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Judas Priest - Review of London Astoria gig 15/06/01

By David Calvert

This is my personal opinion of the gig and if you were there and don't agree with it - sorry!

Savatage took the stage at approx. 7.30pm. I knew of the band, but had never heard any of their stuff and they were pretty good. They appeared to go down well with the crowd.

Priest opened the show with 'Metal Gods', which seemed to me to be a curious start. Indeed, the whole set was. Although a large amount of the old favourites such as "Victim of Changes", "The Ripper", "...Another Thing Comin' "Green Manalishi", "Touch of Evil" etc were all there, it was the order that they played them in. There appeared to be a slight lack of continuity throughout the entire show and I think the audience picked up on this. It wasn't until al least a third of the show had passed that the audience started to warm up.

Priest played only two tracks from the new album "Demolition" which went down very well - in particular "One on One" - definitely an classic Priest track in the making. Normally brand new songs played live don't get a huge reception, but in this case the audience loved it. "Machine Man" was also played and this too got a very positive reaction. "Blood Stained" and "Burn in Hell" from the Jugulator album were also given an airing, which, shall we say, received a polite reception.

And so on to individual performances. As usual, Tipton & Downing clearly demonstrated that they are one of the best partnerships in the business. Their standard of musicianship was excellent - despite Downing appearing to have technical problems during the show. He was seen swapping his guitars mid-song a number of times. Ian Hill stood at his favourite spot by the backline throughout the entire show (as if his shoes were nailed to the floor!) pulverising his bass, leaving Tipton & Downing to whip up the crowd. Since Scott Travis joined the band, he has added a new dimension to the Priest sound and was on fine form - tirelessly beating the hell out of his drums as if his life depended on it.

And so to Tim Owens. There is no question that vocally, Owens is a worthy successor to the legend that is Rob Halford. During the show he produced some absolutely stunning vocals - in particular during "Victim of Changes" and the show's closer "Hell Bent For Leather". The only thing I feel that Owens lacks is stage presence. I hate making comparisons, but Halford had stage presence by the bucket load, and I believe this is where Owen's weakness lies. He occasionally appeared to look uncertain as to what movement to do next and what to say to the audience. Basically, there was little or no spontaneity to his "act". When he did say anything, it was pretty uninspiring stuff ("howareyadoin'upstairsalllright?!!!"). But let's be fair here. There are two things to remember: 1. The tour is still in its infancy and no doubt he (and the band) is still "running in" so to speak, and 2: Owens has only been with the band (and in the business) for a relatively short period of time. Consequently, he still has a lot to learn. Halford on the other hand, has been treading the boards for some 30 years or so. By the time the Priest touring machine hits America, things are bound to be better in this department.

Production wise, things were much better than the last tour. On the Jugulator tour, production was stripped bare. It was just Priest, a pile of amps and a very small & basic lighting rig. This time it was more interesting to look at, with platforms on the backline for the band to walk (and throw shapes!) on, and a fairly impressive light show - but no pyro. The sound quality was pretty good, despite Travis' bass drums being lost a bit in the mix.

In conclusion, this was a great Priest gig and myself and the rest of the audience left happy. However, I have seen better from the guys, but as I said previously, once they have got their proverbial sea legs, it will be business as usual...

Rating 7/10

Set List (from what I can remember!):

Time on stage approx. 1hr, 45 mins.

A very good range of stuff including:
A choice of Demolition T.shirts (£15.00) Range of classic Priest Tshirts (around £15.00) Demolition mugs (£6.00) Good quality base-ball caps (£15.00)