Rupp Arena – Lexington, KY
February 7, 2024
w/ Lamb of God & Nest
Pantera Live in Lexington, KY: The first time I ever saw the mighty Pantera was on February 23, 1995, when they played Riverfront Coliseum with Type O Negative opening up. It was on the Far Beyond Driven tour, and the band was at its greatest. Now, one thing you have to know about Cincinnati back then was there were no general admission shows permitted in the city. After the tragedy that happened at The Who show back in 1979, festival seating was banned in Cincinnati. So when we got to the show, there were blue metal folding chairs set up on the floor of the Coliseum. We took our seats and enjoyed Type O Negative, who were riding high on the success of their Bloody Kisses album.
After Type O finished their set, I decided to go up to grab my merch and a cold Pepsi. Yes, this old man was only a ripe 17 years old at the time. When I made my way back into the arena area I was in disbelief over what I was seeing. The blue folding chairs that had been so neatly lined up were now flying and being passed back towards the back of the floor. An usher, probably 80 years old, walked up the stairs past me with a trickle of blood coming from his forehead. He just looked at me with a smile and shrugged. The fans had spoken. There was only one way to see Pantera, and it did not involve chairs. I will never forget that night for many reasons, the flying chairs just being one of them. But it was the night that I saw Phil Anselmo, Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie Paul, and Rex Brown, collectively known as Pantera, for the first time.
I would see Pantera several times after that show in 1995, but they never would be the same. As Phil Anselmo got deeper into his drug addiction, he became verbally abusive to fans, and his performances went downhill steadily. It didn’t matter though. If Pantera was coming to town, I was there.
A lot has happened since those days. We had a breakup, side projects, and somehow we now live in a world where there is no Dimebag and no Vinne Paul. So, like many people, when I heard that Phil and Rex were recruiting Zakk Wylde (guitar) and Charlie Benante (drums) to go back on the road as Pantera, I was unsure. I mean, could there be a Pantera without the Abbott brothers? The simple answer to that question was and remains, no. But after seeing Pantera live in Lexington, KY this past Wednesday night, I can say that is not what this tour is about.
From the moment the lights went out to the time they came back on an hour and a half later, Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul Abbott were very much a part of the show. From video montages to frequent mentions and fingers pointed up in the air, I felt like the spirits of Dime and Vinnie were very much present in the room. The brothers were also a big part of the merch offered at the show as well. I could not resist buying an Abbott Brothers t-shirt. On the back of the other tour shirt that I bought it reads, “For the fans, for the brothers, for the legacy” and I truly believe that is what the tour is all about.
The set is basically a greatest hits set, with a couple of gems built in. These songs haven’t been played live in so long, so it is nice to hear them after all this time. And I know what you are thinking, you cannot replace Dimebag Darrell or Vinnie Paul, and you are absolutely correct. And after seeing the show, I sincerely don’t think that is what they are trying to do. Just as you can never replace them, you can also never bring them back. But what you can do is carry on their legacy. And who better to do it than two of the original members of Pantera, along with two of the guys who knew and loved the brothers the most with Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante?
I wish the story of Pantera would have had a happier ending. I wish the hurt feelings could have been healed and the fences mended. I wish Darrell and Vinnie were still here today. But getting to see Pantera live in Lexington, KY in 2024 brought me some type of closure or peace when it comes to the band. It was great to see Phil Anselmo healthy and sounding amazing. It was awesome seeing Rex Brown live after all of these years. And what a treat getting to watch Zakk and Charlie pay tribute to their friends. If you are a doubter, I get it. Pantera is and will always be a deeply personal experience. But for me, the legacy lives on!
– A New Level
– Mouth For War
– Strength Beyond Strength
– I’m Broken
– Suicide Note Part II
– 5 Minutes Alone
– This Love
– Cowboys From Hell
– F***king Hostile