On this date in history, 7/29/2023, Pantera triumphantly returned to Noblesville, Indiana to play the second show of their North American tour at the venue currently known as Ruoff Music Center (but forever known as Deer Creek by all of us cool kids)! Lamb Of God provided main support and Snafu opened the show. 

The level of anticipation for this event cannot be overstated and the amount of online debate concerning the legitimacy of calling this band Pantera at all has been positively exhausting for a lot of fans. Last night put a lot of that debate to rest and rendered a lot of the arguments obsolete, because the 2023 incarnation of the legendary band came out and dropped an absolutely phenomenal show on the near capacity crowd. Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown, along with Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante (filling in for the late Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul) paid loving tribute to the beloved Abbott brothers and served up a collection of Pantera classics that thrilled the newer generations that never got to see the band in their heyday along with a large group of us old timers who still vividly remember why this band earned their reputation in the first place. Anselmo’s vocals were on par with when he was in his prime and his stage presence was self assured, confident, relaxed, and thankful. He was visibly moved by the outpouring of love and sheer volume of the Indiana crowd. Brown’s bass anchored the bottom end with authority and provided the musical interface between the past and present members, balancing tradition and a respectful interpretation from the new guys. Speaking of the new guys, both Benante and Wylde played the songs masterfully and managed to pay tribute to Dime and Vinnie while still maintaining their own distinct superstar personas. These guys are legends in the metal world, but they were enlisted to make this tribute a magical experience and they played their roles to perfection. Much credit is due to the stage crew, also. The staging, lights, and sound were absolutely fantastic. Massive respect to everyone on that stage in putting this experience together. Of course it doesn’t replace or erase the Pantera of the glory days, and that is perfectly okay. This current version of Pantera is fully alive and bringing a whole new audience the exhilaration of these amazing songs in a live setting, which is as it should be. Pantera was always designed to be best experienced in concerts, festivals, sweaty clubs and anywhere music fans gather to enjoy live music.

Lamb Of God played a tremendous set as well, getting everyone pumped up for the main event and vocalist Randy Blythe offered his own words of praise for Pantera and for the Abbott brothers specifically. Snafu did a nice job with their quick opening set and clearly relished the opportunity to be part of this historic show. 

This was a thrilling event that I had almost given up hope of ever experiencing again. I was fortunate to see Pantera four times from 1995 to 2001 and it is nearly impossible to overstate how important their legacy is to Metal music. Last night was triumphant and I salute Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown, Zakk Wylde, and Charlie Benante for bringing Pantera back and for such a loving honor to the lives of Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott and Vinnie Paul Abbott.

By Mr. Williams 

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