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