33 years after the Screaming for Vengeance tour, Priest still sounds pretty rockin’ to the Newt

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all crappy iPhone photos by the Newt

By Steve Newton

The first time I ever saw Judas Priest was at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum on the Screaming for Vengeance tour in 1982. I remember the show well because a week or two before it I did one of my earliest heavy-metal interviews, with bass player Ian Hill.

That was cool.

So was going to see Priest tonight at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver. I just got back and I gotta say: not too shabby.

For starters, the sound did not destroy my ears.

And K.K. Downing’s replacement, Richie Faulkner, acquitted himself quite nicely–even though he’s a little too much with the Randy Rhoads vibe.

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And most importantly, Rob Halford‘s to-the-max vocals were pretty impressive for a guy who turns 65 next year.

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After using Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” as walk-on music–Halford told me a few weeks ago that “it gets our road crew to put down the beer and get ready for the show”–the band launched into “Dragonaut”, the opening track off last year’s Redeemer of Souls album.

Fourteen or so tunes later it would end its second encore with “Living After Midnight”, the anthemic paeon to partying from it’s 1980 British Steel LP.

In between the quintet enthusiastically banged out other radio hits like “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”, “Turbo Lover”, and “Breaking the Law”, as well as lesser-known tunes like “Desert Plains”, which came off particularly well.

On the downside, there were way too many tall, get-in-front-you guys in the audience. Shouldn’t they be small, bent-over guys by now?

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But at one point the goodheartedness of those tall, get-in-front-of-you guys revealed itself when a young man in a wheelchair tried rolling his way to the front of the stage. A couple of dudes lifted him up over their heads, wheelchair and all, so he could spend a few precious seconds worshipping the “metal god” eye-to-eye:

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Say what you will about the hygiene habits of your heavy-metal maniacs–they’re a compassionate bunch!

Then again, if you dare ask where all the white Judas Priest t-shirts are located, you’ll get this withering look from their merch guy:

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