Judas Priest w/ Whitesnake – [Live]

Sunday, 30 August 2009

I must say that I really like it when a band tours in support of one of their classic albums. And since I was only 12 years old when Judas Priest released their classic British Steel album way back in 1980, and was still a couple of years away from my first big arena rock show, this was the perfect chance to finally hear some of these classic songs live. And the fact that whole thing went down at The California Mid-State Fair just made the evening that much more magical.

After entering the grounds and taking in the sights, sounds and smells of one of the biggest fairs in California, I made my way into the main grandstand area, and couldn't help but have a flashback to metal concerts of yesteryear. The folding chairs set up in the grassy dirt field gave off the vibe that was one part Day on the Green, and one part epic metal show circa 1978 at The Cow Palace. And when I walked pass a couple of dudes with matching British Steel T-shirts who looked like they were straight out of Heavy Metal Parking Lot, and caught a wiff of what they were smoking, I wondered if I actually had been transported back to 1983. I walked backstage and into the photo pit with a huge smile on my face, and couldn't wait for the festivities to begin…

When David Coverdale walked out onto the stage with his band, my immediate reaction was "Wow, this guy has still got it." And he hadn't even sung a note yet. The hair, the unbuttoned shirt, the jewelry, and most importantly, the strut in his stage presence all reminded me of those classic videos with a certain vixen dancing on the hood of a Jaguar. And the music started…

As Whitesnake launched into their set, it was quite apparent that although this was not one of the "classic" line-ups, the band can still recreate the classic songs. Guitarists Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach both have extensive hard rock resumes, and on this night they really lay down the licks and gave every song the classic Whitesnake feel. The rhythm section of Uriah Duffy on bass and Chris Fraiser kept it nice all nice and tight while providing plenty of low end. And then of course, there was the lead singer. As I already mentioned, Coverdale still has it. Not only the looks, but the voice as well. As he belted out "Love Ain't No Stranger," "Still of the Night" and "Here I Go Again", (all complete with his signature "using my mic stand as a phallic symbol" moves) I have to admit I was impressed. Toward the end of the set his voice did get a bit rough, but it only showed that he had given every song his all, and for that he and the rest of Whitesnake earned my respect. It was a fun band to see at a fun place, and I'm glad I saw them.

After a quick walk around the outdoor arena to soak up a bit more of the metal show at a State Fair atmosphere, which also included a sighting of porn legend Ron Jeremy, I made my way back to the photo pit and awaited the metal gods….

As the lights dimmed, and the crowd roared, Judas Priest hit the stage with the opening notes of "Rapid Fire," and I knew right way that this was not going to be your ordinary Judas Priest show. The band seemed totally energized, and ready to deliver the goods. And that they did. "Metal Gods," "Breaking The Law" and "United" (my personal favorite) all sounded great, especially with the trademark twin guitar attack of KK Downing and Glen Tipton. It still amazes me just how good their guitar playing still sounds these days. And as far as the legendary Rob Halford, he sounded better than I have heard him sound in years, and as he wrapped up the first half of the set with "Steeler," I couldn't believe that despite the fact that British Steel is almost 30 years old, every song sounded fresh and timeless. I was without a doubt blown away with what I just heard, and was stoked that there was still more to come. The mighty Judas Priest continued to please the fist pumping crowd with an impressive chuck of material from their back catalogue, including "Diamonds and Dust," "The Ripper," "Victim of Changes" and of course "You've Got Another Thing Coming," just to name a few. It was almost a full two hours of solid metal, and I walked out with just as much, if not more, respect than I've ever had for Judas Priest.


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