Anthrax + Suicidal Tendencies + MOD + Kings X – 25/06/89 – Brixton Academy

First visit to Brixton Academy, really impressed with the place. Over the course of the next twenty years or so it would become the venue of choice in London – big enough to get decent sized acts, but if you got standing tickets you could get right up close to the stage. The sloping floor means a great view from almost anywhere, and the kitsch renaissance pillars and balconies framing the stage really make it nice to look at when the house lights are on. Plus, it has about half a dozen bars…

Anthrax ticket Jun 1989

I’d heard a lot about Kings X – ‘progressive metal’ I had heard Tommy Vance describe them as, and I guess they were, albeit a little more r’n’b influenced than I was expecting. Doug Pinnick is a great bassist and for a three piece, they made a lot of noise. Not a lot of noise in the sheer aural assault, Motorhead sense of the word, but had such a full sound, they sounded more like a four piece. And I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a backing tape.

I was really keen to see MOD. I knew the Stormtroopers of Death album like the back of my hand, and I suppose I assumed that Billy Milano’s new band would be more of the same. They were very hardcore / punky, and the moshpit was extremely violent – there were a couple of really unpleasant skinheads who disappeared straight after MOD had finished, and who were there seemingly just to hurt as many metal fans as they could. Although Mr Milano always claimed he wasn’t racist, but just wanted to annoy people, some of the people he seemed to attract represented the more er, right wing elements.

Then Suicidal Tendencies stormed on – they were awesome. Just so full of energy, and although they also classed themselves as ‘hardcore/punk/thrash crossover’ they were ‘thrash’ enough to satisfy my metal demands. Mike Muir was an insane loon of a frontman, and the crowd was really jumping. I had never seen so much crowd surfing before (not entirely possible at Hammersmith Odeon), some people were carried right back past the sound desk. I didn’t really know ST’s albums but I recognized a couple of songs and came away determined to get hold of all the stuff I could lay my hands on. These were the days when a copy of a copy of a copy  on a crappy Boots C90 was acceptable media. I had managed to get myself right up against the crash barriers at the front by the time their set finished, and as they left the stage, I shook hands (well sort of a multi person hi-five) with the bassist, a certain Rob Trujillo, who now plucks the bass strings in Metallica. Claim to fame number one in a series of, er, we’ll see. Rock journo and future resident of the nonces’ wing at Strangeways, Jonathan King (remember him?) was spotted wandering round in a yellow bermuda shirt and shorts combo shortly before the main act. Odd bloke, even before it came out about his ‘tendencies’…

Now time for the headlining act. I’d seen Anthrax at the Hammy O just a few months previously, and I was just a few feet in front of the stage this time, so it had the potential to be even better. It was indeed even better – it’s much more fun throwing yourself around a mosh pit to music like this than stuck rooted to your assigned seat in the Odeon. As far as I remember, it was exactly the same setlist as at the Hammy O, and I didn’t have any complaints about that. The sound was way way inferior, but the atmosphere down the front with a bunch of hairy sweaty mentalists is undeniably better. It took me a few gigs to get the clothing balance right – you don’t want to be turning up in a winter jacket if you’re going down the front (because we certainly don’t want to be queuing for hours at the coat check do we, kids?) but neither do you want to freeze to death waiting for the train home afterwards. Anyway, one of the benefits of squirming and fighting your way to the front, apart from getting to high five the future Metallica bassist, is that you’re in prime position to catch one of the plectrums (plectra?) chucked crowdwards by the current Anthrax bassist.

Frank Bello bass pick Jun 1989

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