Live Report - Judas Priest / Queensryche - June 5th, 2005 Molson Amphitheater, Toronto, Canada
Metal Reviews

Release year: 0
Reviewed by Marty
I missed Judas Priest in Toronto last summer when they played with Slayer on their Reunited tour. I love Priest and they have been a favorite of mine for almost 30 years now. I was excited about Rob Halford being back but having seen them 7 times already, I really wasn't as keen about seeing them play all the same stuff they've played for years. Instead, I thought I'd wait until they had a new album out to go see them again. It would be refreshing to hear some new material for a change. When this show was announced with Queensryche as the opening act, it was a no-brainer....I had to be there. I got a chance to chat with Eddie Jackson, the bass player from Queensryche before the show and the interview will be posted very shortly.

It was a steamy hot afternoon and Judas Priest was the first concert of the summer at the outdoor amphitheatre on the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto and it made for quite an interesting evening to say the least. The combination of the excitement of the crowd, the hot mid-July like weather and the tons of beer consumed made for quite an enthusiastic and very rowdy crowd. The show started right on time with Queensryche getting a huge response from the crowd. I had a great seat right down front and the sound was clear, powerful and loud!! Starting with The Whisper from the Rage For Order album, Queensryche delighted the fans by concentrating on material from not only that album but The Warning and their very first E.P. Other tracks from Rage For Order included Neue Regal, Screaming In Digital, Surgical Strike and Walk In The Shadows. Tracks from The Warning included En Force, NM 156 and the set closer, Take Hold Of The Flame. The first Queensryche E.P. was represented by a medley consisting of Queen Of The Reich, Nightrider and Blinded. I would've preferred the complete songs but the way they pieced them together was pretty cool. Empire was the only track played from that album and they played Open and Desert Dance from the Tribe album. Prior to the tour with Priest, Queensryche was out on their own showcasing their Operation Mindcrime album in preparation for Operation Mindcrime II which is supposed to be out early next year. At this show, they only played The Needle Lies from Operation Mindcrime but surprised the crowd with a new track, I'm An American from the upcoming Operation Mindcrime II. It was a great track and had a great charging style much like The Needle Lies. I'm really excited about the new album as Mindcrime I is still one of my favorite all-time albums. Guitarists Michael Wilton and Mike Stone sounded really solid together and Geoff Tate's voice sounded as good as it did the last time I saw them on the Empire tour in 1991. Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfeld once again provided the solid backbone of the sound but there's still a void in the backing vocal department. Not only is Chris Degarmo's guitar playing and song writing style very much missed but his harmony vocals that blended perfectly with Geoff's are noticeably absent. All in all, a great set by a classic band that had the crowd standing and cheering by the end of the set.

After about a half hour break for the change-over, the lights went down and curtains dropped to reveal a massive stage with a glowing electric eye behind the drum riser......we all know what that means!!! That's right, it's time to rise for the Judas Priest national anthem.....The Hellion. By the time the opening chords for Electric Eye came pounding out of Glenn Tipton's and K.K. Downing's guitars, all the beer and other recreational substances were starting to kick in for most of the crowd. They blistered through that song with Glenn ripping off the lead with perfect precision. Rob Halford mostly strode back and forth on the riser for the whole track. The pounding opening to Metal Gods sent the crowd even further up the frenzy scale and from where I was down front, you could feel the sheer power of this pounding in your chest. Rob gradually made his way down the stairs, pounding his massive leather boots down in a robotic unison to the pounding ending of Metal Gods; finally arriving at the front of the stage by song's end. His coat with it's metal, leather and chains must weigh a ton and with the heat of the day, I can't imagine anyone being comfortable in something like that!! Priest's set consisted of many classics from the past with a few surprises and a healthy dose of new material. Victim Of Changes was awesome!! and again, the pounding heaviness could be felt throughout your whole body. Both Glenn and K.K. extended their solos for this track and Rob nailed all the screams perfectly. Other fan favorites such as Beyond The Realms Of Death sounded excellent as usual and a big surprise was Exciter, also from the Stained Class album. In all the times I've seen them, they’ve never played this track. From Scott Travis' pounding double bass intro to the stuttering riffs and soaring harmony guitar leads, it was hard to envision this track as being 27 years old....it sounded as fresh as something from the new album. Angel of Retribution was visited for part of the set with Judas Rising sounding good but a bit muddy. It also sounded a bit empty vocal wise because of the studio version's use of layered and harmonized vocals which really couldn't be done properly live. Deal With The Devil sounded great and Revolution sounded much better live than on the album. Hellrider was also played from the new album but I would've preferred Demonizer myself. The screams of DEMONIZER!!!! in a live setting would've been killer. Other tracks in the set included Touch Of Evil from Painkiller, Turbo Lover, I'm A Rocker, Riding On The Wind and Breaking The Law (of course) which included a neat little trick whereby everyone lined up side by side for the opening riff with Rob playing K.K.'s guitar who in turn played Glenn's guitar who in turn played Ian Hill's bass.

A nice little surprise came in the form of a largely acoustic and slower version of Diamonds And Rust. They've done this for the last couple of tours with Tim Owens but this was the first time I'd seen it. Truer to the original Joan Baez version, Rob sang with great passion and it came off really well with a huge response from the crowd. The traditional set closer, Painkiller was played with reckless abandon and sounded great. With every Priest show (at least the ones with Rob Halford) you know that he's going to ride out on a Harley for Hell Bent For Leather (it just wouldn't be Priest show without it!!). Sure enough, out he came in full metal motorcycle attire much like he wore on the back cover of Unleashed In The East. They ripped through that 26 year old track before jumping into Living After Midnight and of course...You've Got Another Thing Coming.

The sound was great and Priest sounded as good as ever but it's obvious that time is not on Rob Halord's side as far as his voice. He sang with perfect precision and nailed all the screams perfectly but on tracks like Beyond The Realms Of Death and parts of Touch Of Evil where he has to sing consistently in a higher register, he just doesn't seem to be able to reach those sustained notes anymore. Aside from that, for a bunch of guys in their 50's (except Scott Travis), they sounded, played and performed like they did 20 years ago. The crowd was in a euphoric mood for the whole show with people high-fiving and pouring beer all over each other. I hadn't been to a huge metal show like this in a few years and I realized just how much I missed the spectacle of it all and the camaraderie of the heavy metal fans. Even though the crowd consisted of mostly guys, there was a very "scenic" female presence as well. Experienced concertgoers will know exactly what I'm talking about!!! Priest is back and the legacy of this band really comes into light when I saw an entire family of four (all wearing Judas Priest T-shirts) heading into the show. One of the best and touching moments for me was about half-way through Priest's set when a biker type looking guy walked down front with his young son on his shoulders (I'd say only 5 or 6 years of age) turned him around to face the crowd and pointed out to the masses of people. The look of awe and wonderment on this kid's face was something to behold. He then turned towards the stage, showed his son how to throw up the horns before making his way back to his seat. Seeing several generations of metal fans all together experiencing a spectacle such as a Judas Priest show reassures that although metal doesn't get a lot of press or airplay anymore, it's still alive and kicking and can still be a huge concert draw. As long as there are still bands like Judas Priest showing us how it's done, metal will never die!!!!

Killing Songs :
Queensryche: The Whisper, Neue Regal, The Needle Lies
Judas Priest: Metal Gods, Victim Of Changes, Diamonds And Rust, Deal With The Devil, Beyond The Realms Of Death, Painkiller and Exciter
Marty quoted
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