Two shows in New Zealand by metal band Phil Anselmo & The Illegals have been canceled in the wake of last weekend’s deadly mosque attacks, in which 50 worshippers were slaughtered by an avowed white supremacist gunman.
The cancelation of planned gigs by the former Pantera singer at The Club Cavern in Chistchurch — the city where the deadly attack took place — on March 26 and at the Galatos in Auckland the next day reportedly came in the wake of concerns of reported “white power” comments by Anselmo in 2016.
The New Zealand Herald reported that Galatos announced the cancelation in a FB post that read, “Galatos will not be hosting this show in our venue on the above date. Just today, information has come to hand which has made us uncomfortable about proceeding with this show.”
Anselmo was filmed in 2016 giving what appeared to be a “white power” salute and shouting “white power” during that year’s Dimebash event. After the footage circulated, Anselmo wrote an apology in which he said he was “utterly responsible” for his mistakes, adding, “i can only give you my word to no longer do them in the present, through ACTION, not just mere words… my biggest obstacle[s] are the over-indulging in the booze and blurting out spiteful, ignorant reductions of the human spirit itself… I am repulsed by my own actions.”
In an email to Billboard on Tuesday morning (March 19), the booker of the two NZ shows, Valhalla Touring’s Ben Mulchin wrote, “Words feel inadequate in extending compassion, grief and support. RIP victims of Christchurch Mosque Attacks. Words and actions can help things though. As a whole our naive little country woke up to the fact hatred, bigotry, and fucking nutjobs live, work and are around us. White supremacy and any forms of hatred should not be apart of any society.” After initially booking the Illegals shows, Mulchin shared that he would “never book anyone with ‘white power’ or ‘white power politics’ or any other silly political agendas.”
Turning his attention to Anselmo and the singer’s past words and deeds, Mulchin forwarded a previously released statement. “This is a very serious time in our nation’s history and as human beings. Intolerance and hatred needs to be identified, called out, reduced, enveloped and ideally educated and turned into understanding and empathy,” he said. “I feel like all loving New Zealanders and humans, there should only be respect, acceptance, and love for all nationalities, creeds and sexualities.
“I completely agree over not forgetting or ignoring Phil’s vile, deplorable actions and words in 2016 nor his pandering to a crowd in the 1990’s. He can’t take what happened back, no one can with those actions and words,” he wrote. “There is no excuse. When his band offered to tour here I did have to soul search. Did his apologies seem earnest? Did he fully comprehend his hateful display? Were his actions and words from his heart in his apologies, or was his shameful display really who he is? Importantly did he as a prominent figure in metal take responsibility on how his actions can embolden and encourage others to hate? I think this last thought is pretty important in the current situation.”
Mulchin said he considered Anselmo’s past hateful words before and after booking the shows and then again after the mosque attacks. “I can’t honestly say what is in someone’s heart I don’t know personally but I feel that Phil is of a respectful loving nature,” he said. “His apologies were sincere and he has rightly suffered from his actions. Phil is someone who a large number of metal fans/bogans look up to and I believe it is extremely important that he show empathy and compassion regarding the tragedy in Christchurch. To be honest I hope if he plays he will renounce bigotry and the horrific inhuman acts and that this will make an impression on people that all humans are equal. He is a powerful figure that could really influence people for the better.”
Anselmo posted an Instagram snap of the band arriving in Australia on Monday, but it did not appear that he’s commented on the cancelation of the shows at press time; a spokesperson for Anselmo could not be reached for comment at press time.