Judas Priest goes out loud ‘n’ proud in Vancouver on final world tour



By Steve Newton

There were a lot of empty seats at Rogers Arena last night (October 30)–including the entire top level–but that didn’t stop British heavy-metal legends Judas Priest from playing like it was their last gig ever in Vancouver.

And it just might be.

As guitarist Glenn Tipton explained in last week’s Georgia Straight, the band is giving up on world tours. So it could be some time before the leather-clad quintet brings its ear-busting brand of “classic metal”–as singer Rob Halford describes it–back to town.

Halford stalked the stage in his typical lumbering manner, taking the time to politely introduce most every song in Priest’s two-hour-plus set. The group performed at least one track from each of its 16 studio albums, from 1974’s Rocka Rolla through to 2008’s Nostradamus, while shooting flames and red and green lasers lit up the rink.

Highlights of the set included the rampaging “Electric Eye”, off the band’s double-platinum Screaming for Vengeance album of ’82, and its monumental version of underrated guitar hero Peter Green‘s “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)”. I still haven’t quite figured out what a green manalishi is, unfortunately. Or why it even needs a two-pronged crown.

New Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner proved to be a worthy replacement for original guitarist K.K. Downing, who quit the group suddenly last year. He particularly shone when given the opportunity to solo during the band’s biggest radio hit, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”. Faulkner pulled off his finest Randy Rhoads impression, even using a cream-coloured Les Paul in case you needed a hint what he was up to.

There was no shortage of shit-hot guitarwork last night, of course, since the support acts were Black Label Society–featuring longtime Ozzy Osbourne fretburner Zakk Wylde–and Thin Lizzy, whose longtime guitarist Scott Gorham is one of the tastiest hard-rock pickers to ever strap on a Gibson. When Lizzy opened the show shortly after 6 p.m. only a small portion of the night’s crowd was there to see them, which was a real shame. Songwise, they were the most impressive act of the three.

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