Pantera performing at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON on 02/26/2024. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Toronto, Canada – 2024 will bring a tragic 20th Anniversary of an event that will forever bleed the hearts of metal fans, and quite honestly, should bleed the hearts of music fans of all genres. On December 8, 2004, during a concert in Columbus, Ohio, Darrell Lance Abbott, best known as the cutting edge, once in a lifetime guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell of the band Pantera was shot and killed onstage. Such a massive loss, and the end of the band that arguably carried heavy metal music on their shoulders through the 1990s.

Then, 2022 rolled around and original members, vocalist Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown, decided that it was the perfect time for a reunion. They added legendary guitarist Zakk Wylde to fill the massive shoes of Dimebag and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante to replace the late guitarist’s brother Vinnie Paul, who very sadly passed away in 2018 from coronary artery disease at the too young age of 54.

On May 20, 2023, the newly formed creators of “groove metal” played their first gig in Dayton, Florida, and has since been on the road, having even played some shows on Metallica’s 2023 “72 Seasons Tour”. On August 12, 2023, Pantera rolled into Toronto’s Budweiser Stage for the first time in over 20 years with Lamb of God. As the calendar turned over to 2024, the band steam rolled back into Toronto on February 26. Toronto is the only city to see the band twice during the same tour. Still with Lamb of God, they also had support from Detroit’s SNAFU. And we were there!


Scott Curnow of SNAFU performing at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON on 02/26/2024. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Not to be confused with the 1970s R&B/rock band from England, S.N.A.F.U. is a hardcore/thrash crossover from Detroit, Michigan. Although the band first came together in 2006, years of challenges resulted in the band not releasing their first album until 2013. The band has released two additional albums since, and have gained some traction over the years, kicking ass in live performances over the country. Their brand of punk/metal fusion sees the band kicking off the 2024 leg of Pantera’s “For The Fans, For The Brothers, For Legacy” tour.

A video montage flashes on the screen that tells us “This is not the time to give birth, for this is the time to die!” before the band blasts onto the stage delivering their heavy riffs to a somewhat sparse crowd to start the evening. The tardy fans don’t stop the Detroit foursome from kicking the show into high gear early, bringing the energy and doing what they do best. Kicking ass!!!

Lamb of God

John Campbell of Lamb of God performing at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON on 02/26/2024. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

I have been fortunate over the years to have seen Richmond, Virginia’s Lamb of God a few times. Most recently, in 2022 during Megadeth’s Metal Tour of the Year. As a spoiler, these guys always kick it hard.

The band’s iconic curtain hides the band, and stage from the crowd. The intro to their 2020 track “Momento Mori” plays over the PA of Scotiabank Arena. 100 seconds later, the curtain falls as lead singer Randy Blythe screams. The singer is revealed, dreadlocks gone but looking ferociously the same as the last time I saw them live.

After our allowable photo time in the pit, I head to my seat, and as I go to adjust my earplugs, I drop one in the seating row in front of me. DAMN! A key piece of “equipment” is gone, and I have to listen to the band for the next 45 minutes or so without hearing protection. Fuck! They are loud as hell, and I quickly realize how much I miss my youth, when I NEVER wore ear plugs. Really, for me, there is nothing like a LOUD heavy metal concert. I quickly grow nostalgic. I miss this sound!

The arena has filled in nicely by now, and everybody in the venue is on their feet. It’s another thing I miss. Not sure about your city, but Toronto music fans have become as pretentious as the fans of the city’s hockey team. I have been to a number of arena shows over the past handful of years that see people sitting through the bands’ performances. I hate it! But not tonight!! As the mosh pit raged on the floor, the crowd here tonight was on fire. We even had a banana in the mosh pit, that surprisingly (or perhaps not) didn’t get squished.

Randy Blythe of Lamb of God performing at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON on 02/26/2024. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Blythe chimes in halfway through the band’s set saying that they are here for one reason only… “To fuck this place up!” He goes on to tell the Toronto crowd that this is the only repeat city on this tour, and that he must tell all the other people who complain that the tour doesn’t go through their city, that they aren’t going there because they have to play Toronto twice!! It brings a massive roar from this amazing crowd, who are completely engaged with what is happening before them.

As always, Lamb of God was FIRE!!! The problem with a band this good playing a supporting role, is that you are always left wanting more. This night was no different. And on another high note, after the band’s set, I asked the dude in front of me to check if there was an earplug at his feet…. and there was!!! As much as I love the loudness, it just isn’t in my best interest to not wear hearing protection. Especially since I already have some hearing loss as a result of too much heavy metal!!


Zakk Wylde of Pantera performing at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON on 02/26/2024. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Although it’s the 2nd time through for Pantera on this tour, it’s the first time I’ve seen the band in, well, 32 years. I had only caught the act once prior, and that was in 1992 when the band rolled through Toronto, with White Zombie. It’s one of my top 5 most memorable concerts of all time. I unfortunately missed the August 2023 date here, so this was bound to be nostalgic.

As with Lamb, a curtain covers the stage. A video montage dedicated to the Abbott brothers plays on the screens hanging from either side of the stage. It’s a time to reflect, and while it brings a huge level of sadness, it brings a smile that we lived in a time that these two musicians graced us with their presence. The curtain drops, and the band screams into “A New Level”. Phil is sporting a SNAFU t-shirt, in bare feet, and he, Zakk Wylde, Rex Brown, and Charlie Benante are killing it. Through “Mouth for War” and “Strength Beyond Strength”, the band sounds amazing. By now, they’ve had almost a year of playing gigs together, but I’m still taken aback a little at how cohesive they are.

As my photo duties are complete, and I head back to my assigned seat, Anselmo chimes in that he hears this is the only city that got 2 dates on this tour and asks to “Light this place up so I can see everybody!” The house lights come on, revealing a now full house (aside from the 300 level of the arena that was not open for ticket sales). The crowd roars!!

Phil Anselmo of Pantera performing at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON on 02/26/2024. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

While the show is raw in that the guys are up their banging out track after track, we still get a pleasant stage show with fireballs blasting out during “I’m Broken”, and deep track cuts like “Suicide Note Pt. II”. During “5 Minutes Alone”, when the beat drops, the crowd around me are all banging their heads hard, in unison. I smile! It’s such a cool experience to have the crowd here all for the same reason… the music!!!

Another video dedication to Dimebag and Vinny plays during the moody track “Floods”. The montage plays throughout the whole track, with intertwined video of thunder, lightning and pouring rain. Another really cool visual, doing nothing but adding to the already unreal spectacle unfolding before us. Fanboy? Hmmmm… perhaps! But I typically take it simply for what it is, and it’s pretty damned fantastic!

As the show progresses, I do catch Anselmo’s voice as he interacts with the crowd. It’s friggin’ deep, and raw sounding. Through month’s of belting out his style of vocals, there’s no doubt it’s got to be taxing. But it 100% is not reflective in his singing, as he musters up every ounce to belt out tunes!

Word on the street is that the guys are getting along stupendously. There is even some chatter about the band staying together once this tour wraps up (this was the second last date of the tour), and there is even a hint of some new music on the horizon. Zakk Wylde is a guitar god in my opinion, and he has filled in amazingly for his predecessor. What I’m curious about is whether he will adopt the same Pantera sound, or will he add some elements of his own style? The great thing is that I think we’ll know before too long!

“Walk on home, boy!!”


Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Pantera Online

Show Date: February 28, 2024