San Antonio, Texas – June 25th, 2009
By Robert Williams
The much heralded return of British metal legends Judas Priest with the band’s "US 2009 Summer Tour" was met with remarkable success at the massive AT&T Center on Saturday July 25th in San Antonio, Texas. The weeks leading up to the concert saw local radio station KLBJ FM ask their listener’s "Some pretty big shows are coming up. Who are you most excited to see?" in the form of a poll on the popular classic rock formatted radio station’s website. Judas Priest claimed victory peaking with ninety five percent of the vote beating out the likes of Metallica, AC/DC, Paul McCartney, Journey and the Black Crowes. It was more than clear that Texans were ready for some Priest!
On the band’s current trek the classic "British Steel" album is played in it’s entirety to commemorate the album’s thirtieth anniversary. Technically speaking "British Steel" will not turn thirty until April 23rd of next year but there wasn’t a single fan in the AT&T Center on Saturday that would dispute Judas Priest "Breaking The Law" and getting the party started a little earlier than next April.
Supporting Judas Priest on the much anticipated summer tour was the David Coverdale fronted Whitesnake featuring former Dio axeman Doug Aldrich on guitar. David and company performed a near hour long, ten song set that kicked off with "Best Years" the first track off of the band’s latest studio album "Good To Be Bad" The microphone stand twirling David Coverdale was running back and forth onstage at the AT&T Center and you could tell he was having fun performing for the crowd. "Bad Boys" from the band’s eighth self titled studio album was next and received a good reception. "Love Ain’t No Stranger" from "Slide It In" preceded the band’s megahit "Slow An’ Easy" before the band launched into a version of "Lay Down Your Love" that was heavy on guitar solos from Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach. "Crying In The Rain" featured a thunderous drum solo from Whitesnake skinsman Chris Frazier before pulling out the band’s monster ballad "Is This Love?" from the five times platinum self titled album. As Whitesnake’s set drew to a close they also wowed the crowd in San Antonio with "Give Me All Your Love" and the Tawny Kitaen inspired "Here I Go Again" saving the classic "Still Of The Night" for their last song. All in all, a very solid hard rocking set from Whitesnake.
Love Ain’t No Stranger
Slow and Easy
Lay Down Your Love (both guitar solos)
Crying In The Rain (drum solo)
Is This Love
Give Me All Your Love
Here I Go Again
Still Of The Night
A giant silk backdrop that read "Welcome To The Home Of British Steel" engulfed the stage as neon green lasers danced across it. The lasers shot out images of a steel worker hammering steel as the crowd started roaring in anticipation of the Priest. This concert actually featured a lot of state of the art laser beams, giant cloth backdrops and fog. No pyro or elaborate catwalks this go round, but it actually helped play up the nostalgic theme of seeing and hearing the band play a near thirty year old album in my opinion. Who had massive pyro and elaborate catwalks in 1980? Ok…well besides Kiss…
One thing worth noting is how superior Rob Halford’s vocal performance has been as of late. Whatever he has been doing to get his vocals in tip top shape is indeed working and it would seem that most fans can agree that this is the best he has sounded in years and that is saying a lot. This concert was also the most I have ever seen Rob Halford move around onstage from the last three U.S. tours. When you combine that with powerhouse drummer Scott Travis helming the drumthrone twirling his sticks fifteen feet in the air and then catching them while never missing a beat, the ever steady, in the pocket delivery of bass player Ian Hill and the masterful fretwork of the legendary tandem of Glenn Tipton and KK Downing you know you are in for a perfect metal concert.
As for the "British Steel" set…We have probably all come to expect songs like "Breaking The Law" "Living After Midnight" "Metal Gods" and even occassionally "United" to make Judas Priest’s setlist. But let me tell you, hearing stuff like "Rapid Fire" (which the band took the stage with) "You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise" "Steeler" and "The Rage" in a live atmosphere is something I won’t soon forget as it is unlikely for the band to play these lost gems again. (Rumor has it that after the current tour the band begins production on bringing the "Nostradamus" album to a live setting.
"The Ripper" was the first song that the band pulled from their vast repertoire that didn’t come from the British Steel album. The visual of the band knee deep in fog plays well with the lyrical content of the song and Rob’s banshee shrieks and wails in tow made this song one of the show highlights for me.
"Prophecy" was the only song off of Judas Priest’s latest album "Nostradamus" that was to be featured Saturday night. The "Nostradamus" backdrop was displayed for this song. "Hell Patrol" being the lone representation of the pummeling 1990 studio album "Painkiller" was very well received before the band took us way, way back in time to the mid seventies for the epic "Victim of Changes" Always a crowd pleaser and a treat to see live in concert, "Victim" was worth the price of admission alone! (Rob can still hit the high notes just in case you were wondering)
After a brief offstage intermission Rob Halford cruised back onstage for the first of two encores on a Harley Davidson motorcycle as the band delivered a blistering version of "Freewheel Burning" showing the San Antonio fans why they can lay claim to being the "Metal Gods" – San Antonio being a biker city and all, this received a huge reception!
"Diamonds and Rust" was the only song played live from the "Sin After Sin" album and while I much rather would have heard an original (Diamonds and Rust is a Joan Baez cover) Priest song from that album like "Sinner" or "Dissident Agressor" I can report that the band performed the electric version of this song and it had many in the audience singing along.
Rob got the crowd going with his classic "Wo-ah-wo-ah-woooo yeah" call and response bit where he would call and the audience would respond. Next he very genuinely thanked the fans for their support and said "God bless the troops" commenting on the band’s latest backdrop featuring the band’s logo set against a merged American flag and Union Jack. It was now time for the last song of the evening "You’ve Got Another Thing" coming. Rob encouraged the audience to sing along inviting them to sing the first few lines of the song. As show closing numbers usually do; "You’ve Got Another Thing Coming" was extended in duration until everyone was thoroughly exhausted from cheering and rocking and closed the evening out on a high note. I would definitely recommend catching this tour if it comes to your neck of the woods!
Breaking The Law
You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise
Living After Midnight
Victim of Changes
Diamonds and Rust
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin‘