yesterday Don't Mean Shit but as all good things must come to an end, it certainly did. However, Anslemo did say if San Diego will show up again if Pantera were to return. The town yelled with all that they had left as they wanted the power groove quartet to do so. Anselmo’s vocals were powerful, Brown’s & Wylde’s tones were deep & Benante’s intricate playing were all reasons why these musicians are deemed to carry the torch.
Overall this show was one that will be remembered forever & will always stay in our hearts. The city of San Diego & Jampak is truly thankful & grateful to have experienced such talent! Pantera has 19 shows left, Lamb of God 13 & you can catch Spirit In The Room once more at Soda Bar on September 26th!