Ex-Pantera singer's NZ gigs axed over past 'white power' comments


Christchurch (New Zealand) (AFP)

Two New Zealand performances by the former frontman of influential metal band Pantera have been cancelled in the wake of the Christchurch massacre over his past comments about white supremacy.

Phil Anselmo sparked outrage in 2016 when he gave a Nazi salute and yelled "White Power!" during a high-profile concert in Los Angeles.

He was scheduled to perform with his band The Illegals next week -- on March 26 in Christchurch and in Auckland the next day, less than two weeks after an avowed white supremacist allegedly gunned down 50 people at two mosques.

"New Zealand suffered a terrible hate crime... just 5 days ago," Ben Mulchin of show promoter Valhalla Touring told AFP in an email on Wednesday.

"There was nothing positive to come from the tour as people are still grieving and it's just inappropriate and lacking respect to hold these shows so soon."

A representative for Galatos, the venue for the Auckland gig, also confirmed the cancellation.

The 2016 comments, for which Anselmo initially refused to apologise, unleashed a wave of condemnation, accusations of racism and cancellations of performances that year by Down, his band at the time.

Anselmo later apologised, calling his comments an "awful mistake".

But that behaviour from three years ago could not be ignored in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, Mulchin was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald on Tuesday.

"I completely agree (we should not forget) or ignore Phil's vile, deplorable actions and words in 2016 nor his pandering to a crowd in the 1990s... there is no excuse," he told the newspaper.

Anselmo was the frontman of Pantera, a band that was formed in the early 1980s and rose to become one of the most influential metal bands of the next decade.

He had faced -- and denied -- allegations of racism before the 2016 on-stage outburst too.

The scrapping of Anselmo's gigs comes after organisers, citing the twin-mosque killings, cancelled the March 17 Christchurch concert by Slayer -- one of the biggest metal bands in the world.

They did not detail reasons for the move beyond "the safety and wellbeing of the public".

Slayer are known for violent imagery in their lyrics.