Review: Judas Priest - Epitaph

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2. Nov. 2011, 6:39

Sun 30 Oct – Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, Black Label Society

After seeing Iron Maiden, Motörhead, and (technically) Black Sabbath (well the Mob Rules lineup at least, under the name Heaven & Hell), it was only matter of time until I had seen the last of the "Big 4 of British Metal": the Metal Gods themselves, Judas Priest. I couldn't have picked a better time, this being the supposed "final world tour", and if it truly is, they're definitely going out on top. The two opening acts, who could be headliners themselves, only enhanced the experience.

Thin Lizzy:
These guys are one of the first bands I ever remembering hearing, mostly from the fact that The Boys Are Back in Town was used in Toy Story trailers. However, I became reacquainted later once my dad started playing albums by them quite frequently, espcially Cowboy Song which Anthrax did a great cover of. My dad was along w/me for this show just to see these guys (he'd already seen Priest before), and it's the most fun I've seen him ever have at a concert.

Considering this isn't the same lineup I heard on the records, I could barely tell the difference. This might come down to the fact I'm a bit of a Ricky Warwick fanboy, mostly due to the awesome work he's done with The Almighty, but hearing him do these songs made me realize he is a great replacement for the late Phil Lynott. He knew how to get the audience going, allowing time for some great participation and some witty banter ("...and don't even think about sitting down!"). Of course, classic members Scott Gorham and Brian Downey are still around too, thus giving more of the classic feel. I've heard some criticize these guys for becoming nothing more than a tribute band, but I don't really see how that matters as long as we get a good show with some of the members still intact. Rating: A-

Setlist:

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Black Label Society:
BLS are one of those bands that are cursed with an uneven discography. Starting off great with the three classics full of sludegy Sabbath-style metal (Sonic Brew,Stronger Than Death & 1919 Eternal. The cracks started to show by the time The Blessed Hellride came along, ultimately capped off by Shot To Hell, which only featured a few highlight tracks. Their newest album Order Of The Black, isn't much better, but at least shows Zakk going back into a heavier direction akin to the aforementioned first three, especially evident on Crazy Horse, which got their set off to a great start.

Just as I expected, the band mostly focused on their newer material. Not really a bad idea considering the older song they did play, Bleed for Me, was butchered by Zakk faux-Ozzy vocals that he's been employing for almost a decade. The problem with this is that most of them kind of blurred together, the only real distinctive ones I remember being Suicide Messiah (always a great crowd sing-a-long!), Concrete Jungle and usual set-ender Stillborn. Don't get me wrong, the band were in top form and gave it their all, their performances did give a good energy to songs I'd otherwise be bored by if I were listening to on the album.

The real low point however, was Zakk Wylde's seemingly endless 10-minute solo, consisting of a repetitive pattern repeated ad nauseum. I know Zakk had been doing this at nearly every BLS show for several years, but when you're an opening act it seems a little ridiculous, considering he could've played two more complete songs within that time! The crowd ate it up tho, so I can't really fault it too much, but for me personally, it's definitely one of the lowest points I've ever witnessed at a concert. Rating: C+

Setlist (not entirely accurate since I'm pretty sure they didn't play "Demise of Sanity"):

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Judas Priest:
Admittedly, I'm not the biggest Priest fan around, I was always into the aforementioned other three British bands more, might have something to do w/ the fact they were the last I discovered. That said, what I do know from the band ranges from catchy crowd sing-a-longs to brutal onslaughts on the senses. Newcomer Richie Faulkner is an apt replacement for KK, in fact at points you could almost mistake him Richie for him!

Things were off to an amazing start with Rapid Fire, kicking the crowd right into full gear, followed by the groovy, anthemic Metal Gods, the near-pop stylings of Heading Out to the Highway while the headbang-a-thon Judas Rising capped off this part of the set. The mid-paced rock Starbreaker was next, which helped give a nice prelude before they went into one of my favourite songs of theirs: Victim of Changes. Honestly, it was worth to go to this JUST for this song, Halford absolutely KILLED on the vocals! Couldn't believe these screams were coming from a guy in his 60's! Halford's performance in general was pretty spot on, only really slipping in You've Got Another Thing Comin', where he seemed to sort of slur through the verses. He let the crowd sing the entirety of Breaking the Law, which is one of the coolest things I've ever witnessed at a concert (pretty far cry from Zakk's solo!) He also did a amazing job of Painkiller, in spite of his age plus it is a VERY hard song to sing in general, which was even more amazing than Victim simply due to the fact it is one of my all time favourite metal songs.

My only criticisms are, and Halford fanboys are probably going hate for this, but they should have done at least SOMETHING from the Tim Ripper Owens era, considering it's supposed be a tribute to all eras of Priest., especially since he basically saved from obscurity in the late 90s, and made Halford's comeback more epic. Blood Stained and Burn in Hell are two of my favourite JP songs, plus despite what some might say, Ripper's voice is pretty similar to Rob's so I don't really see how it could be impossible. Rating: A-

Setlist:

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Overall, this one of the most fun concerts I've ever been to. In Spite of it's low points, there was great energy and vibe going the whole time and I've screamed/sang along so hard the my voice is still recovering a few days afterward, whereas w/ most concerts it only takes a day. I guess that's what I get for thinking I could imitate the Metal God. :P

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