~ Battle Hymn / Rapid Fire
~ Metal Gods
~ Heading Out to the Highway
~ Judas Rising
~ Victim of Changes
~ Never Satisfied
~ Diamonds & Rust
~ Dawn of Creation / Prophecy
~ Turbo Lover
~ Beyond the Realms of Death
~ The Sentinel
~ Blood Red Skies
~ The Green Manalishi
~ Breaking the Law
~ Drum Solo / Painkiller
~ The Hellion / Electric Eye
~ Hell Bent for Leather
~ You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
~ Living After Midnight
Now, if you haven’t seen Judas Priest before, the chances are you aren’t ever going to. This was the final show on their last ever world tour ‘Epitaph’ but we all know what happens in this world of metal and money… and come on, this is Judas Priest, who along with Slayer and Motorhead, will probably chug along until they’re at least 160. It should be mentioned at this point that if you caught Priest for the ‘only’ time at High Voltage, then you didn’t get to see the true line-up. Though there have been alterations in parts, the classic line-up is always going to be Halford, Downing, Tipton, Hill and Travis. And on this, the last show, Downing retired early. I could deviate on that for a long time, but I won’t. In the legends shoes stepped up Richie Faulkner, guitarist for Lauren Harris (daughter of Senoir Steve) and by Moses he’s a great guitarist; and he looks exactly as you’d expect a Priest guitarist to look like, circa 1980 anyway (incidentally the year of Richie’s birth, the git).
This was not the first time we had seen Judas Priest but I think it was the one we were most excited about. Opening up through ‘Battle Hymn’ came the natural ‘Rapid Fire / Metal Gods’ combo and there emitted an extra scoop of energy with Richie on stage. The magnificent ‘Judas Rising’ followed ‘Heading Out to the Highway’ before they played a treat, and incidentally one of my favourite songs ‘Starbreaker’. At this point I was going a little bit bananas and I had to put my beer down many, many times in order to maximise my air-guitaring.
The air was truly electric as the more commercial ‘Victim of Changes’, ‘Never Satisfied’ and the majestic ‘Diamonds & Rust’ smothered the slowly darkening Victoria Park and a rather enthusiastic set of gentlemen, us included. They were ploughing through the albums so we obviously had to have something off ‘Nostradamous’ and up next ran ‘Dawn of Creation / Prophecy’. I’ll take this opportunity to say that I am not actually a massive fan of that album. It’s got some great songs, and it’s classic Priest, but it just doesn’t pay the water bills in my eyes. Thank the good Metal Gods for ‘Nightcrawler’ then, which literally made me cup my drunken face in pure glee. Jamie was especially glad about the next belter, more so as it was entirely dedicated to him our friend El Presidente and myself for the rest of the evening. Serves him right for being a ‘Turbo Lover’, but there we go.
‘Beyond the Realms of Death’ followed on for a few moments of concentrated beer acquisition (which is ironically much harder when you’re headbanging and walking) before we managed to return to our spot for an absolutely ball-smashing rendition of ‘The Sentinel’. I think at this point I was beginning to feel mildly concussed but the skies had become dark and ‘Blood Red Skies’ tickled the swelling mass of metalheads.
The band are playing flawlessly and Halford’s even chucked in a few death growls, mainly because he’s Rob Halford but also because he’s Rob Halford. But being an important performance, ‘The Green Manalishi’ made it’s standard appearance; I personally believe they should have swapped this with ‘One Shot at Glory’ but for the sake of my spine it’s probably a good thing they didn’t… By this moment as well I’d become more than a 1000% convinced that this Richie chap was a fantastic replacement for KK; it’d have been far more special had he been up there but his boots were definitely laced up tonight by his replacement.
I’m pretty sure a good number of people who may have remained somewhat silent for the evening thus far soon lost their voice as the entire park screamed ‘Breaking the Law’. Which is what a few people started doing almost immediately; the mark of true metal. Few things can scratch the itch by this point in a classic Judas Priest show but we all know what’s coming when Scott nails his drum solo-ed entrance to the mighty ‘Painkiller’ and I am almost certain I toe-punted the lad in front of me during this. In my defence though, it was his calf or my beer (which as you will remember, was acquired in turbulent times).
Off they went, and so did some total peons who didn’t realise what they were doing. My absolutely favourite metal tag-team thrashed out next as they returned with ‘The Hellion / Electric Eye’ and I am more or less having a seizure standing up now. Perhaps I was even a little bit ‘Hell Bent for Leather’, which kept the people entertained on a second encore. Two encores is definitely a standard these days and I’m inclined to end it there, but obviously ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin”; the third encore. Some things really are worth fighting for and we slowed our walk away to catch the fourth and final encore; a glorious rendition of ‘Living After Midnight’ which accompanied the masses who were walking away from a stage bathed in spotlights.
I have seen many bands, some many times, and this was a performance that will live with me. It might not have been the best they’ve ever been, nor was it even the best time I’d seen them play, but it was a complete humdinger of a show and my head definitely noticed the difference by the time I’d made it home. A solid 9/10 and a classic show to ‘end’ their world touring days.
But they’ll be back, I can guarantee. They’ll release a new album and laugh at the young who’ll never touch the heights set by the legends of Judas Priiieeeeeeeest!