Pantera Heavy On The Metal

Offers living proof that metal still rules with a raucous Ozzfest reunion of sorts.

CLEVELAND -- Heavy metal lives. At least it did for one unforgettable

night in the Flats of Cleveland.

None of the some odd 4,000 fans who turned out for this sold-out show could

have expected it. The concert was different than other Pantera shows, different

from any show most had seen more than likely, different in all the right ways.

On this Tuesday night the crowd would witness not only one of the most

raucous bands alive offering living proof that the power of metal is still very

much alive, but along with it a surprise Ozzfest reunion, a mock wedding and

two unforgettable encores by the masters of metal, Pantera.

As the band launched into their two-hour set at the Nautica Stage in the Flats,

the venue quickly transformed into a giant moshpit of bodies twisting, jerking

and head-banging everywhere. The energy was surging from the start, but

exploded in near hysteria when lead screecher Phil Anselmo screamed, "Is

heavy metal dead? Take a look around you. Heavy metal isn't dead!"

The tone was set. The metal assault had begun.

A rollicking version of "I'm Broken" from Pantera's 1994 release, Far Beyond

Driven further encouraged the rock 'n' roll insanity to new heights as fans

flung their bodies around in knee-jerk reactions to the bone-crushing power of

Pantera.

"This Love," off the 1992 Vulgar Display Of Power was played with a little

help from, as Anselmo described it, "some old friends."

Metal comrades Drain STH and Life Of Agony -- though not on the bill -- made a

special appearance on stage for the chorus, loading the night's lineup with

even more dangerous artillery. "This is like a reunion of the best tour all year,

the Ozzfest tour," shouted Anselmo. "And I don't think (Ozzy Osborne) can hear

us right now, but let's see if we can make him hear us." Soon, the audience

began its almost ritual chant, "Ozzy, Ozzy" to a Dimebag Darrell version of the

Black Sabbath classic "Iron Man."

Handing his guitar to Anselmo, Dimebag approached the microphone to sing.

To help him along, the tattooed and obviously well-oiled Anselmo hammered

out the opening riff of Sabbath's "Paranoid" while Dimebag ran amuck onstage

shouting, "I Love You All!" in true Ozzy fashion. Anselmo's guitar continued the

Black Sabbath tribute while Dimebag shrieked into the microphone. Fans

roared in approval.

But they hadn't seen anything yet. The strangest was yet to come.

Perhaps the last thing you would expect to see at a Pantera show is a wedding,

but that's exactly what the crowd got. Fans and friends of the band Dave

Guidish, better known as Shuu, and his girlfriend, Erin Simon, were brought

onstage to be married by none other than the Right Rev. Phil.

Reading his lines from a sheet of paper as "The Wedding March" was played in

the background, the reverend proceeded to "marry these crazed, drunk S.O.B.'s

in holy, or unholy matrimony."

With a stage full of metal heads, spilled beer and clouds of smoke, the reverend

closed the touching ceremony before launching right back into the metal.

"Domination" heated up the already smoking crowd as the audience pounded

the floor like they were stamping out fires. By the time they got to the title track

from their 1990 release, Cowboys From Hell, it was clear that Anselmo

and the boys had proved beyond any reasonable doubt that metal had not met

its maker.

Rather it was still making its rounds of America with Pantera leading the way.

The metal makers wrapped up their set with two deadly and destructive

encores. The first was "Walk" from the 1992 Vulgar Display Of Power,

and the second, "A New Level," from the same album. If fans were not

convinced by this point of the band's powerful arsenal, they would never be.

In the end, Pantera had kicked Cleveland's ass. Holding nothing back, they

proved that despite reports to the contrary, metal is still alive and living, for at

least the night, in Cleveland, U.S.A.

As Anselmo walked offstage, he reminded the audience, "Spread the word!"

But he didn't have to say anything. [Mon., Sept. 22,

1997, 9 a.m. PST]