JUDAS PRIEST AND WHITESNAKE DEFY AGE
My debut article for Sleaze Roxx was a review of an August 19, 2008 Judas Priest Metal Masters concert. A full year has yet to pass, and I’ve already gone back for a second helping of Priest. What is it about Judas Priest that keeps me so loyal? Quite frankly, they are the absolute best Heavy Metal band of all time.
The three Heavy Metal bands metal heads typically revere the most are Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Black Sabbath may have invented Heavy Metal, but Judas Priest took the torch and ran with it. Saying Priest is the overall best makes me feel dirty, like I am picking a favorite child (if I had any), but after their incendiary performance at The Family Arena in St. Charles, MO July 1, 2009, they have proven to be the ultimate Heavy Metal archetype.
It seems impossible that a band who formed in 1969 can still deliver such a jaw dropping set. These are old men well beyond their prime, and yet they deliver their songs in pristine form. And, I am convinced Rob Halford cryogenically freezes his voice when not touring or recording because he defies logic with his shrill scream.
The current Judas Priest tour is a celebration of their 1980 masterpiece ‘British Steel’, which the band played in its entirety. Opening with “Rapid Fire”, Priest immediately held the adoring crowd in the palm of their hand. ‘Priest’ chants from the crowd never ceased the entire set, and the band mates savagely fed off that intense energy. ‘British Steel’ is one of the most influential albums in Metal, and hearing “Breaking The Law”, “Metal Gods”, “Steeler”, “United”, “Grinder” and “Living After Midnight” all in order really made me stop and take stock of the album’s magnitude. The funky bass line of “The Rage”, and the menacing riff of “You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise” were the highlights during the ‘British Steel’ portion of the show.
The tenacious performance continued with the duel guitar force of K.K. Downing and Glen Tipton segueing into the fan favorite “The Ripper”, the newest Priest single “Prophecy” and the 80’s anthem “Rock Hard Ride Free”. Judas Priest closed the show with a mind blowing performance of arguably their best song “Victim Of Changes” (a tune that came out in 1976 before they were even a household name). The song and its numerous changeups sent me to the moon, and I was repeatedly screaming “Yes, Yes, Yes,” which must have made me look like Meg Ryan in ‘When Harry Met Sally’. Halford road back onstage on a motorcycle for the triple encore of “Freewheel Burning”, “Diamonds And Rust” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin”. This was my third time seeing Priest, but from the fifth row it was an entirely new experience. Just like AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Rush, Judas Priest live is stupefying, and whenever they tour I will be obligated to attend.
As if Judas Priest wasn’t enough for one concert, the opening band was the Zeppelin-esque Whitesnake. Normally, an opening band is just a so-so time filler, but the addition of Whitesnake makes this THE tour package of the summer. David Coverdale strutted onstage looking a bit too tan and with signs of obvious plastic surgery (he kind of resembled a leathery Raquel Welch). Despite his striving to be youthful appearance, Coverdale still wailed through the Whitesnake classics “Still Of The Night”, “Here I Go Again”, “Is This Love”, “Fool For Your Loving”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, “Give Me All Your Love”, “Bad Boys”, “Crying In The Rain”, a surprisingly authentic sounding new song “Lay Down Your Love” and their most provocatively rocking song “Slow An’ Easy”. The only grievance with the show is that Whitesnake left off “Slide It In”, which would have made more sense instead of the five minute too long guitar duel they injected.
The pop oriented Hair Metal of Whitesnake and the bona fide Heavy Metal of Judas Priest mixed perfectly, making my 170th concert a historic one.