Judas Priest

support Megadeth
author AP date 10/06/18 venue Royal Arena, Copenhagen, DEN

When Judas Priest announced plans to tour for a final time in 2010, few could have imagined that the trek would still be ongoing eight years later. Granted, the reality is more likely to be that the NWOBHM legends simply decided that they still had a lot to give, and that decision has since yielded two studio albums, the latest of which landed in stores this past Spring. It is in the capacity of promoting that record, entitled “Firepower”, that the band is to perform at the largest indoor venue in Copenhagen tonight, as the fourth rock or metal titan to visit Denmark in the space of just one week (the other three having been Marilyn Manson in Århus, Iron Maiden at this same venue and Guns N’ Roses — whom we unfortunately were not able to see — in Odense). It is the ‘Priest’s first concert in Denmark since headlining Copenhell in 2011, their first indoor show in the country since 2009, and their first indoor concert here in Copenhagen since 2005, when they gave an excellent showing at Valby Hallen as our webzine was just beginning to get a foothold. It is therefore with high expectations that I arrive at the Royal Arena tonight, my excitement bolstered by the fact that the support duties are to be carried out by another legendary act: Dave Mustaine’s Megadeth, who have a lot to answer for after their disappointing concert at VEGA last year.

All photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen

Megadeth

Unfortunately, from the very first moment, it is obvious that Mustaine still does not seem to cope well with not being the main attraction, as while the remainder of his band — guitarist Kiko Loureiro, bassist David Ellefson & drummer Dirk Verbeuren — could hardly be more enthusiastic, he himself sulks like a spoiled child and generally does a fantastic job at conveying how little interest he has in playing second fiddle even to a group of Judas Priest’s stature. His compatriots would probably be able to salvage the concert with their energy though, but to add insult to injury, the sound mix is absolutely horrendous, leaving the likes of the opening track, “Hangar 18” off 1990’s “Rust in Peace”, and indeed all of the other classics, such as “Sweating Bullets” and “Mechanix”, to drown in a maelstrom of drum and bass. Verbeuren is an excellent drummer, and ditto Ellefson a bassist — but nobody is here to watch a legends’ take on Eagle Twin. The concert thus completely deflates before it even gets going, leaving all but a quartet of extremely riled-up (mega?)-fans just in front of me to count the seconds until this farcical performance draws to a conclusion to the (barely audible) tune of “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” — another rendition off the aforementioned “Rust in Peace” which does the album an unforgivable disservice. I thought it would be difficult for Megadeth to top the disastrousness of their show at VEGA in 2017, but the band gives it a good shot tonight and manages to inflict a nasty stain on its legacy with probably the worst concert that Mustaine & co. have played in Denmark to date.

4

Judas Priest

Praise be! Neither the sound mix nor the engagement of any of the five musicians leaves anything to be desired when Judas Priest erupts into action with the title track to their latest album, “Firepower”, and all is as it should be; chrome, leather and fire are in ample supply in both the band’s attire and the visuals adorning the stage, the music is delivered with both bombast and clarity, and the iconic vocalist Rob Halford sounds as powerful and shrill as ever. These are the makings of a classic ‘Priest show and by-and-large, that is exactly what the band has in store for us tonight, taking the us on a grand tour of their most revered output from 1976 to 1990, and spicing it up with three brand new tracks amongst. It is hard to imagine anyone complaining about the total omission of material from the five records that came out between 1990 and “Firepower” this year, but where the overall impression does falter somewhat — at least for myself — is in the ‘Priest’s choosing the safest and most predictable outtakes from their classic repertoire in most cases. It would probably cause a riot if staples like “Breaking the Law”, “Living After Midnight”, “Hell Bent for Leather” and “Painkiller” were not to be found on the setlist but even so — and especially with Iron Maiden’s resurrection of many a forgotten gem here five days earlier still fresh in mind — there is an argument to be made that it often pays off to be bold and to try something different.

But as predictable as the proceedings are, the showmanship of this Brummy crew once again leaves no one wanting. At 66 and 67 years of age, Halford and bassist Ian Hill have stiffened and slowed down somewhat since the days of their youth, but the two command an authority of veterans over the audience, while the more recent and younger additions to the pack — guitarists Richie Faulkner and Hell’s Andy Sneap, who is covering for the Parkinson’s-ridden Glenn Tipton on this tour, as well as drummer Scott Travis — show off their best rockstar moves and poses. Faulkner is the youngest and also the liveliest of the bunch, his swaggering guitar solos during “Sinner” (off 1977’s “Sin After Sin”) and “Saints in Hell” (off 1978’s “Stained Class”) rendering the tracks into definitive highlights of the evening. Most of the audience nonetheless seems to prefer their favourites such as “Hell Bent for Leather” (originally found on the band’s other 1978-record, “Killing Machine”) — which, as expected, sees Halford riding his trusted Harley Davidson motorbike onto the stage and draws the first crowd surfers of the evening out — and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” (off 1982’s “Screaming for Vengeance”) — which elicits the wildest headbanging and jumping from the audience yet. Indeed, the general response is much more limited when the tracks that I consider to be the triumphs of the night are aired, but that does not stop me from devouring every second of an atmospheric and moody rendering of “Night Comes Down”, nor a steamrolling take on “Freewheel Burning” (both off 1984’s “Defenders of the Faith”) on my own.

The best way to describe the festivities here is thus to concede that the ‘Priest indeed caters to the expectations of the audience. But with the exception of “Painkiller” and “Breaking the Law”, the latter of which sees the band joined by Tipton on additional guitar in the encore and even busting out a guitar solo, the concert never reaches those climactic heights required for it to go down in legend. It is a solid and extremely convincing display from the veterans with plenty of memorable moments; however, their unwillingness to take any chances does leave somewhat of a stale aftertaste and that sensation is only exacerbated by the unpredictability and grandeur of Iron Maiden’s concert at this same venue only a few days prior. It remains to be seen how many years Judas Priest still have left in them, but nothing about tonight’s concert suggests that they are planning to bring the band to an end just yet. Perhaps next time, they will take the diehard fans on a nostalgia trip through some less obvious cuts from their repertoire?

8

Setlist:

  • 01. Firepower
  • 02. Grinder
  • 03. Sinner
  • 04. The Ripper
  • 05. Lightning Strike
  • 06. Bloodstone
  • 07. Saints in Hell
  • 08. Turbo Lover
  • 09. Tyrant
  • 10. Night Comes Down
  • 11. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
  • 12. Freewheel Burning
  • 13. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
  • 14. Hell Bent for Leather
  • 15. Painkiller

— Encore —

  • 16. Rising from Ruins
  • 17. Metal Gods
  • 18. Breaking the Law
  • 19. Living After Midnight

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXVIII Rockfreaks.net.