Judas Priest: Live Last Night
By Dave McKenna
The album-themed tour has trickled down to heavy metal. At Merriweather Post on Saturday, Judas Priest played all of "British Steel," 1980 LP that's about as important to the genre as the Book of Genesis is to the Bible.
With "British Steel," the quintet that formed 40 years ago in Birmingham, England, forged a brand of hard rock that was both macho and non-sexual. By the time singer Rob Halford broke metal's "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy by coming out as a gay man in 1998, he had been wearing leather chaps and studded jackets for decades, and gotten most of his professional peers to follow.
(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)
Halford, who turns 58 this week and is still all about the leather, kicked off the Merriweather show by delivering the opening line to "Rapid Fire" -- "Pounding the world like a battering ram!" -- in the menacing shriek that just about all metal vocalists try to copy to this day. Heads banged, devil horns flashed and lasers beamed as Halford and his mates pounded the crowd with every "British Steel" track played in the order found on the UK version of the LP, and at a volume that could make a jet engine feel feeble. Guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, also leather clad, duplicated the twin lead licks and facial sneers that the crowd, made up of what appeared to be fans from at least as far back as this batch of tunes, expected of them.
Following the nine tunes from "Steel," Priest went through the more popular pages of its catalogue, including the slasher epic "The Ripper," the closest-to-pop foray "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," and a cover of Joan Baez's "Diamonds and Rust" so heavy that not even Baez could identify it as one of her own.
Longtime local heroes Kix opened the show with a set of fun, AC/DC-ish hard rock of the sort that used to make crowds at Hammerjack's bounce. Kix was a last-second replacement for Priest's original tour partner, Whitesnake, after that band's puffy-haired singer, David Coverdale, blew out his throat during a recent show. It's probably not a bad thing Whitesnake didn't make the gig, what with the godawful things the night's humidity would have done to Coverdale's coif.
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