Friday, June 26, 2015
Judas Priest in Luxemburg (@Rockhal 16/06/2015)
Touring alongside the metal gods as a supporting act were Los Angeles based metal band Five Finger Death Punch, whose set I will try to cover only briefly so as to spare any unnecessary bad publicity or offense to any FFDP fans. The band took to the stage wearing what I assume to be their flashy signature stage outfits assorted to the bands’ equally edgy stage setup revolving around eagles, skulls firearms. I simply knew I was going to be in for an entertaining and interesting show as soon as I saw them step to the stage like WWE fighters, with their vocalist wielding a baseball bat bearing the word FUCK (the cornerstone of edginess). Sparing all traces of dishonesty, the show truly felt like a wrestling match rather than a live show. Our LA rockstars were sporting endorsements from head to toe and posing for photos like rockstars all throughout the show, throwing a monstrous amount of guitar picks throughout their set, averaging around at least a dozen picks per song (seriously).I am aware that I am somewhat dwelling on the bands’ appearance rather than focusing on their music, yet for this act in particular this only seems appropriate considering how much effort and thought they obviously put into the visual aspect of the show, with every bit of clothing branded and calculated down to their socks and wristbands. The bands thus engaged in delivering their testosterone-fueled, Monster Energy drink sponsored set of radio-marketed nu-metal inspired by Slipknot, Stone Sour and Disturbed. Now I must give credit where credit is due; the band did manage to get their crowd pumped up nonetheless. A good deal of the venue consisted of fans having paid good money to see them play less than an hour worth’s’ of material and they were visibly very satisfied with the show they got, that's the best verdict I can give that goes beyond my distaste for this band.
Needless to say the wait was very long but eventually came the time for us to meet with the gods and feast on some pure, classic heavy metal. The large band logo-bearing curtain that had been set up before the stage during the intermission finally dropped and the whole venue was set ablaze by the opening riffs to Dragonaut and by the fancy giant screens flashing fiery red images all along the set. Vocalist Rob Halford stepped to the stage to the raging cheers of an extatic audience wearing his ever-so-classic outfits of leather, chains and still sporting his now trademark sunglasses and beard. Considering the bands' 45 year lifespan, one can only be absolutely baffled by how well the legends hold up in delivering their timeless classics as well as their newer material live.
Rob Halford visibly has no intention of stepping down from his title of metal god, as demonstrated by his impressive performance. Granted, a few verses were slightly rearranged to fit his current stamina, Rob Halfords' operatic vocals and high pitched heavy metal screams still have some bright days ahead of them. I will admit that Rob's current rendition of Beyond the Realms of Death does struggle to live up to the bands' emotionnally gripping previous renditions of the song, though it was still awesome to hear this old favorite of mine being played live. On a brief yet noteworthy sidenote I was also pretty surprised to hear our beloved frontman let out a few growls a couple of times during the set. After having been kept out of the spotlight for a little while during the first few tours filling in as the second half of the famous twin guitarist combo, guitarist Richie Faulkner was on full display during the show, with his tremenduous stage presence bringing bringing back some of that young energy we had not seen since the bands' earlier days, to the point where I dare say that he stole the show on more than one occasion that night. The 35 year old newcomer shreds through the songs with virtuosity and energy, winning the hard-earned praise of longtime fans by filling in for one of the toughest jobs to fill in for.
From the epic, anthemic title track to their most recent record up to the electrifying, goosebump inducing The Helion/Electric Eye combo, Judas Priests' shows have visibly not lost a bit of their charm. The setlist for the night perfectly balanced the right amount of older and newer material, hard rocking anthemic classics and electric, adrenaline-fueled blood-curlers.
One of my few slight disappointments came during the last encore of the night but really comes with the fact that the band managed to put on such a great show that we had all pretty much forgotten how old these veterans of heavy metal really are: the bands' rendition of Painkiller did make for a slight anticlimactic end for the show due to the fact that the song was slowed down considerably compared to the studio version. Glen Tipton's solo also did sound suprisingly messy, which also came off as a surprising yet understandable disappointment. Thankfully, the band carried out one final song for the night, closing off beautifully with Living after Midnight.
To answer one of the most commonly asked questions I got asked when I got back from the show: yes, after all of these years Judas has still got it. As unbelievable as it may sound, the leaders and founding figures of heavy metal music have still got what it takes to stay relevant as a live act today. When one considers the fact that the band is close to reaching a half-century long career, the simple fact that the band still manages to live up to their status and makes us forget their age is absolutely baffling. An excellent performance by a truly timeless band.
PS : A huge thank you goes out to the Rockhal staff for their incredible hospitality and support.
Judas Priest Setlist
2. Metal Gods
3. Devil's Child
4. Victim of Changes
5. Halls of Valhalla
6. Love Bites
7. March of the Damned
8. Turbo Lover
9. Redeemer of Souls
10.Beyond the Realms of Death
12.Breaking the Law
13.Hell Bent for Leather
16.You've Got Another Thing Comin'
18.Living After Midnight