THE METAL MASTERS TOUR 2008: JUDAS PRIEST, HEAVEN AND HELL, MOTORHEAD AND TESTAMENT
Show Date: August 19, 2008
Location: Tinley Park, Illinois, U.S.A.
Venue: First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Reviewer: Graham LaMontagne
Band Websites: www.judaspriest.com – www.heavenandhelllive.com – www.imotorhead.com – www.testamentlegions.com
The summer concerts of 2008 have proved to be a pivotal year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Tours by Van Halen, Rush, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Type O Negative, Motorhead, Heaven & Hell (a Dio led version of Black Sabbath) and Judas Priest corroborate that the most elite titans of rock were out in full force this concert season.
Given that the summer was filled with so much Metal, it was only fitting to wrap up the season with the cream of the crop; Judas Priest.
Judas Priest assembled a small Metal Festival this summer coined The Metal Masters Tour, and with acts like Motorhead, Testament and Heaven & Hell sharing the bill, the lineup was enough to put Ozzfest to shame.
At 5:30 p.m. Testament started the ceremony with a horrible sounding set. Known for their speed and technical abilities, Testament sounded atrocious, not because of musicianship, but due to obvious sound issues.
Once Testament finished, the future looked bright as I eagerly awaited Motorhead to take the stage. However, my anticipation quickly turned to disillusion as Motorhead, a band I had always wanted to hear live, played so obnoxiously loud that the entire set was incomprehensible. I am fully aware that Motorhead pride themselves on being one of, if not the loudest band on earth, but when I cannot even tell what song Lemmy is singing or playing due to ear piercing sound, a performance is not exactly enjoyable. I immensely enjoy Motorhead in the studio, but was considerably disappointed in their indecipherable performance.
Heaven & Hell followed Motorhead and completely restored my faith in The Metal Masters Tour. The current Black Sabbath lineup of Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Vinny Appice and the evil minion known as Ronnie James Dio, proved that you can play unbelievably deafening, yet crystal clear at the same time. At 66, Dio is quite frankly the most functional geriatric on the planet. His commanding vocals have not diminished one bit over the years, and his elf like prancing is not exactly normal behavior for a senior citizen. In fact, as the band played on, Dio‘s vocals only seemed to grow stronger as they blitzed through classics like “Die Young”, “The Mob Rules”, “Neon Knights” and an extended version of “Heaven & Hell”. Though the Ozzy Osbourne Sabbath era is superior in every way to the Dio Sabbath era, Tony Iommi‘s signature metal riffs accompanied by RJD‘s heroic vocals are a formidable unison that rightfully has a legendary spot reserved in the history of Heavy Metal.
From one operatic singer to the next, Rob Halford and his disciples in Judas Priest gave a searing performance, further exhibiting their reputation as Metal royalty. Opening with “Dawn Of Creation/Prophecy” from their new album titled Nostradamus, the band appeared and sounded as vibrant as ever. Rob Halford initially emerged in a shiny robe reminiscent of the attire needed to gain access to the costume party in Stanley Kubrick‘s Eyes Wide Shut. He would eventually disrobe and strut onto the stage in the typical leather biker look associated with Judas Priest.
Priest perfectly played a no holds barred set of pure Metal. This tour is certainly not a radio friendly one, as songs like “Living After Midnight” and “Turbo Lover” were purposely left off the set. Instead, Judas Priest opted to play their heaviest material and their legion of fans heartily ate up one headbanging classic after the other. “Dissident Aggressor”, “Metal Gods”, “Between The Hammer And The Anvil”, “Rock Hard Ride Free”, “Painkiller”, “Hell Patrol”, “The Hellion/Electric Eye”, “Breaking The Law” and “Eat Me Alive” made up the heavy arsenal of rock that Judas Priest fired into the crowd. The highlight of the concert was the unveiling of my favorite Priest tune “Devil’s Child”, which was so ferociously delivered, it will forever be remembered as a favorite concert moment. As an encore, Rob Halford of course rode out on a motorcycle, which kicked off the triple threat of “Hell Bent For Leather”, “The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin”. Just like Ronnie James Dio, Halford‘s vocals continue to show no wear while K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton confirmed why they are revered as one of the best dueling guitar teams in the business.
The Metal Masters Tour was the grand finale of one of the best concert summers in ages. With the change of the season, I fervently await what is in store for the fall – Danzig, Metallica and the long overdue return of AC/DC.