Charlie Benante on debut Pantera reunion show: “If I say I wasn’t nervous I’d be lying”

Pantera made their reunion debut this weekend at the Hell and Heaven Open Air festival in Texicoco, Mexico. The show, which marked the first Pantera live performance in 21 years, was the first to feature the band’s reunion line-up, with Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante and guitarist Zakk Wylde taking the roles of the late Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell Abbott, respectively.

The 15-song set opened with vocalist Phil Anselmo, bassist Rex Brown, Benante and Wylde slam their way through A New Level, leading into a collection of fan favourites including Mouth for War, Becoming, I’m Broken, Walk Cowboys From Hell and more.

A tribute video to the late Abbott brothers was played on the festival screens, while Cemetery Gates plaid through the speakers, Anselmo adding “This is for Vince and Dime, man.” before the band launched into their cover of Black Sabbath's Planet Caravan.

Following the performance, drummer Charlie Benante - whose Tama kit featured four bass drums, with portraits of Vinnie Paul and Dimebag on two -  took to Instagram to share his thoughts on the show, revealing that Pantera producer, Sterling Winfield had given him a Dimebag wristband and a pair of Vinnie Paul’s drumming gloves to take on stage with him, and describing parts of the set as “Metal meditation”.

“If I say I wasn’t nervous I’d be lying. The excitement, the fear, the emotions, the love and the work that went into doing this all played a part of what was in my head.

“When I got up there it had all seemed to disappear…I looked at [Phil, Rex and Zakk] and felt the connection. Bam!! New level started and we were off. I kept looking down at my set list and was getting hyped up for the next song. 

 “I had some moments up there where I felt like I wasn’t there, I went to some other place. I think I was Metal meditating, don’t laugh…I’m serious.”

The reformation of Pantera in the absence of the Abbott brothers has been speculated multiple times over the years, and divided the opinion of fans when it was officially announced earlier this year.

Benante’s inclusion in the line-up was given the blessing of Vinnie Paul’s estate, who made a statement on the eve of the band’s comeback gig, saying,  “There can never be a PANTERA reunion without Vinnie and Dime. However, there is no better way to celebrate and honor Vinnie and Dime’s legacy, than to bring the music of PANTERA directly to the fans. 

“We are honored that Charlie and Zakk, their very close friends and musical brothers, will share the stage with Philip and Rex, to unleash the power of PANTERA live around the world.”


Pantera reunion full set

  • A New Level
  • Mouth for War
  • Strength Beyond Strength
  • Becoming
  • I'm Broken
  • Use My Third Arm
  • Drag the Waters
  • This Love
  • Yesterday Don't Mean Shit
  • Fucking Hostile
  • Planet Caravan 
  • 5 Minutes Alone
  • Walk
  • Cowboys From Hell
  • Domination/Hollow


The Hell and Heaven set is the start of the band’s reunion plans, which so far includes over 30 dates stretching in 2024, and includes a support slot on Metallica’s world tour.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.