Halford - Live at Akademik Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria

by Kroum Vassilev

Halford had a long stay here in Sofia - he came on June 30 and stayed four days - he said he wants to get to know the city and the people. About a thousand people waited for him the whole day at the airport and Rob was really shocked by the warm metal welcome he got here! He had the usual press conference and took part in Slavi's Show - a very popular talk-show here in Bulgaria with an audience of a few million people each night (afterwards all people I talked to were left with a wonderful impression of the Metal God). So, Rob was just fantastic and everyone liked him a lot! He came into the studio fully dressed in his new Crucible leather outfit, under the laud applause of the audience in the hall. All the time he talked very, very smart. The most memorable part of the show was the band performing Breaking the Law! It's not often that Rob goes performing live on TV and I suggest that he wanted to thank all his fans for the warm welcome he received here. May be it is the first time he's been singing on a live talk-show.

On July 3, the day of the concert, since early morning one could see headbangers from all over the country and Greece (this year their Rockwave festival was cancelled, so they came up to Bulgaria for the 2002 Arena Music). A really wonderful metallic atmosphere!

At about 21:00 EET the 8,000 gathered fans went crazy - the Metal God came on-stage and with just a few waves made the stadium feel (and sound) like a screaming hell! Without wasting any time, the Metal God started with his famous "Oh yeah! Oo oo oh yeah!" and then the unmistakable classic drum solo of Painkiller send the stadium absolutely mad!

Here's the complete set of songs the band performed in Sofia:

  1. Painkiller
  2. Jawbreaker
  3. Resurrection
  4. Made In Hell
  5. Into the Pit
  6. Nailed to the Gun
  7. Exciter
  8. Sinner
  9. Crucible
  10. Betrayal
  11. Golgotha
  12. The Hellion / Electric Eye
  13. Cyberworld
  14. You've Got Another Thing Comin'

Encore 15. Breaking the Law

There were almost no gaps between the songs, rarely did the band take breaks. Rob's voice was absolutely amazing all the time - after the show I asked myself how could he sing in such a way for an hour and ten minutes! The Metal God sang Painkiller as if he was currently in the studio recording the song - it just blew away the whole audience! The same refers to absolutely all songs! I'm not sure if Rob's voice has sounded better ever before - he simply kicks ass! Into the Pit sounded extremely well - the guitar attack was so immense and it seemed like Rob's voice is going to blast-off the stadium! And it was really fantastic to hear him sing old Priest classics such as Exciter and Sinner - I think the band wasn't doing them on the Resurrection Tour, while they should have done so - the performance was incredible!

The new songs from the Crucible album were performed amazingly well, too - the title song sounds even better live and it seems like "Betrayal" is on it's way to become yet another metal anthem by Rob - the whole stadium was singing "Betrayal - You are what you choose..." - it really is a beautyful live song, while "Golgotha" is a musical masterpiece with amazing rhythm diversity. I was actually quite amazed by the fact that everyone knew the songs from the Crucible album by heart - and the album hit the stores just a week before the show, so I'd give the credit to the incredible impact of the Internet and the local rock stations.

Overall, this was one of the best shows I've ever seen - the whole band is so very energetic and enthusiastic and Rob's singing is simply divine! The local press even called Halford "headliners of a heavy metal revival". And, if such a revival is really on the horizon (let's hope!) I'm sure Halford will once again be it's leader. God bless you, Rob! Long live the Metal God!