The sign was posted Friday night in the lobby of Old National Centre.
It read Scott Ian and Charlie Benante wouldn’t be performing with their band Anthrax that night in the Egyptian Room.
Turns out Ian contracted a viral infection on Wednesday that forced him to be hospitalized near Los Angeles, while Benante returned to New York to be with his terminally ill mother.
Obviously those are bad circumstances that would force most bands to cancel shows or an entire tour. But for a group that’s seen its share of adversity over its 31 years of existence, Anthrax found a way to keep it together.
In this case, the opening acts pitched in during Anthrax’s set. Testament drummer Gene “The Atomic Clock” Hoglan replaced Benante behind the kit and Death Angel guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar played Ian’s parts on a number of songs.
It seemed like singer Joey Belladonna and bassist Frank Bello were working extra hard to appease the audience, particularly when they only performed as a four-piece on raging new tracks like “Earth on Hell” and “Fight ’Em Till You Can’t.” Lead guitarist Rob Caggiano has enough meat to his instrument to keep the sound full anyway.
But a lot of credit goes to Hoglan, who played back-to-back sets like a champ. It’s not like this music is Sunday morning fare. The playing is fast and furious, and Hoglan handled it perfectly. If there was any disappointment from the crowd, it wasn’t noticeable. There wasn’t much moshing, even during the song “Caught in a Mosh” from which the practice got its name. That’s probably due mostly to the venue threatening to eject overly zealous attendees. It still didn’t stop some from turning manic during thrash classics like “Indians” and “I Am the Law.”
As much hardship as Anthrax has endured over the years, this was merely a blip on the calamity map. Though their set was limited to 12 songs, the show was overwhelming confirmation of their resolve.