Watch: PANTERA Plays First European Concert In 23 Years
May 26, 2023
The reformed PANTERA played its first European concert Friday night (May 26) at Arena Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria. The performance marked PANTERA's first live appearance in Europe in 23 years — since May 2000, when the band last toured the continent in support of what would be their final album, "Reinventing The Steel".
PANTERA's setlist for the Sofia concert was as follows:
01. A New Level 02. Mouth For War 03. Strength Beyond Strength 04. Becoming 05. I'm Broken 06. Suicide Note Pt. II 07. 5 Minutes Alone 08. This Love 09. Yesterday Don't Mean Shit 10. Fucking Hostile 11. Planet Caravan (BLACK SABBATH cover) 12. Walk 13. Domination / Hollow 14. Cowboys From Hell
PANTERA's setlist for its recent shows has included one song which hadn't been performed live since the band's comeback last year: "Suicide Note Pt. II", from PANTERA's 1996 album "The Great Southern Trendkill".
PANTERA's current lineup includes two surviving members from the band's classic formation, Philip Anselmo (vocals) and Rex Brown (bass),along with guitarist Zakk Wylde (OZZY OSBOURNE, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY) and Benante (ANTHRAX).
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 will also support 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.
Benante opened up about his participation in PANTERA's return during a recent interview with "THAT Rocks!", the new weekly YouTube series hosted by Eddie Trunk, Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson. Speaking about some of the criticism he has received for his involvement with PANTERA, Charlie said: "People had their preconceived notions of what they were gonna think: 'Oh, I don't dig this without Vinnie and Dime.' And of course… What do you think? We don't know that Vinnie and Dime are not with us anymore? But when we start playing the songs and you just see the faces in the crowd, all that shit goes out the window, the negative stuff that has been said.
"Man, that's all I ever wanted to do, is just come and do this and make people hear these songs again," he explained. "And that's what it's all about, really. It's about the music."
Asked who was in charge of making the decision to use the name PANTERA for the new lineup instead of calling it a tribute or naming it something else, Charlie said: "It wasn't me. [Laughs] For us it was about the celebration of the music and Dime and Vinnie; that's what it was about since day one. No one called it a tribute; no one called it a reunion. It can't be a reunion. This is a celebration of the music of PANTERA. Come and enjoy it. And that's it. That's all could do."
Benante also talked about his personal connection to Dimebag and Vinnie, saying: "Yeah. I loved those two guys, man. You never think that certain things would ever, ever happen, and then when it does, you sit back and think, like, 'How did this happen so fast? How did this time just slip by?' And Darrell's been gone for a while now. But it doesn't change how we all miss him and feel him.
"Every show that we play… [Longtime PANTERA engineer, bass tech and friend] Sterling [Winfield], who used to work for PANTERA — still does, in a sense. The first show, he came to Mexico City and he brought me one of Darrell's wristbands and a pair of Vinnie's gloves that they used. And every show that I've played so far, I wear the wristband and Vinnie's glove is in my pocket because I feel like they're with me. And I do that for every show, and I'll continue to do that for every other show we play. It just has significance."
Benante previously discussed his involvement in PANTERA's comeback during a recent interview with Consequence. Addressing the negative comments he has received for his participation, Charlie said: "I don't go [online] looking for [people's negative comments about it]. There's people that send me, 'Hey, did you see this?' And I'm, like, 'Why did you send me this? Why ruin my day?'
"I think the people who do these things, these comments, I don't even think they realize how much of an effect that they could have on people," he continued. "And whether or not you hate the situation, or whatever it is, why can't you find some sort of restraint? Why do you need to say this thought that you have? Can't you just hold it in and maybe be, like, 'I'll keep my thoughts to myself.' No, they've gotta tell you. I've never seen more of it in my life than I [did] in these past couple of months about just people judging."
Regarding his personal approach to playing the parts originally written and recorded by Vinnie Paul, Charlie said: "I just spent a lot of time on Vinnie's parts and more importantly the tone that Vinnie had because I wanted it to sound like PANTERA. That was my thing. And my drum configuration is different from the ANTHRAX one because I wanted to challenge myself to play those parts like he played them in that configuration, which, to me, was more important than anything. But yet people still have to find some problem in that."
According to Benante, the initial rehearsals for the PANTERA comeback tour were "an emotional thing" for Philip and Rex "too, because they hadn't played as a group, those two hadn't played together in a long time, playing PANTERA songs. Yeah, they played [together] in DOWN, but this was an emotional thing for them," Charlie said. "And I remember after the week of rehearsals that we did, saying goodbye was weird, because it was an emotional thing; we really kind of bonded, the three of us. Zakk wasn't there at the time. But for me, I knew I had done something right."
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.
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