Posts Tagged ‘Judas Priest’
Judas Priest w/ Lamb Of God at Fort Canning, Singapore 20th February 2012
Judas Priest over the last nine months having been touring round the World taking their Epitaph Tour across the Boards to their fans in every corner of the planet. The Epitaph Tour is so called because it has been acknowledged as their last ever World Tour. Well it only seems fair as all the original members left in the Band are now in their Mid-Sixties and touring doesn’t get any easier as you get older.
As the tour was being set up in early 2011 an almighty spanner was hurled into the works by the sudden announcement that one of the founding members of Judas Priest, K.K. Downing having been in the Band for four decades was throwing in the towel, and doing what very few Rock stars have ever done…retire. Of course like many Rock Bands Judas Priest are not totally unused to Line up changes having gone through a Spinal Tap’s worth of drummers before settling on Scott Travis in the Eighties, and Lead Singer Rob Halford left for over a decade in the early 90’s before coming home.
Could the Mighty Priest still Rock without one half of their dual lead guitar line up? The other being Glenn Tipton, who had shared all the Headbangin’ Heavy Metal guitar riffs with K.K. Downing. The remaining members of Judas Priest recruited young hot shot guitar slinger Richie Faulkner and never missed a beat going on for better things.
This Writer was lucky enough to catch Judas Priest at the High Voltage Festival London in 2011. They headlined and easily took credit as the best Band of the first day, playing over the likes of Slash, Thin Lizzy and Queensryche. But this was early days with the new line up and led one to suspect that with a bit more time, greater things were achievable.
So my next encounter with Judas Priest was set for Monday 20th February 2012 at Fort Canning in Singapore. This was going to be Judas Priest’s first ever concert in Singapore and of course quite sadly, probably their last. Fort Canning is a wonderful place to see any show with its lush grass, natural Amphitheatre and wonderful rows of bars and shops surrounding it. So no shortage of provisions there then or getting a good place to watch proceedings. Since High Voltage in London over Six months previously, the Band have toured all over the United States of America, South America and then a series of Asian Concerts concentrating on one the Priest’s strongholds, Japan. But luckily for us they arranged to drop off and headline Fort Canning in Singapore before going for one final crusade around Europe.
Supporting Judas Priest at Fort Canning were Lamb Of God, not a Band I was familiar with and although a fair section of the crowd seemed to be enjoying it, it all seemed very repetitive to these ears. Speedy Thrash metal with very shouty vocals. Randy Blythe is a very energetic shouter and charges around the stage like a young bull. But when he asked the crowd to sing-a-long with them I thought I would do myself a mischief if I tried, so retired to the Jagermeister , the main Sponsors tent to prepare for the onslaught of Judas Priest.
The Epitaph Curtains were in place and it was not long before the battle cry of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs was coming out of the speakers. The Curtain dropped and with an almighty musical explosion the Band came rockin’ onto the stage going straight into Rapid Fire a perfect opener as it allows each Band member to stretch out his musical muscle, giving the sound crew the chance to get everything into balance as the Band launch themselves at the 8,000 strong audience of which many had travelled from all over Asia to catch Judas Priest live.
Since High Voltage, the Band have really gelled and now Rock like the proverbial hurricane. I was lucky enough to catch the Band in England many times in the late 70’s and early 80’s after which a huge gap until 2011. But without a shadow of a doubt this was the top of the list Judas Priest experience. The big difference between High Voltage and Fort Canning was the completion of the Band. At High Voltage only new boy Richie Faulkner really playing to the crowd (It was still a great performance) but this was something else.
