Judas Priest, live at Hartwall Arena
Helsinki, Finland 3rd of March 2005
Review and live pics by Luxi Lahtinen
For starters, I just wanna skip over this somewhat ?mandatory clich?-filled part? in which I should spit out a bunch of superlatives and proclaim loudly something like: ?The Metal God is back… LONG LIVE THE MIGHTY JUDAS PRIEST!!!!?. Instead of that I simply wanna state that it?s been 19 frustratingly long years since I saw Judas Priest playing live on the band?s ?Turbo? tour with Rob Halford fronting this great British Heavy Metal machine in front of nearly 3500 hungry Finnish Judas Priest ?maniacs back in the day. In the same breath, who would have guessed Judas Priest already visited Finland 27 years ago. That, according to the info I?ve got in my hands, happened at Tulivuori Rock, Lappaj?rvi in 1977 if you need a trivia type of question to make you a bit smarter than you may actually be… ;=)
When Judas Priest played at the House of Culture, Helsinki, Finland, in 2001 in front of about 1000 obviously quite devoted Priest -fans, despite having a well-done set from the old maestros of NWOBHM and having ?Ripper? Owens to fill up a massive spot that Mr. Halford left in Judas Priest after putting together his own solo band Halford, it?s easy to say Judas Priest was supposed to be Judas Priest, but actually Judas Priest wasn?t the band we were used to see and hear through the past 3 decades. To see Judas Priest onstage simply wasn?t the same without Rob Halford?s instant presence. As good as Owens sounded and did his duty with the Priest ?classics a very respectable way, it was sensed from the atmosphere people were hugely missing Rob Halford back to the band. It was sensed basically from everything like a puzzle wasn?t fully completed quite yet. ?THAT? one particular yet very vital piece of wholeness was missing… y?know, the most crucial one!
Then finally… the Priest ?fans all around the world kind of expected the unexpected to happen, ?a mission impossible? turned out to be ?a mission possible? after all – and Rob Halford returned back to home; back to his lifework and lifeblood Judas Priest that made him famous and known worldwide as ?The Metal God?.
As for this ongoing year, Priest?s somewhat excellent ?comeback? album ?Angel of Retribution? was eventually unleashed in March 2005, the band started a massive world tour which also arrived to Finland (thank GOD!) ? and quite surprisingly these 3 particular dates were booked to such cities as Oulu, Tampere and Hell-sinki; 3 of the most Heavy Metal -orientated cities in the whole Finland, so the Finnish Priest ?fans must have felt pretty blessed and kinda privileged for not being ignored by their idols on this tour, but getting a golden opportunity to see their Gods of a true Heavy Metal at 3 different locations in the land of thousands of lakes. Obviously this British ?metallic killing machine? had heard from somewhere in advance how Bruce Dickinson had earlier praised Helsinki as ?the capital of Heavy Metal (HA!)? in the whole Europe when Maiden visited to Finland in the fall of 2004 last time, so maybe that explains those 3 dates in Finland instead of just 1… ;=P
I arrived to the venue late with a friend of mine and we naturally missed the Swedish In Flames? set completely, but on purpose. To be honest with you, we simply had some hard times to understand why they had chosen such a lame and breathless live act to open up for these British Heavy Metal heroes because they obviously were the wrong band for this special event. I bet about 95% out of 7000 people who had bought their tickets to this particular gig, had surely come to see these high Priests of Heavy Metal in action. I mean by ?95%? us so-called ?old farts?, who seem to live full-heartedly mostly for the nostalgic times only and reject majority of so-called ?new breaths? as far as any current trends in Metal music nowadays are concerned. We simply wanted to witness Judas Priest badly live with the one and only Rob Halford, after missing him for several years and hoping to see him coming to his senses and eventually making his comeback and fronting Judas Priest again. And that?s exactly what happened ? THANK GODS OF METAL FOR THAT!!!!
(Now skipping loads of things what happened outside of the concert hall when In Flames was finishing their task as a warm-up act – including bullshitting with many of friends, some hectic beer drinking contests, etc.)
