Well, it finally happened after many years. Pantera hit the stage and set it on fire last night at At Mexico HELL & HEAVEN METAL FEST to the delight of legions of fans. The Pantera reunion has sparked much controversy since its inception. Fans are divided due to the absence of the the bands co-founders, the Abbott brothers.
It was first reported in July that Anselmo and Brown would unite with Wylde and Benante for a world tour under the PANTERA banner.
The band will headline a number of other major festivals across North America, South America and Europe and stage 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.
Last night, December 2nd Pantera played their first show in over 20 years, and it was totally action packed with high energy.
This was the groove-metal inaugural gig with their new lineup original members Philip Anselmo and Rex Brown were joined by longtime friends Charlie Benante, Anthrax and Zakk Wylde, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society. and the start of a long tour schedule that’s set for South America this winter, and eventually Europe and the United States.
Fans at Mexico’s Hell & Heaven Metal Fest who were lucky enough to witness this historic event quickly flooded the internet with videos. Pantera‘s stacked, 15-song setlist was their most beloved material, including their cover of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” during which a tribute video to the band’s founding brothers, Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul — who passed in 2004 and 2018, respectively — played on the screen behind them.
Earlier this week, Benante told Metal Edge: “The first show with PANTERA is going to be kinda nerve-wracking. I’m probably gonna need a couple of drinks to be honest with you, to kinda settle me down… I need to get that first PANTERA show under the belt.”
Asked if he’s looking forward to any performing any particular PANTERA tracks, Benante said”: “I enjoy each one of them. When I look down at the list, I’m like, ‘Oh, I like this song,’ that type of thing. There’s two odd songs in there too that I don’t think they played, consistently, throughout [their] sets. Those are the two songs I enjoy playing the most, I think.”
Regarding the criticism floating around social media about relaunching the PANTERA name more than two decades since the group played their last show, and all the chatter about it not being a true reunion without Vinnie and Dime, Benante said: “First off, it’s not a reunion. It’s a celebration of the music. If you saw the thing that went out, it was like, ‘PANTERA featuring…’ the four of us. Those two guys are a part of this and who else is there? Vinnie and Dime are not here, so, Philip and Rex, they were that band, too. [They] deserve to be there as much as anybody. I see the negative stuff sometimes, and I’m just like, ‘This is so ridiculous, man.’ Just enjoy hearing those songs again.”
Benante told SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” about how he plans to approach the PANTERA gig: “I can’t go do this as the drummer from ANTHRAX because it would be a different sound completely. So the way I’m gonna do that is if you close your eyes, it’s gonna sound like it’s Vinnie, basically. And that’s how it’s gonna be. The sound is gonna sound exactly like him.”
Wylde said that he had a similar mindset. “You approach it the same way as you do when I’m playing with Ozzy,” he said. “Obviously I’ve gotta learn Randy Rhoads‘s stuff and I’ve gotta learn Jake‘s E. Lee stuff, and when I was doing the BLACK SABBATH stuff, you learn it and do it as faithful as you can. Charlie‘s gotta learn all of Vinnie‘s parts. You approach it as if you’re in a cover band. When we do the ZAKK SABBATH stuff,” referring to his BLACK SABBATHcover band, “I don’t start changing lyrics midway through ‘War Pigs’. You learn the songs — so that’s what you do.”
A year ago, Anselmo said that he was up for reuniting with Brown for a special tour celebrating the music of PANTERA. The 54-year-old singer, who has spent the past few years playing a PANTERA-centric set with his solo band, THE ILLEGALS, discussed the possibility of re-teaming with his former PANTERA bandmate during an interview with Brazil’s Inside With Paulo Baron. Asked if he and Rex would be open to playing some shows in celebration of PANTERA‘s legacy, Anselmo said: “If Rex and I had a show to play, or we were ever gonna be on stage again together, I would welcome it with open arms. I love Rex. And he’d be the same way. We’re brothers forever. So playing on stage together, or doing some shows together, is not out of the question. It could happen.”
In April 2021, Rex told Eonmusic that he and Philip still get offers for a PANTERA tribute tour. “But if you don’t have the other guys in the band, it’s not going to sound the same,” he said. “If we were ever to do something like that, it would have to be spot-on, or I wouldn’t do it. It would be a tribute.”
Talk about a possible “Pantera” reunion” intensified when Anselmo regularly joined Wylde‘s BLACK LABEL SOCIETY to perform PANTERA‘s song “I’m Broken” during DOWN‘s 2014 stint on the “Revolver Golden Gods Tour”. That buzz only got stronger after Brown joined the jam on May 23, 2014 when the tour swung through Texas.
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.
Watch fan-shot footage below, and check out the setlist, courtesy of setlist.fm.
Pantera setlist, 12/2/22:
A New Level
Mouth for War
Strength Beyond Strength
Becoming (with Throes of Rejection outro)
I’m Broken (with By Demons Be Driven outro)
Use My Third Arm
Drag the Waters
Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit
Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath cover, with Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul tribute video)
5 Minutes Alone
Cowboys From Hell
¡Mamá @scorpions ya está en el @HHOpenAir ! pic.twitter.com/XFCybQASty— LaCarteleraMx (@LaCarteleraMX) December 3, 2022
¡El momento esperado!— LaCarteleraMx (@LaCarteleraMX) December 3, 2022
Al @foropegasomx llega @Pantera quienes inician en nuestro país su show mundial y el @HHOpenAir es el lugar para iniciar con 'A New Level'.@ZakkWyldeBLS pic.twitter.com/EyyWKGYPWE
¡Una gran noche para @Pantera en el @HHOpenAir !@ZakkWyldeBLS pic.twitter.com/wWbgyKwxap— LaCarteleraMx (@LaCarteleraMX) December 3, 2022
20年ぶりの PANTERA！！Welcome baaaack!!!!🔥🔥🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/Yvb2TftUdL— Sin Natsume (@Sin23Ou) December 3, 2022