The newly reformed Pantera are now well into the swing of their highly-anticipated 2022 run of dates, after kicking things off last week (December 2) with their first show in 21 years at Mexico’s Hell & Heaven Metal Fest.
Since, the four-piece – which now comprises core Pantera members Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown, as well as guitarist Zakk Wylde and drummer Charlie Benante in place of Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, respectively – have played three more shows in Mexico, Colombia and Chile.
Notably, though, Brown – the band's bass guitar player – was absent at the latter show at Knotfest in Santiago, Chile on Sunday (December 11).
Exact details of Brown’s absence have not been confirmed, however Knotfest Chile organizers have attributed it to “health problems," while local radio station Futuro reports that he missed the show after contracting COVID-19.
According to Blabbermouth, following the band’s show at Knotfest Colombia in Bogotá on Friday (December 9), Brown flew home to the US to quarantine, and will therefore miss the remainder of Pantera’s upcoming South America dates. They include tonight’s (December 12) show in Santiago, and a December 18 show in São Paulo for Knotfest Brazil.
Filling in for Brown at yesterday’s show – and presumably for the band’s two remaining 2022 dates – was former Cattle Decapitation bass player Derek Engemann, who also plays with Anselmo in Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals.
In a post on social media, Charlie Benante shared a video of the Santiago show, with the caption: “Chile was on fire! We missed Rex tonight, get better buddy! Damn it was a hot one.”
Sunday's set included a host of classic Pantera tracks, including A New Level, Mouth For War, Strength Beyond Strength, Cowboys From Hell and Walk, as well as a cover of Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan.
Despite admitting that he still needed to learn some of Dimebag Darrell’s guitar parts for the Pantera shows as late as mid-October – and later revealing that he was using YouTube videos to grasp them, Zakk Wylde has settled nicely into his role as guitarist in Pantera, employing Wylde Audio Warhammer electric guitars – the closest thing in his company's catalog to Dimebag's trademark MLs.
Wylde is also bolstered by guitar tech Grady Champion, Dimebag Darrell's own tech, who signed up for the new Pantera shows earlier this year, and even furnished Wylde with some of Dimebag's own pedals.
Last month, Wylde spoke with Guitar World about his approach to Pantera's 2022/2023 shows, stating, “No matter what I do, it's going to sound like me. I can practice all I want and stay as faithful as I want, but I am never going to escape that.
“It's like if Dime were still here, and he played Miracle Man or No More Tears – even if he played them spot on – it would still sound like Dimebag Darrell playing Zakk Wylde.
“So, that's a challenge, but it's not a bad thing at all. It's like if Randy Rhoads were to play Eddie Van Halen's Eruption, no matter what he did, it would sound like Randy playing, not Eddie. You're never going to mistake Randy for Eddie or Eddie for Randy, and it's the same thing here with me playing Dime's stuff.
“So, the way I look at it is I am going to go in, learn the parts, be as faithful to what Dime did as possible, and just be me. I'm gonna have fun with it, knowing that I am not expecting myself to sound like Dime, and no one else should either, which is how it is when I play with Ozzy or whatever else.”