When I first saw the tour announcement that Pantera were going out on tour and that they would be playing at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, I thought it was a prank. Who could they get to play guitar and fill the shoes of Dimebag on guitar and who would they get on drums to take the place of Vinnie Paul? It just didn’t seem like it would be possible… Then I saw it was Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante and I knew I had to see this show. On Saturday night, Pantera took the stage for their headlining set to thunderous cheering, but lets step back to the start of the show.
The show opened with Spirit In The Room. This was a pretty fun set to shoot and gave us a pretty good idea of how tough the shooting conditions fort the night were going to be. The photo pit between the stage and the eager crowd was filled with security and video camera platforms, along with road cases and speakers. There was not a lot of room to maneuver with 15 plus photographers all trying to get the perfect shot. Luckily, most of the photographers there were seasoned veterans of multiple heavy metal shows and most of us knew each other from shooting over the years. There were a couple of folks who had I had never seen before and from their behavior, I took this to be their first or second shoot. These were the folks hoisting their cameras high overhead blocking the view for everyone behind them, It was great to see so many familiar faces in the photo pit, including running into my buddy Dustin Jack, who surprised me in the pit during the Spirit In The Room set. Life is always better when your friends are there.
I enjoyed shooting the Spirit In The Room first three songs and since all the members were wearing black, I was able too get some moodier shots in the bright early evening sunshine. I will just add that if a band wants to get followers and sell tickets, they really need to have more of a social media presence. Trying to do my pre show research on this band yielded very little information.
Spirit In The Room is:
It was time for Lamb of God to take the stage. Lamb of God or LoG has been around since 1994 but used to be known as “Burn the Priest” and changed the name to LoG in 1999. I first shot LoG back in 2010 when they performed at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. It was one of the standout performances that year, and since that time they have only gotten better. The only thing that was still weird to see was lead vocalist Randy Blythe without his long hair ripping back and forth. The LoG set was a blistering 10 songs from six albums, which had the crowd on their feet the whole time.
Lamb of God is:
Randy Blythe – Vocals
John Campbell – Bass
Mark Morton – Lead Guitar
Willie Adler – Rhythm Guitar
Art Cruz– Drums
Lamb of God Setlist
1.) Memento Mori
2.) Walk With Me in Hell
3.) Resurrection Man
5.) Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
9.) Laid to Rest
Pantera is a legendary metal band that might be better known for the horrific murder of their founding guitar player on stage than for anything else. The murder of Dimebag Darrell on December 8th 2004, shocked the music world and cut short the career of a musician considered one of the best guitar players ever. To compound the devastation of losing Dimebag, his brother and other founding member of Pantera. Vinnie Paul passed away at the age of 54 in 2018 . In 2022, it was reported that the two remaining members of Pantera, Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown were taking the band out on the road. As I mentioned earlier, Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante are filling in on this tour and it’s a really good fit. I have photographed Zakk and Charlie numerous times over the years and knew that these two could do the Panera sound justice. They all have incredible stage presence and that the show would be one to remember. I was absolutely right. I will say that it was very difficult getting a good shot of Charlie back on the drums as my timing and position in the photo pit seemed to work against me this time. Sorry Charlie.
One of the coolest details from this show was the vest Zakk was wearing and the guitar he was playing. The vest has decals of both Vinnie and Dimebag, one on either side. The guitar Zakk was playing is designed after Dimebag Darrells iconic “Dean from Hell” guitar with the same lighting bolt design. The guitar also features a silhouette on the back of the headstock of Dimebag but that was not visible during the shoot. The only band member that I had never photographed before the show was bassist Rex Brown and I made sure that I spent some time over on stage right to make sure I captured his energetic playing. The shot of him with his fist raised might be my favorite shot of the night.
Phil Anselmos voice was clear and powerful from the moment the curtain blocking the stage fell to reveal the band, and the show ended up being fifteen songs from six albums along with the cover Black Sabbath “Planet Caravan”. The closing tune, “Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit” was the perfect way for these Cowboys from Hell to end their show here in Chula Vista.
Phil Anselmo – Lead Vocals
Rex Brown – Bass
Zakk Wylde – Lead Guitar (Touring Member)
Charlie Benante – Drums (Touring Member)
1.) A New Level
2.) Mouth for War
3.) Strength Beyond Strength
5.) I’m Broken
6.) Suicide Note Pt. II
7.) 5 Minutes Alone
8.) This Love
9.) Fucking Hostile
* Cemetery Gates (played from tape)
10.) Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath cover)
11.) Walk (with Randy Blythe, Art Cruz, Scott Ian, Revel Ian)
12.) Domination / Hollow
13.) Cowboys From Hell
14.) Slaughtered (First half)
16.) Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit
Follow Lamb Of God Online:
Alan Hess is a photographer based in San Diego, where he lives with his wife and two rescued boxers.
Alan is currently the house photographer for a large concert and event venue in Southern California where he photographs everything from major musical acts to ice hockey. When he isn’t out taking photographs, he spends his time writing books and is an accomplished photography educator and trainer.
Alan’s images have been published in a variety of places including news papers, magazines, websites, promotional materials, album artwork, and press releases. His clients include The Associated Press, Fox Television, FX Network, USA Network, Hasbro, Framus Guitars, Gibson, The Dead, Picture Group, Photoshop User Magazine, Steel Pulse, Ziggy Marley, and many more.
He is the author of sixteen photography and technology books covering everything from night and low light photography to multiple shot techniques. His books are sold around the world and have been translated in other languages including: Chinese, French, Polish, Japanese, Thai, and Italian.