Charlie Benante Clears Up ’Tribute vs. Reunion’ Pantera Issue, Explains How They Came Up With Live Setlist

Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, who’s now playing drums for a current iteration of Pantera, recently chatted about his involvement during an interview with Eddie Trunk. Alongside Charlie and, obviously, Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown, we have Zakk Wylde on guitar. Looking back at their first official show under the Pantera moniker, which took place at the Hell & Heaven festival in Mexico, he said (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“Basically, we get up there and there’s a big kabuki curtain in front of us and the four of us just up there. And Philip came up to the drum riser and we just had this moment where we were shaking hands. We were so excited. And then I looked to Rex and I looked to Zakk, and the four of us just had this connection.”

PANTERA - Full First Reunion Concert Live @ Hell & Heaven Metal Fest, Mexico, DEC 2, 2022

“And before I knew it — boom — we were right into playing ‘A New Level’. And it was off from that point. And I was looking at the setlist, and I saw the next song coming up, and I was excited about that song. And then that song would finish, and I looked down, and I’m, like, ‘Oh, I fucking love this song. Yeah!’ It was that all night for me — just getting super hyped up about the next song and what was coming up. So I enjoyed myself.”

“One thing I spoke to those guys about months ago, I said, ‘Man, let’s just try and be in the moment and just enjoy it.’ And that’s what we all did — we just kind of enjoyed it.”

Discussing how they came up with the setlist, Charlie offered:

“Actually, Rex, myself and Philip, we were on a call and we basically came up with the setlist. And I remember saying to them, ‘You guys are really close to this stuff. From my point of view, like a fan, man, these are the songs that, of course, must be played.’ And, of course, they agreed with that.”

🔥PANTERA🔥Full First Show (Multicam) - Hell & Heaven Fest 2022 👹 - 02.DEC.2022

“But then there were some deep cuts that we wanted to do too. And they were welcome to it. We even talked about adding more songs to the setlist for next year. So everybody’s pretty much open. The way I kind of looked it is, ‘Let’s try and hit every record. Let’s try and do a song from every record at least.’ So that’s what we’re trying to do.”

 “For this run here in South America, we’re gonna keep [the setlist] as is, but next year I can see a song or two being dropped and replaced with another song. We already talked about that the other day.”

THIS LOVE 🩸 LIVE - PANTERA 2022 - SECOND SHOW - Monterrey Metal Fest 🟢 - 06.DEC.2022

Discussing the issue further, Benante explained how Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul are still a huge part of the show. He said:

“Before ‘Planet Caravan’ [Black Sabbath cover] starts, we have this video that runs with a little piece of the song ‘Cemetery Gates’, and it’s basically a tribute to Dime and Vinnie,” he explained. “I mean, Dime and Vinnie are all over the place. They are on my drum kit. Zakk has patches with them. But even in spirit, they’re there.”

“Before we went on, Sterling Winfield, who was very close to Dime and Vinnie — he basically engineered the last three records that Pantera did — he brought me a pair of Vinnie’s old gloves, and he brought me one of Darrell’s old wristbands that he wore. And I put the wristband on and I played the show with that wristband. And I put the gloves in my pocket. So I had both of them with me that night.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Benante also addressed the negative comments on the whole thing and how he doesn’t really get them. This is nothing more than trying to keep the Pantera name alive. He offered:

“This was never a reunion. How can it be a reunion without Vinnie and Dime here? Sometimes people will send me something, and I see things online, and it’s so disrespectful to both Darrell and Vinnie, and it’s totally disrespectful to us too. And it’s just, like, ‘Man, if you don’t wanna come, you don’t have to come.'”

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“One of the first things I said to Philip on the phone, I said, ‘This, to me, is more on an emotional level than any other level.’ This means a lot to me personally, to go out there and represent those guys and represent the Pantera name. And that’s all I’d ever want for me. I don’t care about it financially and stuff like that; this, to me, I had to do this. I didn’t wanna see anybody else playing these songs but me up there.”

Looking back at his chat with Phil Anselmo about participating in this whole thing, Charlie said:

“I was so excited about it. I said, ‘Thank you for thinking of me.’ And they were, like, ‘There was nobody else.’ And that made me feel really good. Because they knew my relationship with Darrell and they knew my relationship with Vinnie. And I loved those guys, and I love these two guys just as much.”

Photos: MorganaPhotolive (Black Label Society (26643606944)), Ingo Hoffmann (Charlie Benante), Llann Wé² (W0829-Hellfest2013 Down PhilAnselmo 69245), Rexzone111 (Rex Brown)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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