THE METAL MASTERS TOUR 2008: JUDAS PRIEST, HEAVEN & HELL, MOTORHEAD AND TESTAMENT
Show Date: August 28, 2008
Location: Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.
Venue: Cricket Pavillion
Reviewer: Jim Hintzen
Band Websites: www.judaspriest.com – www.heavenandhelllive.com – www.imotorhead.com – www.testamentlegions.com
As expected it was a hot and humid late summer day in Phoenix. The fans underneath the roof helped a bit, but it was HOT. Testament came out and roared through their set. Most of the seats were not full yet, but there were some Testament fans at the venue and they got a good show. Alex Skolnik was burning up his soon to be released signature Heritage guitar and the drummer was a monster, double-bassing through almost every song. They had good energy and the band tore it up. The sound was muddy, but the guys put on a good set.
Lemmy of Motorhead came out next and was, of course, very cool. I couldn’t understand most of what he said or sang, but he is God after all, so it was great. The sound was again muddy and it was hard to make out the guitar – at least from where we were sitting. Motorhead finished their set with what seemed like five minutes of feedback. It was ridiculous, but just the kind of over-the-top stunt you’d expect and appreciate from Lemmy.
I had never seen Ronnie James Dio live before so I was really looking forward to Heaven And Hell. They had a great stage set which consisted of two Halloween-type trees with Gargoyles perched atop them, two gates with steel link ‘bars’ and a metal with rivets backdrop. Heaven And Hell started their show with some sort of synthesizer bass line that made the hairs on my arms stand up and my fricken clothes vibrate! It was way more intense even than the bass in a club that actually changes your heartbeat it’s so loud.
Ronnie was every bit the legend he’s always been – he came out and took control of the stage and the crowd and sounded amazing. Tommy Iommi looked like ‘Rock Royalty’ with his black leather coat, crucifix and blue shaded glasses. It was a truly mesmerizing set that had the crowd pounding on chairs and chanting for an encore. They came back and killed with a rendition of “Neon Knights”. The sound was much better for Heaven And Hell than the previous acts. Afterwards friends of mine were backstage and met Dio and said he was as cool as you could possibly be to people you’ve just met – this was the impression he made onstage as well – he really brought the power, but acted as a gentleman and thanked and complimented the audience repeatedly. Oh, and not to forget – now that Bonham is gone, is Vinny Appice the hardest hitting drummer in the business? It was great to see him on the kit as well.
Judas Priest had a long opening sequence also with synthesizers and a giant backdrop of Nostradamus with lighted red eyes. Priest put on a great set – much better than they did a couple years ago when they came through with Queensryche. They really had the crowd going and played some old favorites and deep cuts like “Green Manalishi”. No one is quite sure what’s going on with singer Rob Halford, as even though it was a good show and he was a little more animated than the last time, he’s still standing in one place for most of the show and using teleprompters mounted on the floor of the stage. He only looked down at the floor for 93% of the show this time, as opposed to 100% of the time in 2005. And someone needs to speak to Rob about the leather unitard he’s wearing – he’s not at all in shape enough to pull that off. Still, it was a good, almost great show by Judas Priest. KK Downing and Glenn Tipton really ripped it up and even seemed to be having a good time. Rob leaned over and said something in Glenn‘s ear during one song and got a good laugh out of him. It was very intense because right as the third song started a Monsoon blew in with frigid wind, rain and lighting and with Priest bringing the thunder. It was truly a full-body concert experience! In the rest of the Valley, trees were uprooted and over $1 million in damage was done to the brand-new ASU workout facility. Judas Priest ended with “You Got Another Thing Coming” and the crowd was deliriously happy. There was no encore, but amazingly, the concert ended exactly on time at 11pm. Glenn impressed me by not tossing picks into the crowd but going out and handing them to people individually, and not just a few, but a bunch of ’em. The sound was pretty good for Priest as the EMG-equipped guitars cut through cleanly and had plenty of crunch.
It would be too hard to pick a best as all the bands did a great job. My personal favorite was Heaven And Hell, but I’ll admit it was a good choice to end with Judas Priest as they had a more up-tempo, rocking set. Dio was unquestionably the vocalist of the night, and although Iommi, Downing and Tipton were most impressive, I’d say Skolnik should grab guitar honors – at least for shredder of the night.
It was a long evening, but worth it to see all that talent in one night. This summer Phoenix has been lucky enough to showcase Bruce Dickinson, Halford and Dio – quite a treat for us old-school metalheads!!