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Judas Priest/Queensryche 07.10.05 Cricket Pavilion in Phoenix, Arizona

The stage and the lights and the amps are ablaze, watch them burn
From all this insanity the Metal Gods will return

Anyone who heard this line from Halford’s Resurrection CD and immediately didn’t think a Priest reunion was inevitable is just plain slow. And they better not burn my fries next time!

The bill tonight is one of the best for the summer, behind only Gigantour and Ozzfest. This double header started with Queensryche. The band is as subject to change visually as they are musically. At last count, guitarist Mike Stone was blonde, but now he has a mohawk. Not to mention the tattoos. While both are no big deal nowadays, especially for musicians, still kinda seems odd seeing it from a squeaky clean (image-wise) band like Queensryche.

The energy at the Cricket Pavilion was high as the excited crowd waited for the bands to come on. There was a lot of speculation as to what Queensryche would play. Rumor had it (a rumor generated by an interview with Geoff Tate a few days before) that in order to keep all of the Judas Priest fans out of the beer line the Ryche boys would only play music from the pre-Mindcrime era - so the anticipation was definitely elevated.

The first few chords of The Whisper off of Rage for Order played and sure enough, the beer lines cleared. People left their beloved place in line and ran for their seats as if they were being chased by bulls in Pamplona, Spain. The Whisper was followed by En Force, Neue Regel, NM 156 and Screaming in Digital which definitely kept the beer lines empty and the crowd rockin’.

Just when we thought the premonition of nothing newer than Rage for Order music would be played they broke out with Open and Desert Dance off of Tribe and it truly was a great compliment to the older genre of Ryche music. The band was extremely energetic and seemed thrilled to be on this tour with Judas Priest. They definitely were having a great time and that energy radiated to the crowd in Phoenix, even in the 115-degree heat!

The band then launched in to some of the classics with a Queen of the Reich/Nightrider medley followed by Walk in the Shadows and The Needle Lies, all of which sounded amazing and brought the crowd to nothing short of a frenzy.

Geoff then introduced a new song off of the Operation Mindcrime II (working title) album called I’m American. Everyone seemed to like it, but again, it is hard to introduce a new song at a show like this when nobody knows it and everyone wants to rock out on what they are familiar with. It did sound good though and I for one and very much looking forward to the new album.

As the lights dimmed and the crowd exploded, the mighty Judas Priest came roaring out with The Hellion/Electric Eye. The symbolic Metal Gods was next, reminding the crowd that the Priest is back.. The new material – Judas is Rising, Deal with the Devil and Hellrider fit seamlessly in to the setlist. A little surprisingly, the first single from Angel of Retribution, Revolution, didn’t do much to get the crowd’s attention.

It was probably 115, give or take, when Priest hit the stage, and only God knows how Halford was able to keep that big ass black leather jacket on for 90% of the show. Being a resident of the valley here in Arizona, I’m sure he is used to the weather, but damn…. He prowled the stage like he owned it. And tonight, they did. After all, Priest – with Halford – hasn’t played the valley since 1992.

As great as they sounded and even having the joy of Halford back in the band, I couldn’t help but think it was the same show I saw 15 years ago. Aside from a few songs off of Angel of Retribution there was almost no difference. As I looked around the venue towards the end of the show, and people looked downright bored. I think part of what dampened the show’s momentum is the set list, at least in part. With the catalog Priest has, they could have picked better songs than I’m A Rocker and Turbo Lover. While the acoustic Diamonds and Rust was a great addition and highlighted the band’s talent even more, I don’t think many fans come to see Priest play ballads.

Regardless of the stalls in momentum here and there, Judas Priest still puts on one loud heavy metal show.

Additional reporting by LdyWoreBlk
Photos © 2005 David Svendsen
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