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  • Down - The Henry Fonda, Los Angeles

    Tue, 27 Nov 2007 10:34:48

    Down - The Henry Fonda, Los Angeles - Zeppelin who?

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    Whether or not Led Zeppelin cross the pond for a U.S. reunion show may not matter anymore. On Friday, in front of a sold out crowd at the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood, Down proved to be the reigning kings of hard rock. They ignited the venue with a fire that only seasoned veterans of their respective caliber could.

    Fronted by ex-Pantera mainman and veritable metal legend Phil Anselmo, the band command attention. Not to mention that its ranks features guitar gods Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity), and Kirk Windstein (Crowbar) , as well as low-end monster, Rex Brown (Pantera), and skinsman Jimmy Bower (Eyehategod). They are far beyond a super group.

    Launching into "The Path" from their 2007 offering Down III: Over the Under, the band immediately began a near two and a half hour onslaught. "Lysergik Funeral Procession" transported the crowd back to the days when rock ruled the roost with snaky, stoned riffs and Anselmo’s unmistakable roar. Keenan’s fretwork on "Hail the Leaf" summoned the ghost of Jimi Hendrix, as Windstein held down the heaviest grooves this side of Heaven and Hell. However, the band truly exceeds stoner rock bliss and enters classic rock territory during the slower fare.

    Clean and sober, Anselmo has never sounded this good. His voice was passionate, powerful and pulverizing all at once. "Learn from this Mistake" proved an ethereal, bluesy rumination on addiction that exploded with a perfect lament from Anselmo. A rarity, "Jail" drowned out melodic guitars with tribal drums. Few rock bands could play this diverse of a set and nail everything, but Down did. Another highlight was when Anselmo dedicated "Lifer" to slain Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell. It was a fitting tribute as Keenan launched into a riff that would make Tony Iommi smile and undoubtedly make Dime proud.

    Classic Down set closer "Bury Me In Smoke" was tied in with the new track "Nothing in Return," and it proved the perfect culmination to the perfect rock show. Zeppelin can stay in England, because America has their hard rock saviors in Down.

    -—Rick Florino

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