The members of PANTERA look back at their first gig with the new lineup
In a recent interview conducted by producer and YouTuber Rick Beato, members of the reformed PANTERA lineup, including Rex Brown on bass, Zakk Wylde on guitar, and Charlie Benante on drums, shared their thoughts on the band’s momentous return to the stage. This historic event marked PANTERA‘s first live performance in over two decades and occurred in December of the previous year at Mexico’s Hell & Heaven Metal Fest.
“Dude, I was a nervous wreck,” Charlie said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “And it was like 53 degrees [Fahrenheit]; it was freezing.. And I remember taking two shots that night, of Black Tooth, just to calm myself down because I was so anxious. And we got up there, intro started, first song kicked in, and it was, like, ‘Wow, there it is.'”
Added Rex: “That’s what I call the shot across the world right there. That one little moment of time, and I remember it, because I just felt this huge relief come on. Because we had been in a hangar, with these two guys, for two weeks, getting this thing down with the lights and the production on this thing for nine, 10 hours a day playing the songs.”
Zakk chimed in: “But I remember the funny thing was, ’cause there was no warm-up shows; we didn’t do any club shows. So the first show was the one in front of forty thousand people or whatever it was… For me, I felt there’s… Like the adrenaline, kind of like my first Ozzy [Osbourne] show, that I did in an arena when I was, like, 20 years old. So for me, I was just, like, ‘Wow, this is pretty insane.'”
Charlie continued: “This is the first time people are gonna see it. And then it’s gonna be everywhere after tonight. So if we don’t bring it, it’s gonna be like, ‘Oh, I saw it. It wasn’t so good.’ And like I said, I had a hundred things going through my head: ‘I don’t wanna play this too fast. I wanna catch that groove as if I’m riding a surfboard.'”
Rex said: “And we did. And it paid off. And it was great.”
Charlie added: “After that show, it was, like, ‘Phew.'”
PANTERA‘s 2023 lineup features two pivotal members from the band’s iconic era: Rex Brown on bass and Philip Anselmo handling vocals.
Together with Anselmo and Brown, joined by Zakk Wylde on guitar and Charlie Benante on drums, they have embarked on an extensive tour, headlining major festivals in South America, Asia, North America, and Europe. Additionally, they are supporting METALLICA during an extensive North American stadium tour spanning 2023 and 2024.
The formation of this lineup was reportedly approved by the estates of PANTERA‘s founders, the late drummer Vincent “Vinnie Paul” Abbott and guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. It’s noteworthy that Rex Brown had previously expressed reservations about touring with Zakk Wylde as part of PANTERA, making his change of heart a point of interest.
In March of 2023, PANTERA headlined Japan’s Loud Park festival, marking their much-anticipated comeback. The “limited” two-day event unfolded on March 25 at Intex Osaka in Osaka and March 26 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City near Tokyo.
Prior to this, in December, PANTERA treated audiences to seven electrifying shows in Mexico and South America. However, Rex Brown had to abruptly depart the Latin American tour after testing positive for COVID-19. Filling in for him at select shows was Derek Engemann, bassist for CATTLE DECAPITATION, who also collaborates with Anselmo in PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS and SCOUR.
It’s important to note that, until his passing, Vinnie Paul and Anselmo had maintained a strained relationship, stemming from issues related to the tragic death of Dimebag. Vinnie Paul and Dimebag co-founded PANTERA and, after the band’s dissolution in 2003, went on to form DAMAGEPLAN. Tragically, on December 8, 2004, while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag was fatally shot on stage by a disturbed individual suffering from schizophrenia who falsely believed that members of PANTERA were intercepting his thoughts.