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Artist: Judas Priest
Venue: PNC Bank Arts Center - Holmdel, NJ
Opener: Queensryche
Label: Sony Records
Date: 6/10/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Promoter: Ron Delsner

As much as I enjoyed the teaser set at last year's Ozzfest, there was little that could bring down my level of excitement when I found out that Judas Priest would be touring the States again as a reunited band with Rob Halford leading the charge. As an added treat they had decided on Queensyche as their opener for this tour. It was a smart choice as Queensryche is always good live, however I felt Priest would have been better served by some promising up and coming Metal band. As one can expect Queensryche is continually good in live performance. Geoff Tate walks the stage with such a regal presence, he always has. Guitarist Mike Stone was sporting a greased up Mohawk this time making him appear to fit in more with a Blink or Charlotte band more than The 'Ryche and he really rips of the guitar. Scott Rockenfield is using two bass drums once again which I am pleased to report and he is also showcasing his "RockenWraps" product. Every drum on his kit had them and it’s an interesting concept in customization to say the least. Eddie Jackson and Michael Wilton continue to impress me to this very day. Seasoned professionals all around. While it is a shame that Chris DeGarmo never returned for any of these killer shows (the live “Mindcrime” presentation last year and now the Priest tour), it seems as though the audience is no longer affected by it. Tate has also commented recently that the door is closed on that return at this point.

On this tour Queensryche returned to a good amount of very old material in the most case. A number of songs had not been played in some time were brought back out to the audiences resounding approval. His banter with the crowd was very basic, and calm mainly thanking everyone for the support and if they were ready to rock. The most noted comment was to our overseas military who he hopes comes home safe and soon. Highlight for me in the set were clearly “Walk In The Shadows” (one of my favorites) and “Take Hold Of The Flame” (one of the most powerful closers ever). The audience was also treated to a sample of the new release “Operation Mindcrime II” with the tune “I’m American”. If the rest of the album holds up like this track, I feel we will not be too disappointed. I have to say in closing my Queensryche comments that while Geoff does not sound exactly the same as 20 years ago (and how can he), he still holds one of the most pure voices in Progressive Metal to this very day.

When the lights went down for Priest, the air was charged from the front row to the very last person on the lawn area. Dramatically set, the stage was powerful in its design and out they came. KK, Glen, Ian and Scott to the beginning intro tape of “Hellion”. As “Electric Eye” began we startled by the sudden appearance of the man everyone was excited to see. Rob Halford, “The Metal God” appeared from behind the drums as the vocals began and he pretty much stayed in this space for a large part of the song. That annoyed me a little as a photographer who was shooting with limited time. Yet I digress. As the next songs progressed Halford came down towards the front of the stage a little more and walked back and forth between K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton who did not stop their swaying to the music once during the entire night it seemed. It was fun to see audience members swaying as well.

Halford’s voice was as amazing as I had expected. I noted earlier about how impressed I was with Tate’s but Rob’s voice really shoots off the Richter scale of vocalists in the Metal Arena. You can see with him why he is revered to this very day and what made Priest such a special band in Heavy Metal history. They are truly Lords Of The Genre and it was intense to find myself in a sold out venue where everyone seemed to know the words to all the songs. I really think the added part of Priest’s appeal and overall power is the continued drumming of Scott Travis. This Racer X powerhouse is one of the best Metal drummers I have heard and he is pulling off the Les Binks stuff with ease. The audience itself was interesting as well, for in my life I had never seen as many air-guitars and air-drums going on in one place. Yes, I was doing it as well. Heh heh. I guess if one can find some off-parts of the show I would have to say the guitar-solo thing that Glenn Tipton does was dreadful and I could not wait for it to end. He is such a great player, but this screaming high chord display is merely done to get the audience to yell. There was enough of that without the prompting, and it seemed off key in this outdoor venue. I also feel that Rob’s stage banter leaves something to be desired. Granted he is the Metal God, but the “oh yeah oh yeah” for five minutes before the closing number is just unnecessary. They could have used the time for one more tune. His “Breaking The Law” intro is just well, the same and one would think that this Master could have changed it up a bit after all this time. Halford did seem genuine with the crowd telling them how happy he were that the new CD and Reunion had been well-received, periodically shaking peoples hands in the front rows.

There were not a lot of effects going on for the show just some platforms that raised Halford up and down and smoke and a great lighting rig. There were “faux” flames for one number but that was about it. As far as the set list was concerned, Priest made sure to pull out a lot of surprises. There was a sufficient amount of classic material and also a few numbers from their latest release “Angel Of Retribution”. I had researched online at earlier set lists and I was sad to see a couple of the numbers left off. Most specifically would be “Green Manalishi With The Two-Pronged Crown” and “Hot Rockin’”. some of the people around me were griping about either the inclusion of “Turbo” or one too many of the new tracks. I agree that we could have done without “Turbo Lover”, but I did feel “Revolution” sounded better live than on the new CD. Time wise I felt the set ran about 1.75 hours which is nice, a good 20 tunes were played and everything is listed below. Despite my minor qualms, this was still a kick ass show and I say that every Metal head should really get to one of these performances. The Priest has come back to kick our ass and they still do it very well. A Live DVD from earlier in this tour was filmed and is set for a Summer end release.

Notes On The Jones Beach Theater Show: 6/17/05

I also attended the Jones Beach performance of this tour since everyone I knew was going to this one. How can you pass up on that chance to relive the youthful concert adventuring with large groups of your buddies? I have to say that this was pretty much the same exact show for both bands with songs and even crowd banter being the same. The same high points and the same low points in each set as referenced above. The only difference is them mentioning the different venue they played in. I will admit that PNC has a more contained sound if you are under the structure and not the lawn, while Jones Beach being very open the sound sometimes just shoots passed you. Either way, a great time for everyone who attended. A killer tour book is on sale at the shows and it is a must buy. As I also said, get to one of these shows and show the support for the Masters. You will not regret it. “Judas Is Rising” – Indeed.

Queensryche Set List (not in order):

1. The Whisper
2. Empire
3. Take Hold Of The Flame
4. Walk In The Shadows
5. Surgical Strike
6. En Force
7. Desert Dance
8. Neue Regel
9. The Needle Lies
10. Screaming In Digital
11. Open
12. NM 156
13. I’m American
14. Queen Of The Reich/Nightrider (medley)

Judas Priest Set List:

1. Hellion
2. Electric Eye
3. Metal Gods
4. Riding On The Wind
5. A Touch Of Evil
6. Judas Rising
7. Revolution
8. Breaking The Law
9. I'm A Rocker
10. Diamonds And Rust - acoustic
11. Deal With The Devil
12. Beyond The Realms Of Death
13. Turbo Lover
14. Hellrider
15. Victim Of Changes
16. Exciter
17. Painkiller
18. Hell Bent For Leather
19. Living After Midnight
20. You've Got Another Thing Comin'


Official Web sites:
www.JudasPriest.com
www.Queensryche.com

--Ken Pierce


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