Rob Halford was as animated as I have ever seen him moving about the stage, climbing the ramps, and using many costume changes especially effective was the Gold Priest’s outfit for Nostradamus’s Prophecy which was one of the stand out tracks for the Evening which is quite extraordinary, as I have never been that impressed with the double album itself. But tonight Prophecy shook Singapore to its very core and sent the audience wild. Rob Halford was also continually milking the audience for a response, which he got back in spades and with relaxed and informative introductions to each piece of new music. Explaining to the audience that the next song comes from their first album from 1974 ‘Rocka Rolla’ before the Band broke into Never Satisfied. Half the audience probably were not even born then! But for all his years fronting one of the World’s greatest Heavy Metal Bands, Rob Halford was in fine voice all night long. Leading the Band from the front with his dominant vocals hitting all the higher notes with what seemed like consummate ease.
Glenn Tipton this time around seemed much keener to get on with the ripping guitar solos himself rather than leaving the flash work to his younger colleague, and he too was challenging the front rows of the crowd with machine gun motions, whilst strutting his stuff in his bright red leather pants. Ian Hill’s bass playing was the anvil around which the Judas Priest sound centralizes on and his fluid runs kept the Band thundering along. For Singapore Ian Hill had a smile on his face which you could only sometimes be seen as he was enveloped in dry ice whilst smashing his head back and forth to the heavy beat. Scott Travis drummed with the energy of a demented man, leaning into his Drum kit all the while driving the Band upwards and onwards.
Although the set list was exactly the same as High Voltage, it was played with far more energy and power. Being the same set is quite right, what do you expect from a tour going under one title. Epitaph. If you could only get to see Judas Priest once on the tour imagine your disappointment if they had left your favorite song off, just for the sake of change. Who could complain with a song off every Priest album (with of course the exception of albums done without Rob Halford) and a healthy four off ‘British Steel’ , a real greatest hits tour. Thankfully omitting the rather tedious ‘United’.
Painkiller finally came in with all guns blazing to bring the set to a perfect close, but there was still more to come. The Band jumped back onto the stage to kick straight into Electric Eye, before Rob Halford leaves stage left for one more costume change, as you can hear the mighty Gold Harley Davidson being revved into action for the singer to roar back into the arena astride the two wheeled monster and delivers Hell Bent for Leather’s vocals from the comfort of the bike’s seat. To top this we are whisked into the world of Richie Faulkner, who has taken the old Judas Priest chestnut You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ and made the song all his own, indulging himself and the more than appreciative audience with a widdly extended guitar solo delivered from on top of the stacks. Then in a quick turnaround of tradition, abandoning his drum stool, Scott Travis comes down to the front of the stage with drum sticks held aloft demanding that the crowd call for more as the Band return to finish off Singapore with the Priest anthem Living After Midnight, finally leaving Rob Halford to take a final bow whilst leading the audience through several chants from the football terraces.
Mention must be made of the Lighting and Stage production during the set, which helped to enhance the music. The stage being bathed in different coloured lights for different songs, with the cover of the album the song came from up on the big screen. The Pumping Turbines on the big screens during Turbo Lover being particularly amusing, as well as the bright fluorescent green in which the Fleetwood Mac cover ‘The Green Manalishi’ (with the Two Pronged Crown) was played. There also cannot be much dry ice left in Singapore after this evening. Put all together it was a night of triumph for Judas Priest.
Judas Priest now have a month to catch their breath before invading Europe, then in May the Epitaph Tour comes to an end at Hammersmith Odeon (or whatever it’s called now). In this form Judas Priest will blow the roof off the home of London’s rock scene. You have been warned.
Judas Priest are:
Rob Halford – Vocals, Costume Changes, and Motor Cycle riding.
Ian Hill – Bass Guitar.
Glenn Tipton – Lead Guitar.
Scott Travis -Drums and Rabble Rousing.
Ritchie Faulkner – Lead Guitar.
