Despite all of the uncertainty and turmoil of the last 18 months, it is refreshing to see some things never change, as perfectly exemplified when King Parrot spewed forth from our television screen last weekend, performing in a rehearsal room no bigger than your grandmother’s drawers and possibly twice as hot and stinky!
Youngy is still an unmovable presence out the front, Slatts is still cracking jokes faster than Jim Jefferies can write them, Squiz is getting closer to pulling off the perfect guitar playing splits, Toddy is still in dire need of a hairbrush and Ari still endorses VB where demand still far exceeds supply.
Australian metal fans rejoice, our favourite flightless birds have emerged from the COVID crisis still spitting venom and intent on dismantling the world precisely where they left off.
Launching straight into “Disgrace Yourself”, King Parrot showed little signs of stage rust – possibly due to the fact there was no stage – and systematically set about reminding anyone who may have forgotten that the parrot has displaced the cockatoo atop the Australian native bird tree.
Ripping through a seven-track set that featured classic face-melters like “Psychotherapy and Valium”, “Piss Wreck” and “Shit On The Liver” you could almost sense the boys were about to explode from their cupboard space – moreso in search of air than out of anger – but that one key element that makes King Parrot the benchmark for brutality remained in abundance.
Their propensity for fun with their music.
The boys were hamming it up for the camera, visibly enjoying themselves, and the set was over almost too soon by the time “Bozo” reverbed to a close, a mere two seconds before the countdown clock hit zero.
It would be remiss of me to fail to mention a couple of glaring differences to King Parrot from pre-COVID days, and anyone watching the Livestream would already be nodding in acknowledgement.
Youngy looked resplendent with his flowing mane before it sweat melted itself to his forehead and, I can only assume it must have been cold in Melbourne, because Slatts’ infamous hairy upper cavity remained under wraps for possibly the first set in existence as he kept his flanny on for the duration of the show.
But Ari’s beer cans were empty so the world is good again…
The camera flicked directly over to the mighty US of A where Sir Philip H Anselmo was dominating the impressive stage already, despite the lack of sound.
Anselmo’s presence alone is enough to garner excitement and it came as somewhat of a surprise when he opened the set with “Suicide Note”, complete with keyboards and acoustic guitar.
It was a poignant moment, the vocalist resisting the temptation to dive headlong into his highly anticipated set, instead easing the audience and himself into proceedings before the familiar notes of “New Level” pierced the air and you could almost feel the rush of thousands of people around the world leaping into the air with a renewed level of confidence.
Not long into the song, Anselmo held his arm up high, signalling for The Illegals to stop before demanding the band start again, and this time get it right.
This one moment defined the true character of a man who has always lived and died by his own sword, his insistence on perfection despite the relative sanctity of performing to only 50 people showcasing the pride he takes when it comes to his life and art.
Aside from a splattering of performances with The Illegals dedicated to an entire set of Pantera material, A Vulgar Display Of Pantera is still in its infancy as a project and Anselmo’s insistence that near enough will not be good enough made an emphatic statement from the outset.
Over the next 100 minutes Anselmo ripped out classic after ball tearing classic, covering “Mouth For War”, “Becoming”, “We’ll Grind That Axe For A Long Time”, “War Nerve” and “I’m Broken”, occasionally pausing to relate with the worldwide audience but more often content to retreat into his own musical Utopia, eyes closed, brow furrowed, his whole being transformed to a time when four young upstarts from Arlington, Texas laid claim to being the loudest and baddest metal band the world had seen.
Social interaction has never been Anselmo’s strongpoint – and when you can sing like he does nor should it have to be – but it was testament to his inner joy and reflection that he made several efforts to engage his fans and offer his gratitude.
His stirring speech on the legacy of Pantera enduring three generations and counting rammed home the universal impact Pantera have had on the music world and you could sense that as long as Anselmo has air in his lungs he will be doing his best to continue that legacy.
Closing with “Walk” and “Great Southern Trendkill” Anselmo almost reluctantly dragged himself off stage, the emotion of his performance obviously weighing heavily on his shoulders.
Even the fact the list of songs such as “Domination”, “Cowboys From Hell” and “Cemetary Gates” failed to make the cut quickly faded in significance as the magnitude of what just transpired on stage and witnessed by only 50 people live in person sunk in.
Pantera will never be the same again for obvious and tragic reasons, but you can sense Anselmo knows that and doesn’t lay claim to anything but continuing the band name, legacy, and influence on the youth and fans of today.
And for that, Phil Anselmo, we love you.