Thursday, October 20, 2005

Metal lords worthy of worship

From the Winnipeg Free Press.

Metal lords worthy of worship
Judas Priest delivers for frenzied fanatics

Wed Oct 19 2005

Judas Priest
Oct. 18

MTS Centre

Attendance: 6,000

4 out of 5 stars

By Melissa Martin

JUDGING by their rowdy antics, most of the thousands of metal fans at the MTS Centre last night have probably never seen the inside of a confessional.
But hey, at least they got to see the Priest.

It's not blasphemy to say that for many fans, the opportunity to see '70s metal pioneers Judas Priest reunited with legendary singer Rob Halford (who had left the band in 1992 to pursue other projects) was an almost holy experience.

To further sweeten the pot, Halford wasn't the only long-lost star onstage last night. The concert also featured an opening set by the original lineup of '80s metal innovators Anthrax. The group reunited this year for the first time since booting rascal frontman Joey Belladonna back in 1992.

As fans streamed into the MTS Centre for the double bill, an impromptu game of "spot the double-X chromosome pair" was virtually fruitless. Turns out the ladies just don't like living after midnight like they used to.

No matter: most of the rowdy and raucous fans in attendance were too busy following the catechisms of metal to be too distracted by the opposite sex.

Shortly after 7:30 p.m., the lights went down and the metal horns went up as Anthrax marched onto the stage, launching into a surprisingly affable hour-long set that celebrated the release of live album Alive II.
With a comfortable demeanor and uncluttered stage show, the quintet of Belladonna, Scott Ian, Dan Spitz, Frank Bello, and Charlie Benante basked in the glow of audience approval as they shredded their way through classics like Madhouse, Antisocial, and Indians.

Even though zealous attendees lavished praise on Anthrax during the intermission (a number of well-lubricated fans were heard to be yelling "awesome" to nobody in particular), the instant that the lights shut off in the arena it became clear who really wore the studded leather pants in this touring family.

Moments after 9:00 p.m., as a sudden explosion of light announced the arrival of Halford and crew, fans erupted into a deafening array of frenzied hollering and "Priest rules" chants.

Opening with Electric Eye, the black-clad legends took instant control of the room. Stalking the stage with a deadly (if theatrical) earnestness, the band launched into a ferocious set of tunes that generations of metal fans were weaned on.

Though the concert was scheduled to last longer than two hours, the band didn't skimp on the tricks. During Solar Angels, the 54-year old Halford rattled dust from the rafters with a shocking falsetto wail; for Judas Rising (off of the band's new album, Angel of Retribution), he rose on a cross over a jet of fire.

As if that wasn't enough to prove he was the star of the show, the singer arrived in a studded leather trenchcoat that dripped spiked fringes. After that proved too tasteful, Halford traded the trench for a progressively more garish series of outerwear, including a blinding silver duster. Can't say the man doesn't take pride in his appearance.

Looking none the worse for their 36 years together, Priest marched through their set with a grim brand of grace. They threw fans a mid-set bone with a gritty rendition of their classic hit Breaking the Law before delving into other tunes from Retribution, including the ponderous Worth Fighting For.

At press time, the band was slamming into the opening riffs of 1986's Turbo Lover.

Regrettably, Retribution's epically-cheesey 13-minute opus about the Loch Ness monster was not expected to be on the set list.

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