Story and Photos By Andy ArgyrakisThe epilogue to Judas Priest's story could've ended very unhappily had the band continued on the streak it started when Rob Halford explored a solo career and Tim "Ripper" Owens took his place. Heck, they could've been discounted as nothing more than a jukebox on wheels or gloried cover act like classic rockers Foreigner, Journey and Styx, but thankfully, the band and its front man have reconvened in a series of extremely high profile opportunities come 2003. That year saw the comprehensive Metalogy box set his streets with all the essential members participating and it was enough to spark a reborn line-up. Like Iron Maiden at this year's Ozzfest, the Judas Priest reunion was extremely monumental during 2004's outing and was paired with the new album Angel of Retribution.
After that warm up run and a headlining tour this summer, Judas Priest returned to the area pumping up that project and its back catalogue while recalling just why they've been heavy metal heroes for the last three decades. And even after the time apart and weathered past, they can actually outdo Maiden and fellow purveyors Black Sabbath in both modern day performance and production. Halford hardily entered above the drum kit in black shades and a fringed biker jacket as his band mates explosively blasted out rugged riffs under a sea of strobes. But more than these sense-shocking displays, the gang could still deliver sonically on flashbacks like "Metal Gods," "I'm a Rocker" and "A Touch of Evil." Surprisingly, newer cuts like "Judas Rising," "Worth Fighting For" and "Revolution" took the intensity even more over the top, which were again coupled with fog blasts and a light show straight out of the progressive 70s.
Despite rocking everyone in the shockingly small but impressively mighty crowd, it was impossible not to overlook Judas Priest's shortcomings circa 2005. For one, Halford has considerably slowed down and often took time out to huff and puff in between selections. His charismatic cheerleading with the crowd partially masked this problem, though upon closer assessment, it was obvious he was in need of many breathers. And while cuts like "Breaking the Law," "Turbo Lover" and "Living After Midnight" might still slice and dice their way through the most treacherous surfaces, they were simply unconvincing when performed by aging leather bound men.
Nevertheless, Priest's flock remains fervent and by the time the band delivered "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" there was no stopping everyone's fists from popping in the air and victory flags flying on command. And such a menacing display is exactly why these musical brothers of bombast have lasted so long and influenced a legion of new class believers. Now if they can only sharpen up ever so slightly and stick to the most meaningful material, there's no telling what the future could hold for these newly regrouped renegades.
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