War Pigs – Black Sabbath song Intro track
Heading Out to the Highway
Victim Of Changes
Diamonds and Rust (Joan Baez cover)
Beyond the Realms of Death
Blood Red Skies
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown – Fleetwood Mac cover)
Breaking the Law Instrumental (with the Crowd singing all the words)
Drum Solo leading into Painkiller
The Hellion (Intro)
Motor Bike entrance
Hell Bent For Leather
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Living After Midnight
By Kim Fletcher
Having recently reviewed the Rock Landmarks book on Judas Priest’s British Steel written by rock journalist Neil Daniels (which I rather enjoyed), I felt I needed to know more about Neil and his work. Taking some time out from working on upcoming projects on Metallica and Iron Maiden, Neil took the TAPEtoTAPE Q&A and tells all about life as a Rock scribe….
Well, I first started writing about music after I left Uni back in 2003. I started writing for websites like musicOMH and other lesser known sites and then I moved onto fanzines like Fireworks and Powerplay. I’ve contributed to Record Collector, Big Cheese and Rock Sound over here in the UK. I write mostly for Fireworks these days though. They’re great to write for and very lenient with the word count. It’s becoming a joke now in some magazines. I mean, how can you possibly say what you think about an album in 100 words? There’s hardly much point in listening to the whole album. It’s the same with music books. I read 100 word reviews of my books and wonder if the reviewers have actually read it or just skimmed through and looked at the pictures!
I then had an idea for a book which became Defenders Of The Faith: The Story Of Judas Priest and from there the books have rolled on, thankfully. The Priest one was fortuitous timing because of the reunion and the new album Angel Of Retribution. Since then of course there have been more books on them (some very good ones!) as well as my second book on the band Dawn Of The Metal Gods, written with ex-singer Al Atkins and now my third one: Rock Landmarks – Judas Priest’s British Steel. Other books include, Journey, Bon Jovi, Linkin Park and four anthologies.
I like blues music too so bands like Sabbath, Zeppelin, Cream, AC/DC and early Stones are favourite bands of mine. But then I like AOR bands like Journey and Foreigner and classic British bands like Motorhead and Saxon. Basically, I like strong melodies, powerful vocals and a terrific riff.
I like mostly rock and metal but don’t forget that those genres are very broad. Even Britney Spears has called her self a rock star. I like blues players like Robert Johnson and less heavy rockers like Bruce Springsteen and Eric Clapton.
Does your music writing mask a failed musical career yourself?
Ha, no, not really. I took guitar lessons as a kid but was never very good and never really wanted to pursuer it anyway.
Musicians and the press often have a love/hate relationship, have you had any difficult encounters when you have been writing/researching for your pieces?
Fortunately I’ve never had any difficulties with anyone I’ve interviewed. The difficulties, however, have come from management. I’m not going to name names buy they can be awfully difficult to deal with. Most of my interviews are done at home over the phone. The days of writers travelling the world with rock bands for access all areas type features are over as record companies don’t have the cash to fund it anymore. There are some cool tales in my books All Pens Blazing that might interest you.
Which other music journalists (past or present) do you admire?
That’s a good question and one that ties in with the publication of my books All Pens Blazing: A Rock & Heavy Metal Writer’s Handbook Vols 1 and 2. The first vol was my first print on demand book – which seems to be the way to go for music/non-fic writers at the moment because of the recession – and is available from Amazon and Authorsonline.co.uk as well as other online book stores. OK, so now the book plugging is out of the way (ha!) I’ll directly answer your question: I like the ex-Kerrang! scribes like Derek Oliver, Paul Suter and Dave Reynolds. I’m not old enough to have read them back in the eighties but have discovered their writings through back issues. They were/are very, very passionate about music and have encyclopaedic knowledge of rock and metal. That kind of enthusiasm comes across better than a few well written sentences, if you know what I mean. Some writers try to be too clever and are more interested in themselves than the music, but with those guys you could tell it was the music that matters. They’re interviewed in All Pens Blazing along with fellow ex-Kerrang! scribes Neil Jeffries, Dante Bonutto, Dave Dickson, Malcolm Dome and Howard Johnson. There are 65 writers in total in vol 1 and about the same in the second one.
