Judas Priest & Testament Live In Vancouver – July 24, 2008

July 29th, 2008
by Lord of the Wasteland

Judas Priest & Testament

Thursday, July 24, 2008

General Motors Place

Vancouver, BC  Canada

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***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland


While still reeling over the shock that Judas Priest’s bloated new concept album, NOSTRADAMUS, laid down on me, I was still excited to see the band live.  This being the third time I have seen the band live since the reunion with vocalist Rob Halford in 2003, my expectations were high given the last two outings have largely been paint-by-numbers “hits” sets to reel in the masses.  Granted, “Painkiller” and “Metal Gods” will never grow tiresome but no one will miss yet another setlist rounded out with “Breaking The Law” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” (is it just me or has the latter become Priest’s “Paranoid” and “Rock and Roll All Nite,” a song everyone and their dog knows but actual fans loathe?).

Fortunately, Priest kept the same set played on their just-completed European tour which mixed the old and new, familiar and obscure up quite nicely.  The choice of Bay Area thrash gods, Testament, as the opening act really upped the ante, too, so despite a rather lacklustre turnout, the metal was out in full force.

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It has been eighteen years since I last saw Testament live (opening for Judas Priest and Megadeth, coincidentally!) and their “comeback” CD, THE FORMATION OF DAMNATION, is quickly shaping up to be one of my favourites of 2008 so far.  With a backdrop of the new album’s cover, the band took to the stage for a 45-minute run through of an oddly-chosen setlist.  Vocalist Chuck Billy, still menacing and ferocious, sounded much better than I expected.  His battle with cancer certainly has not affected his voice as his roars on “Practice What You Preach” and the vicious “D.N.R.” throttled everyone within earshot.  Guitarists Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson lit things up on “The New Order” and “Disciples of The Watch,” with Peterson adding his blackened vocal shrieks—no doubt honed in his side-project, Dragonlord—to the latter.  Granted the band only got 45 minutes but omitting any material from THE LEGACY, SOULS OF BLACK and THE RITUAL, while three tracks from 1999’s little-heard THE GATHERING were featured left many scratching their heads.  If this was a headlining show, maybe, but this was clearly a crowd who was left grasping for something familiar.  Even more curious was the complete lack of a moshpit.  A paltry crowd of maybe five hundred people witnessed Testament’s set and a pair of drunken kids tried unsuccessfully to get something started but they were quickly seen as annoying and nothing materialized.  Thrash metal and a moshpit go hand-in-hand, so it was just very odd.  Still, it is great to see Billy healthy and one of my all-time favourite bands back on the road pushing a new album again.


TESTAMENT SETLIST

Sewn Shut Eyes

The New Order

Practice What You Preach

More Than Meets The Eye

Henchmen Ride

D.N.R.

3 Days In Darkness

The Preacher

Disciples of The Watch

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Judas Priest has hinted that they may perform NOSTRADAMUS live in its entirety complete with a string section on later legs of this tour.  At first, this seemed preposterous but after seeing the band throw a few bones from the new album out there on stage, it just might work.  Opening with “Dawn of Creation” and “Prophecy” from the new album, the mood was definitely set as Halford emerged from the shadows clutching the Priest trident with his head covered by a gold cloak.  Stripped of the keyboard-heavy textures of its studio counterpart, “Prophecy” is a great live song with guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton adding background vocals on the chorus.  “Death,” another NOSTRADAMUS track featured midway through the set, is heavy on theatrics with a druid-looking figure pushing Halford out on a garish throne from below Scott Travis’ drum riser.  Halford remained seated throughout the epic track, leaning forward on a cane at points, before being wheeled back under Travis at the song’s conclusion.  Despite this break, Halford was considerably more mobile than on previous outings.  He still struts quite slowly but he also commands an audience better than many.  Who can deny the thrill of hearing that Harley revving up before seeing Halford roar out on stage for “Hell Bent For Leather”?  Many have questioned the state of Halford’s voice in recent years given his reliance on his lower register when on stage, but “Devil’s Child,” “Dissident Aggressor,” “Sinner” and “Painkiller” immediately silenced his critics.  The screams were brought out in full force and are simply incredible to witness.  Tipton and Downing displayed the prowess that influenced so many bands during the dual guitar interplay of “Rock Hard, Ride Free” and Downing really dazzled on “Sinner,” stealing the spotlight from everyone else on stage.  Even Travis, who sounds purposely reeled in on NOSTRADAMUS, showed off what he can do during the intro drum barrage of “Painkiller” amid wild cheers from the crowd.  The choice of “Angel” rather than “Victim of Changes” or “Beyond The Realms of Death” as the ballad du jour was very bold but the band must be congratulated for adding in rarely-played material like “Eat Me Alive,” “Rock Hard, Ride Free,” “Hell Patrol” and “Between The Hammer & The Anvil” among others to appeal to the true fans of the band.  As mentioned earlier, long-time Priest fans have waited patiently to sift through “Turbo Lover” and “Living After Midnight” so adding in some of the more obscure stuff was welcomed wholeheartedly.


JUDAS PRIEST SETLIST

Dawn of Creation (Intro)

Prophecy

Metal Gods

Eat Me Alive

Between The Hammer & The Anvil

Devil’s Child

Breaking The Law

Hell Patrol

Death

Dissident Aggressor

Angel

The Hellion/Electric Eye

Rock Hard, Ride Free

Sinner

Painkiller

~ENCORE~

Hell Bent For Leather

The Green Manalishi

You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

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The low turnout for this show was a bit disheartening, made even worse by the fact that the red-hot Iron Maiden sold out the 17,000-seat Pacific Coliseum just six weeks earlier.  Maybe it was a poor choice by the promoter or an overly-ambitious tour scout but the 20,000-seat General Motors Place was just too big for this show.  Still, about 7,000 heavy metal maniacs showed up to witness some “Judas Priest-styled heavy metal” and from what I could tell, no one left disappointed.


***Thanks to Brian at Adrenaline PR, Teresa at Sony BMG and Ryan at Live Nation for the press passes.

Judas Priest—Official Site

Testament—Official Site

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