Just 10-15 minutes close to the actual show-time the scenery was pretty much the following amongst the audience: A madly acting and waving sea of a few thousand anxious Judas Priest ?maniacs… all yelling from the very top of their lungs rhythmically the name of their favorite band (?JUDAS PRIEST…!! JUDAS PRIEST…!! JUDAS PRIEST…!!!?)… lights off – and a very familiar intro (?The Hellion?) started ripping the air loudly from the sound-reproducing equipment while at the same time, a thick smoke was filling the space on the stage inch by inch. When ?Electric Eye? was kicked off in the air – we, the fans, knew right from the first moments of the show what to expect from these leather Gods of the British Heavy Metal when all the guns started to blaze maximally onstage: A full frontal assault of some of the most vintage Priest ?songs ever, spiced up with the songs off the band?s latest album ?Angel of Retribution? naturally. Choosing as classic Priest ?song as ?Electric Eye? to kick off their set, was kind of a sign of some great things ahead of us for sure. And we even didn?t have to step into sheepskin covered boots of Nostradamus in order to be able to predict that to happen…
Up next ?Metal Gods?, and Rob became a robot again just like he usually tends to do (while at the same time looking a bit ?funny?, I need to admit that, he!) when they play the song ? only soon being followed up by ?Riding on the Wind? and always so spine-chilling Priest classic song ?The Ripper?. And right after ?The Ripper? had raised each of our sprits high up on a true Heavy Metal nirvana level, one of my own personal favorite songs off the band?s very successful ?Painkiller? album, ?A Touch of Evil? threw me through nearly an orgiastic 6-minute journey. I guess each of us stood in awe of the mighty Judas-fucking-Priest in one way or the other after the band had only played those 4 aforementioned songs off their set – there?s not a slightest question about that. Undoubtedly everything seemed to be right with them now when Rob was a part of the band and the band overall seemed to be fully ready to conquer the Heavy Metal world once again, hiding under the heavy shadows for way too many years.
The next two new songs ?Judas Rising? and ?Revolution? from the band?s highly anticipated album ?Angel of Retribution? were also well received by the audience even if I?m quite certain the fans expect to hear more classic Priest songs more than anything at that night. And that?s what was about to come. The band catapulted more vintage Priest ?stuff ?la ?Hot Rockin??, ?I?m a Rocker? and a rarely heard acoustic version for ?Diamonds and Rust? being served on the menu next ? and the audience?s very enthusiastic and sincere reaction basically didn?t come as any surprise to anyone. People had come to see their favorite band having some sort of ?wish lists? generated into their minds, expecting that they could play as many old Priest ?classic as possible during that night. And when the band?s rest of the set included such evergreen, vintage Priest ?songs as an epic-like ?Beyond the Realms of Death?, ?Exciter?, ?Victims of Changes?, of course the mandatory ?Painkiller? ? and having included ?Hell Bent for Leather? into the set as one of the 3 encores, I guess it?s pretty easy to say many fans? wishes – regarding this very special evening for them, were fulfilled somewhat perfectly. In fact, in some sense it could be said that Judas Priest played pretty standard Priest ?tunes during the night, without making any unexpected surprises as far as a selection of the songs for their set was concerned. Many were surely wondering why on earth the band ignored totally the fantastic ?Defenders of the Faith? album as that particular album has not a single weak song on it. It would have been almost perfect if they had played ?Freewheel Burning? at least. Or ?Jawbreaker?. Or ?The Sentinel?? ? or ?Eat Me Alive?. Oh well, maybe on their next world tour then… we?ll wait!
Also, I wouldn?t have minded at all either if they had replaced ?Turbo? and a worn-out ?Living After Midnight? – rusted by time, to such songs as ?Saints in Hell? and ?Savage? from the band?s absolutely brilliant ?Stained Class? album which saw the light of the moonlight 27 years already. ?Tyrant? and ?Starbreaker? would have been very nice additions (or replacements) for the set list as well if you had asked from me? ;=P
Nevertheless, as a final conclusion it could be stated that the whole band looked good, they indeed sounded damn good and the audience definitely liked what they saw and heard. Priest came ? and they didn?t let us down. The last encore ?You?ve Got Another Thing Comin?? pretty much summed up the climax amongst the audience. Everybody looked happy for what they had just gone through and experienced within the past 2 hours or so.
Lights down… then the lights on again and the stage was empty. The show was over… Thank you Judas Priest – thank you very much indeed.
1. Intro ? The Hellion
2. Electric Eye
3. Metal Gods
4. Riding on the Wind
5. The Ripper
6. A Touch of Evil
7. Judas Rising
9. Hot Rockin?
10. Breaking the Law
11. I?m a Rocker
12. Diamonds and Rust (acoustic)
13. Deal with the Devil
14. Beyond the Realms of Death
15. Turbo Lover
17. Victim of Changes
18. The Green Manalishi (with the Two Pronged Crown)
20. Hell Bent for Leather
21. Living After Midnight
22. You?ve Got Another Thing Comin?