I also like Martin Popoff – as every other metal writer does – because he is also very passionate and knowledgeable and, with Martin, he intellectualises a style of music (classic rock/metal) that has been derided for years and that, I think, is very admirable. There should be more writers like him.
How long does it take to write a biography? Is the research the most time consuming part or is it putting the whole thing together that is the hardest?
It depends on the subject to be honest and what the publisher wants. I’ve written books in as little as 3 months but then I’ve written some in 10 months. All depends on the word count too and my own knowledge of the bands.
You co-authored Dawn Of The Metal Gods: My Life In Judas Priest & Heavy Metal with original Judas Priest singer and co-founder Al Atkins, how did this come about?
Basically, I’d worked with Al a lot during the researching and writing on my Priest bio Defenders Of The Faith, which came out through Omnibus Press in 2007 and is now out in paperback (gotta get that sales pitch in, right?). He has loads of great stories about the band from the pre Halford years (1969-1973) and kept a few stories to himself for his own book. He’d already started work on his book but the word count was too low and he needed somebody to assist him to finish it off and make a coherent narrative. I had nothing else on the go and liked what he’d written so I thought, “Why the hell not?” Matthias Mader at Iron Pages in Berlin liked my Priest bio and was keen on the Atkins book so there was no problem getting a small book deal. Any book deal is better than none, right? I thought IP did a really good job on the production of Biff Byford’s autobiography so it was a no-brainer for us. Matthias is a really cool guy and has an immense knowledge of metal history so he was keen to work with us. He’s also very friendly and approachable. His reputation preceded him which is not what you’d say about a lot of publishers.
Nobody else was all that interested because I had a book out on the band as did Martin Popoff and Matthias himself had published a German bio so the book market was already saturated with Priest tomes after years and years of starvation. The Atkins book came from a different angle in that it’s the autobiography of a former member, plus Al had been in bands before and after Priest and had released a handful of solo albums. He’s a down to earth bloke with some really cool stories and the picture sections in the book speak for themselves. Sales haven’t been that great which is a shame because Priest fans and metal archivists, if they gave the book some time, would enjoy the pictures and anecdotes. It’s an historical document about metal history, at least that’s what I tell myself. Most of the reviews were positive. Naturally some criticised us for cashing in on Priest’s recent success, etc. and complained that we went off on tangents in the narrative but that’s Al’s style. He’s a humble working class guy and has only ever used the Priest name when record companies (on his solo albums) have required him to do so. You can read all about it on my website.
They’re the most diverse and influential metal band of all time! With this little book on British Steel I wanted to work with Jerry Bloom because I liked his Rock Landmarks book on Rainbow’s Long Live Rock N Roll and British Steel seemed like a no-brainer.
What effect do you think KK Downing’s departure from Judas Priest will have on the band?
In the long run, possibly more than Halford’s departure because he was bound to come back after he tried his hand at a solo career but with Downing, I don’t think he’ll come back now. I saw them on their recent UK tour and though they were much better than the previous road jaunt but they still looked fatigued.
In an increasingly digital world, do you see a time when physical books will be completely replaced by a virtual format?
At some point, yes, but not during my lifetime. We will live in a Star Trek world where everything is digitised. Personally, I like books.
I believe you have an Illustrated History Of Iron Maiden coming out next year. This must be an expansive project given the amount of merchandising/touring they have done. Will you be concentrating on any specific Countries/time periods?
It will be a massive coffee table book with a potted histories, extensive reviews of every album plus pocket boxes of information on merchandising, their success abroad, etc etc. The graphics will be pretty cool too. You can check out the cover at Amazon.
Which is your favourite period in Maiden’s history? What do you feel Di’Anno and Blaze brought to the sound?
Certainly the 1980s with Dickinson. I’d much rather listen to the Di’Anno albums than the Bayley ones. The Di’Anno era was certainly more punk than metal so when Dickinson came into the fold, they become a fully-fledged metal band.
