The end of 2011 is close, and 2012 is just around the corner. It’s been another year of heavy metal thunder, classic rock comebacks, and massive arena shows. Like most years, the early months were slow, and surprisingly it was slim pickings at Jones Beach this summer, usually a stronghold of hard rock concerts. But the fall more than made up for it, with massive headliners and jam-packed weeks of rock and metal.
Here are the top 5 concerts the NY Hard Rock Examiner enjoyed in 2011:
DOWN at Best Buy Theater, Thursday April 28th: Is there anyone more metal than Phil Anselmo? The stoner metal gods in DOWN always bring a crushing, euphoric show with them, and the Best Buy Theater was filled with mosh pits and crowd surfers paying ode to Phil’s messianic screaming. Even getting nailed by Kirk Windstein’s guitar during Lifer didn’t stop the singer from delivering one of the best shows this Examiner has ever witnessed, matched by an equally enthusiastic crowd, and as blood poured down his face (see picture above) there was no questioning that Phil Anselmo bleeds pure metal. Read my review of that show here, and the companion Starland Ballroom date here.
Rammstein at Izod Center, Thursday May 5th: After a ten year drought, German pyro-metallers Rammstein returned to US soil with a vengeance. The Izod show saw towering explosions, facemask flamethrowers, and band members set on fire all to the soundtrack of thundering heavy metal. Little touches like foam cannons and crowdsurfing in a lifeboat egged on crowd participation, and the audience sang practically the entire first half of Du Hast. From a production and spectacle perspective, Rammstein is simply the definition of all the piss and thunder a heavy metal concert should be. Read my review of that show here.
Mayhem Festival at Comcast Theatre, Sunday July 24th: The annual Mayhem Festival has become THE main summer metal show, and the 2011 incarnation boasted both great openers and monster headliners over an 11 hour day. Machinehead easily stole the second stage, generating massive pits in the parking lots with their first US show in almost two years, and a sweltering day of drinking and moshing was topped off by Megadeth, Godsmack, and Disturbed on the main stage. While the lack of a NY metro date was unfortunate for those of us in the 5 boroughs, the weekend road trip to Hartford was more than worth it for these titans of every genre and subgenre of heavy metal. Read my review of Mayhem ‘11 here.
Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax at Yankee Stadium, Wednesday September 14th: After years of rumors and anticipation, The Big 4 of thrash metal finally made it to New York City in a crushing display of raw metal madness. Easily the best rock concert of 2011, over 40,000 fans filled Yankee Stadium starting as early as 1pm to catch Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer. All three bands delivered premium performances with tons of crowdsurfing and audience participation, but once darkness fell and Slayer’s final screams faded, Metallica truly owned the night. A two hour setlist of classic hits as well as surprises like the instrumental Orion were topped by a group jam on Motorhead’s Overkill with members of all the bands plus Testament. Anyone lucky enough to be at this show was witness to a serious historical night. Read my review of the Big 4 here.
Guns n’ Roses at Izod Center, Thursday November 17th: While it couldn’t top the all-star nature of the Big 4, Axl Rose’s triumphant return to the road was probably the second biggest show of the year. With his new 8 man band, Axl didn’t go on stage until 11pm, but made up for it with a staggering three 3 hour set that included every major hit as well as deeper cuts like Estranged and covers of The Who and AC/DC. With plenty of pyro and video effects, GnR brought the full arena spectacle and sounded amazing on every song, and Axl’s voice was as powerful as ever. Not everyone made it to the 2am finish, but those who did left hearing every possible song they could’ve hoped for. Read my review of this show here.
Metal Masters Clinic at Best Buy Theater Monday September 12th: It was barely promoted and less than a thousand New Yorkers turned out for the free clinic hosted by members of Anthrax and Megadeth, but those who showed up got to see surprise guest Phil Anselmo belt out Pantera classics A New Level and F*cking Hostile for the first time in a decade. With Kerry King of Slayer joining David Ellefson, Mike Portnoy, and most of Anthrax, it was an all-star jam of epic proportions that will forever be seared into the memory of fans in attendance, and on top of that, it was followed by a full Anthrax concert. Read my review here, and watch my front row video of A New Level in the left sidebar.
Check out more photos from this past year in concerts in the left side bar slideshow for more metal memories. And even as 2011 draws to a close, 2012 is looking bright! Tours featuring metal leaders Lamb of God, Megadeth and Machinehead are all booked for the next few months, Rammstein will be returning for a Nassau Coliseum show in April, and Roger Waters will be bringing his epic performance of The Wall to baseball stadiums this summer. On top of that, Slipknot will be headlining Mayhem Festival 2012 for their first US tour in years, and none other than Black Sabbath will be embarking on a world tour as well.
Best holiday wishes to all rock and metal fans, and a happy, healthy, and METAL new year!
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