Tonight I am at the LG Arena to review what I would term a ‘Monsters of Metal’ line-up which has been billed as the ‘Priest Feast’!
First up are Testament and although they are probably not as well known as the other bands on the bill, there still seem to be a few hardcore fans down the front giving it all they have got during their set. Vocalist Chuck Billy only adds fuel to the fire after the first couple of songs by screaming ‘Are you ready for the Priest Feast?’ before launching into some of their newer material in the form of ‘More Than Meets the Eye’.
This band has been going for over 25 years and I admit I only sat up and took notice during what was undoubtedly their golden ‘Practice What You Preach’ era. Nonetheless I was mightily impressed with the heavy screeching guitar work from Eric Peterson, Paul Bostaph showed off some high-class dynamic drumming and Chuck Billy has still got a great voice which contrasts from gruff one minute to silky smooth in the next which all made for some ear-bleedingly good listening.
Testament rounded off their set with ‘The Formation of Damnation’ from their 2008 album of the same name and one of my favourite tracks — ‘Practice What You Preach’. All in all, they produced a solid and tight performance proving they were a great choice to warm-up the crowd in readiness for what was yet to come.
When Megadeth stepped out into the lights they were met with what felt like a strong sense of anticipation alongside the applause. It seemed to me that Dave Mustaine’s distinctively snarly vocals ripped through five songs before the crowd truly warmed up to them and by this time we were already mid-set; although I concede the ice had started to melt for some of the fans after ‘A Toute Le Monde’ and ‘She-Wolf’.
After what seemed to be an absolutely agonising wait there was a huge break-through when Megadeth pumped out ‘In My Darkest Hour’, ‘Hangar 18’ and ‘Symphony of Destruction’ in one foul swoop and therein lies the clue. Judging by the reaction of those around me, they were here to see some classic Megadeth and to be fair to them they did try tantalisingly teasing us with newer songs which then morphed into older classics ‘Wake Up Dead’ and ‘Hook In Mouth’ but for me at least this just did not work — as a fan of older Megadeth material I will always prefer to hear unaltered versions of some of the most fantastic tunes ever written!
All frustrations put aside I can say that we were treated to some awesome guitar skills from Chris Broderick and Dave Mustaine (- even if he does insist on having an electrical fan on-stage just to help him waft his hair around in a gale-force-wind-kind-of-way whilst wowing us with his ability to make the fret board squeal with delight!). And what Megadeth set would be complete without an encore which included ‘Peace Sells’, ‘Skin of my Teeth’ and ‘Holy Wars…’?
If it seems as though I was a little disappointed with the first half of Megadeth’s set then I have to say Judas Priest more than made up for it! The band emerged from the shadows of what can only be described as an elaborate prop-filled stage which included two stair cases and podiums, a set of sliding doors and a backdrop depicting Nostradamus!
During their first song ‘Prophecy’ I was not quite sure where Rob Halford actually was until I noticed a slow moving figure on one of the podiums completely shrouded in a full length silver cloak — his all-powerful voice sonicating around the arena with crystal clarity.
Judas Priest then took us on a journey that spanned over 30 years worth of material including ‘Hammer and the Anvil’, ‘Breaking The Law’, ‘Eat Me Alive’, ‘Rock Hard Ride Free’, ‘Hell Bent For Leather’, ‘Hell Patrol’ and a fantastic rendition of ‘Dissident Aggressor’ which was famously covered by Slayer on their ‘South of Heaven’ album. There is something very special about hearing Rob say ‘It’s great to be back home’ and referring to himself as Rob from Tipton!
This set has it all – I can tell you there is nothing funnier than seeing Rob Halford wheeled out on a throne by a man dressed as Death except maybe for one moment during the song ‘sinner’ when Rob sings one of his head-splittingly high notes and the woman in front of me winces in pain and has to put her fingers in her ears.
I haven’t seen Judas Priest live in almost 18 years and for the hell of me I cannot think of one reason why I would wait so long to see such an amazing band again — they are absolute masters of the stage with such a heavy solid sound, Rob Halford has a vast vocal range and I have to take my hat off to Scott Travis on drums — a fantastic drummer with lots of drum-stick acrobats thrown in. Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill all move in perfect synchronisation with each other and truly are a formidable guitar team.
I honestly would have paid the ticket fee to see Judas Priest alone, they put on what seemed like an effortless performance, the sound was perfect and it was Pure Priest Perfection from start to finish.
Review – Amanda Jones
Photos – Dave Musson