What can you tell us about the new Metallica book you are working on? You say it focuses on the early years, which period exactly are you looking at?
It’s’ be out in early 2012 by IMP Books and will focus specifically on the first four albums before the drastic change in sound with The Black Album. This was the period when Metallica were kings of the underground metal scene and recorded some of the most dangerous and aggressive metal of the eighties. Metallica fans will usually always refer to this period as the most creatively interesting era in the band’s history. Of course, it’s all changed since then. Look at what they’re doing now!
Have you heard the Metallica and Lou Reed album yet? What do you think, genius or ludicrous?
No, not yet. I’ve heard it’s dire though. There’s been massive backlash so it’s not a surprise that they recently announced they’re heading back into the studio with Rick Rubin for a new album.
What other artists would you like to do projects on?
There are lots of artists I’d love to write books on but they’re not necessarily ones that would be commercial books. It’s even harder now to get these types of books commissioned as sales are down massively. At present, I’ve got the Metallica and Iron Maiden ones out next year and I’ve just signed a contract for a bio of a major American metal band. I’ve also got a fictional rock memoir written which I’d like to release as a POD book next year.
You can find out more about Neil Daniels’ and his work by visiting his official website HERE.
You can also read the TAPEtoTAPE review of the Judas Priest Rock Landmarks book HERE.
For whatever reason I have never really listened to Judas Priest, I don’t own any albums let alone British Steel and apart from the Therapy? version of ‘Breaking The Law’ I am not sure I could even hum a track. So really this is the perfect book for me, if it does its job then I will be compelled to at least give British Steel a spin sometime.
It certainly appeals to the geek in me, CD sized so as not to be overwhelming and covering everything from the artwork, track by track analysis and plenty of fascinating artwork from the period, this will allow the uninitiated like me to blag our way through any future leather clad encounters.
Considering the trim size and at a svelte 62 pages Neil Daniels still manages to pack a lot of information into the book. Whilst clearly he has an affection for the album (and band); this does not prevent him from giving a balanced and unbiased overview. British Steel was after all a contentious album amongst Priest fans, a classic now but far from welcomed with open arms at the time. This is succinctly covered and paints an intriguing picture of a band negotiating mainstream desires with an ardent following.
Perhaps lacking a little in the way of up to date input from the band is the only minor quibble I would have, but given this is a bite sized appraisal rather than a comprehensive tome you can hardly feel cheated.
So, will I become a born again Priest fan? Well, probably not, but I am going to look out for a copy of British Steel and give it a go, so I guess, job done.
To find out more about Neil Daniels visit his website HERE.
Judas Priest’s sixth studio album has rightly earned its place as one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time. It comfortably – perhaps too comfortably for some fans’ tastes – sits between Priest’s harder-edged heavy metal of the seventies with their far more commercial albums of the eighties. Sure, it is a world away from the likes of ‘Killing Machine’ and it’s not as pop-orientated as, say ‘Defenders Of The Faith’ and certainly not ‘Turbo‘, but it set the benchmark for the kind of metal that was to become popular in the decade of its birth.
From the furious opening track ‘Rapid Fire’ (had the twin-guitar attack of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton sounded better?) to the blistering closing song ‘Steeler‘, ‘British Steel’ is a monster of an album; adrenalin fuelled and endlessly listenable. While not every track is the perfect Priest song, it is a hugely infectious piece of work that represents the Mighty Priest in near perfect style. But despite its impact it is not their best album yet it is undoubtedly their most popular.
Not only has ‘British Steel’ gone on to become a cherished item amongst ardent metal supporters but it inspired a whole generation of metal bands, notably, the American thrash metal bands of the eighties such as Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer and later, Annihilator and Pantera. Even the name ‘British Steel’ conjures up the working class sounds of classic British heavy metal.
‘British Steel’ is quite simply, genre-defining. This fans hand-book, will tell you why. Foreword by Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal.