PANTERA Members Reflect On Reformed Band's First Concert: 'I Just Felt This Huge Relief Come On'

September 27, 2023

In a new interview with producer and YouTuber Rick Beato, PANTERA members Rex Brown (bass),Zakk Wylde (guitar) and Charlie Benante (drums) reflected on the reformed band's first live performance in over 20 years, which took place last December at Mexico's Hell & Heaven Metal Fest.

"Dude, I was a nervous wreck," Charlie said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "And it was like 53 degrees [Fahrenheit]; it was freezing.. And I remember taking two shots that night, of Black Tooth, just to calm myself down because I was so anxious. And we got up there, intro started, first song kicked in, and it was, like, 'Wow, there it is.'"

Added Rex: "That's what I call the shot across the world right there. That one little moment of time, and I remember it, because I just felt this huge relief come on. Because we had been in a hangar, with these two guys, for two weeks, getting this thing down with the lights and the production on this thing for nine, 10 hours a day playing the songs."

Zakk chimed in: "But I remember the funny thing was, 'cause there was no warm-up shows; we didn't do any club shows. So the first show was the one in front of forty thousand people or whatever it was… For me, I felt there's... Like the adrenaline, kind of like my first Ozzy [Osbourne] show, that I did in an arena when I was, like, 20 years old. So for me, I was just, like, 'Wow, this is pretty insane.'"

Charlie continued: "This is the first time people are gonna see it. And then it's gonna be everywhere after tonight. So if we don't bring it, it's gonna be like, 'Oh, I saw it. It wasn't so good.' And like I said, I had a hundred things going through my head: 'I don't wanna play this too fast. I wanna catch that groove as if I'm riding a surfboard.'"

Rex said: "And we did. And it paid off. And it was great."

Charlie added: "After that show, it was, like, 'Phew.'"

PANTERA's 2023 lineup includes two surviving members from the band's classic formation, Brown and Philip Anselmo (vocals).

Anselmo and Brown, along with Wylde and Benante, are headlining a number of major festivals across South America, Asia, North America and Europe and staging some of their own headline concerts. They are also supporting METALLICA on a massive North American stadium tour in 2023 and 2024.

According to Billboard, the lineup has been given a green light by the estates of the band's founders, drummer Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, as well as Brown, who in 2021 said Wylde wouldn't tour with PANTERA if a reunion were to happen. It's unclear what changed his mind.

This past March, PANTERA headlined the 2023 "comeback" edition of Japan's Loud Park festival. The two-day "limited" event took place on March 25 at Intex Osaka in Osaka and March 26 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City near Tokyo.

In December, PANTERA played seven shows in Mexico and South America.

Brown was forced to leave PANTERA's Latin American tour after testing positive for COVID-19. Filling in for him at some of the shows was CATTLE DECAPITATION bassist Derek Engemann, who also plays with Anselmo in both PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS and SCOUR.

Up until his passing, Vinnie remained on non-speaking terms with Anselmo, whom the drummer indirectly blamed for Dimebag's death.

Vinnie Paul and Dimebag co-founded PANTERA. When PANTERA broke up in 2003, they formed DAMAGEPLAN. On December 8, 2004, while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag was shot and killed onstage by a troubled schizophrenic who believed that the members of PANTERA were stealing his thoughts.

Vinnie passed away on June 22, 2018 at his other home in Las Vegas at the age of 54. He died of dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, as well as severe coronary artery disease. His death was the result of chronic weakening of the heart muscle — basically meaning his heart couldn't pump blood as well as a healthy heart.

PANTERA recently completed a U.S. headlining tour with support from LAMB OF GOD.

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