If I am not mistaken then this was my fifth big act that I went to see without knowing the music before the show. It is the most open-minded point of view you can take - no prejudices whatsoever. Well, none except the name of the band. In general I was quite pleasantly surprised when I heard that Judas Priest was coming to town. One by one these big acts come over here, better late than never as people say. I was not really planning to see the gig but since I was offered to go, I came with pretty high expectations.
Warm up: Sergei Abolymov
Last time I heard them was some 3 - 5 years ago. I will be honest: the music is OK but somehow each time the singer started singing I wanted to yawn. You know, good riffs start, you are looking forward to something even better and then it all disappears as you look around and lose yourself in your own thoughts. He's not bad but he did a terrific job at making the music lose its interest. I will give him credit for the last song though, his singing in English is better than in Russian.
Judas Is Rising
When Judas Priest came on it felt grand: a big stage; elevations on both sides; drums on the pedestal in the back and Rob standing in the eye on the back wall. One of their usual opening songs "The Hellion/Electric Eye" had begun.
During the first songs I really felt that the show is going to be something good. The atmosphere felt mature: the guitarists and the bassist appeared to be content with their spots on the stage; Rob moved around to meet the crowd from side to side without any flashy light effects or pyrotechnics accompanying him. Could you imagine Rob running across the stage, jumping, screaming and tearing his leather jacket off and throwing it to the crowd? No, probably not. It was just the band and their music.
Although the show started with the Judas Priest classics, my attention was caught by a couple of tracks off the last album. The curtain hanging on the back wall was switched and the Judas from the cover art appeared before the crowd. Even though the metal Judas looked good, I could not help comparing it with the Eddie of the Maiden and generally making mental notes on mass production of various combinations of steel, human body and bird wings. Once the curtain was in place Rob was slowly raised high above the stage on the pedestal behind the drums - a perfect portrayal of "Judas Rising."
The Man Of Many Jackets
Unfortunately my initial enthusiasm was not meant to last. After the following "Revolution" and with more than half of the show still ahead it all started to go slowly downhill. I found myself losing interest in the music and the show. With some rare exceptions it sounded too monotonous. And what is more important: the band was failing to fill the scene. When you are looking at a big stage you also expect the band to be big, to have this "something" that would make them enormous and lifting them to the status of the idols. This time it felt wrong and quite the other way around: the stage was big, the band could not fill it entirely and there was a certain emptiness looming. There was this tiny little charismatic something missing, and however little this detail was it quite spoiled the experience.
From then on I started noticing all kinds of details one should not notice at a good gig. I found myself looking at how the curtain on the back wall could not be centered; I found myself looking at two light technicians above the stage who were illuminating Rob wherever he went; I found myself noticing how Rob switched his jackets every ten minutes; I found myself looking at the small pieces of something small and rectangular floating down from somewhere above; I found myself not really paying attention to the music... Given the simple fact that before the show my knowledge of Priest's music could be counted on the fingers of one hand, this loss of interest underlined that something was not going well. I refuse to believe that the repertoire is not worth listening to at least once.
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Before the encore I really noticed three songs: "Breaking The Law," "Painkiller" and "Diamonds And Rust." The first two because I knew them and the third one simply because it sounded good. The band was away for a short moment and then came what I have heard is the classic trick of theirs: Rob rode out on the stage on the flashy bike. This was probably the most interesting thing that had happened since Judas was rising. Although it was nothing particularly stunning, it was still a change on the stage.
Four songs on the encore list were split into two parts and offered the crowd something they wanted. The audience was given "Living After Midnight" and after some rehearsing with the crowd "You've Got Another Thing Comin'." This "another thing" pointed out that the show was over.
I admit that this time Saku Suurhall had rather OK sound, although I will probably never say that it is good. You can not expect a sports hall to have good acoustics. There were times when the bass was rolling and the times high tones ringing from the tin ventilation tubes high up on the ceiling. But one could easily distinguish between the instruments. It was OK besides the fact that it all was again too darn loud.
In conclusion I want to point out that Judas Priest were not as good as people make it. They appeared to be quite an ordinary band. The sad thing is that I did not get the feeling, I did not manage to catch the same wave with the band and my "clean sheet" approach failed me. Maybe it was the simple matter of the day not being right. Though, most likely, it was because Priest had nothing new to offer me experience-wise. I have not seen many heavy metal bands live but Priest just did not have the wild card up the sleeve. Well, maybe I am just a tiny bit wrong. One of the best laughs in a while was that in his stage appearance, long leather coat, bald head and black and pointy beard Rob Halford made an amazingly good Lenin. If he ever moves to movie business he should give the role a go.
Rating: a grand total of 6 out of 10
Chief of the Nation
Picture: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT USA - 11 June 2005
Written on 12.12.2005 by
I shoot people.
Sometimes, I also write about it.
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