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Judas Priest

Live in Rockford, IL, September 28, 2005

Review by Mike Korn

Let me first express my disappointment in the size of the crowd. I am enough of a realist to know that a classic metal band like Judas Priest is not going to sell out the Metro Centre on a weeknight. But I was hoping they'd at least be able to pull the same amount of people as the local minor league hockey club - no such luck. Well, the crowd lacked nothing in enthusiasm and I was heartened to see many young faces attending the show. Anybody who saw the dreadful nu-metal band Ten Years play the same night elsewhere in Rockford should never call themselves a true metal fan again.

My admiration for this band is unlimited and it certainly was not altered tonight, but I am disappointed in the rigidity of their setlist. I know there's no way in they are ever going to get rid of "Living After Midnight" or "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", but must every show open with "Hellion/Electric Eye" followed by "Riding on the Wind"? Priest has a rich, rich heritage...I certainly don't think it would kill them to open with "Freewheel Burning" or maybe "Judas Rising" from the new "Angel of Retribution". It might be cool to uncork "Screaming for Vengeance"!

Gary Hill
Gary Hill
There's an easy familiarity to Priest live, as you pretty much know you are going to see a thoroughly professional metal band blow the doors off. The very choreography of their stage movement has become set in stone...the "robot walk" from Halford during "Metal Gods", the weird tangle that begins "Breaking the Law". It is comforting but there's not much danger or unpredictability in Priest's setlist. There was one glaring exception which I thought was very cool and that was replacing the typical old encore "Hell Bent for Leather" with the moody and haunting "Desert Plains" from "Point of Entry". This has always been one of my favorite Priest songs and the band did a superb job of it tonight. This minor deviation from the game plan resulted in probably one of the night's most enjoyable tunes.

The sound tonight was absolutely magnificent and I have never heard Glenn Tipton's guitar sound better. It had the purity of a ringing Tibetan temple bell! But who would expect less? The twin guitar attack of Tipton and K. K. Downing is just as breathtaking as ever...their work on the new tracks "Judas Rising" and especially "Hellrider" was outstanding. "Victim of Changes", already one of the best metal songs , was delivered tonight better than I have ever heard it...guitar, vocals, rhythm. K. K.'s solo was absolutely insane! It was a sublime convergence of metal forces that makes this lifetime headbanger reach a stage of intense enjoyment. Really, time seems to melt and disappear when you see and hear something as pure as this.

Gary Hill
Gary Hill
There was a bit of a slow spot in the middle of the set where the band trotted out an unlikely "I'm A Rocker", an affecting acoustic version of "Diamonds and Rust" which showed their talents in a less heavy setting and the semi-ballad "Worth Fighting For" from "Angel of Retribution". I know the band are of the opinion that heavy metal is a multi-faceted art with room for all different kinds of approaches, not just fast and furious screamers. They proved their versatility tonight with these more melodic tunes, but still, the pace and energy does tend to lessen when they are played.

Other highlights included a moving "Beyond the Realms of Death", an intense "Painkiller" which had Rob sporting some of his most pained, bizarre vocals ever and a fist-pumping "Revolution". If the band were put off by the mediocre crowd size, they never showed it and seemed genuinely touched by the warm response they received. These guys are pro's and don't need to yell and curse at the crowd to get a response. It's a shame that that's what so many people want these days.

Gary Hill
Gary Hill
Rob Halford is a stern and elegant presence on stage. He probably changed costume more times than Madonna. He is a consummate showman and a credit to the world of metal. To heap more praise on him would sound like I'm kissing up, but really, he is the METAL GOD and thank GOD he is back with Judas Priest. It was a privilege to see him in action up close.

Yes, the Priest show is overly familiar but it builds and builds in power and intensity until no one is left unsatisfied. If you are hungry for heavy metal played at its highest level, you will not go wrong with this band.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at
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