Live Review: Down: NOLA Throwdown (Live Stream)
Arguably a King among Supergroups, Down have have spent the past 30 years appearing and disappearing from the scene depending on the priorities of vocalist Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Scour, Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals), guitarist Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity), guitarist Kirk Windstein (Crowbar), bassist Pat Bruders (Goatwhore), and drummer Jimmy Bower (Crowbar, Eyehategod) around their myriad of other projects. After all, idle hands are the Devils workshop. Even though it’s not billed as such, returning to the stage to play this show at the Fillmore in New Orleans, Louisiana effectively marks their 30th Anniversary having formed in 1991 and although they haven’t released any new material in the last seven years, each one of their recorded works remains a classic of sonic excess in it’s purist form, Bluesy Stoner Sludge Metal at its finest.
The stage is bathed in green light with a huge logo flag behind the band and while other bands may have stage blocks, each member of Down have a rug of their own to stand on if they so desire and the seasoned veterans take to the stage amid feedback before getting into their stride in front of a packed audience with “Lysergik Funeral Procession” from 2002’s “Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow“. It seems a little loose at the start, as if the band are warming up and a little rusty before the crushing finale brings it home with a barefoot Anselmo shouting “lets jam it!“, however when they get into “Hail The Leaf“, normal service is resumed. It has to be said that Anselmo is in fine vocal form and his element, remaining the consummate frontman; the band may be a little older, wiser and more weather beaten but class is permanent and they sure as hell know how to put on a live show. As you might expect “Lifer” gets dedicated to the dearly departed Abbott brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul and gets a sing-a-long moment as the audience raise their collective beer glasses in fitting tribute before the career spanning set continues with “N.O.D.” from 2007’s “Over The Under“. You can’t escape the drug references in the lyrics with LSD and Marijuana getting mentioned at various points but that doesn’t stop the material from carrying that sonic weight that we need to see us through and that has always been part of the lure of Down and “Ghosts Along The Mississippi” and “Rehab” find the band in their element with rip roaring renditions. That second album may have had its detractors in the critics but the Riff Lords that are Windstein and Keenan made their presence felt on those songs and they work for us and the audience at the Filmore. It’s great to see a live show with fans once more; there is no doubt that the musicians feed off their energy as do those watching on the stream; the sound and video quality is second to none and when Anselmo makes a heartfelt comment about loving to play shows and enjoying it more with age, there isn’t any doubt that he means it. “Stone The Crow” and “Bury Me In Smoke” bring the house down with a circle pit going off during the heavier grooves of the latter, the chugging rhythms setting it off before during that final elongated riff section a group of fans get welcomed onto the stage, trading places with the band and playing out the show for a couple of minutes which they do in style [8.5/10]