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Priest Live Brisbane, Australia December 14, 2001

By Glen "The Ancient Metaller" Crawford

Ok, let's set the scene here..

I've been a Judas Priest fan for over 25 years, and this is the first time they've ever toured Australia. I'm 53 years young, with short white hair, grey beard, and yes I'm starting to put on a bit around the middle despite every effort to keep it off, so I'm not exactly the sort of person you'd expect to see at a rock gig of any sort, let alone a Judas Priest concert.

Nothing however, is going to keep me away from this gig! I've taken the entire day off work, in part because I've got to have a heart test in the morning, but also so I can get to the venue early and try to meet the band. The test goes well, and I hit the train at about 2.30pm on the Friday afternoon to meet a heavy metal mate in Brisbane.

I ask long-suffering wife Debbie to iron my ancient, faded Painkiller T shirt before I go, and I get.. "You're not wearing that thing on the train, you'll get mugged." So I carefully fold it and put it into my backpack along with a few tour posters I've scored and my digital camera. When I reach the station in Brisbane the first thing I hear from Jay, my buddy, is.. "Hey, where's the Painkiller T?" so I promptly put it on and away we go to the venue along with Luke, another one of his metal mates.

The venue is in a pretty rough part of Brisbane and the sight of a drunk asleep amid a cluster of empty beer bottles on the front steps doesn't impress me much, but there's the sounds of screaming guitars coming from inside, and we sneak around the back for a peek, only to be hustled away pretty quickly by security. There's a couple of other heavy looking dudes hanging around scross the street, and we ask politely if they've seen any sight of the band, but they refuse to give out any information, so we hang around the driveway and wait.. and wait.. and wait.

The other blokes wander away, and we're just about ready to do the same when a Chrysler Voyager backs down the driveway, and it's full of the band! We approach, Luke waving a Rocka Rolla CD cover to ask for autographs, and Ian Hill winds down the window!

OK, I'm rapidly going ballistic here, my heart's racing, and I'm feeling decidedly teenagerish! Jay pushes me forward with a "Hey this bloke's only been waiting 25 years to meet you," and I peer in the window. Ian's right in front of me, Scott's in the front seat, Glenn and Tim share the back seat, and I don't think K K's in the van, but I'm too stoked to notice. I manage to blurt out a 'hello' and "I've been with you guys since 1976, and I love the new album!" then I get shoved aside and the others ask for autographs.

I manage to get my tour posters out and they vanish into the van, to return autoraphed by Glenn, Ian and Tim, and I carefully put them away. The van pulls out of the driveway, and we're on our own again. WOW!

OK, we've got a few hours to kill before the gig, so we head off to Jay's mates places to pick up a few more metalheads. Now I love my metal, but these blokes live the lifestyle to the fullest. I don't think I've ever seen so many old albums, so many bands I've never heard of, so many bootleg tapes and CD's. They've all got hair down to the waist, and a long discussion goes on to decide which T shirt each one will wear, so nobody ends up with the same T shirt on, although I've got the only Judas Priest T shirt in the crowd.

We stop for a feed of KFC on the way back to the gig, scaring the Hell out of the kids behind the counter and the families dining out as we descend on the restaurant in a black T, booted and denim-clad horde, then it's a few bottles of beer to down along the way and to the show. I don't partake of the beer, no way I'm letting my bladder interrupt tonight!

The place is filling up as we get inside, and Heaven, an Aussie metal band i've never heard of is belting out some decent hard rock. The venue is a bit like a club, flat floor leading right up to the stage, and a mezannine level if you want to go upstairs. I head straight for the front, even though I did tell Glenn Tipton not to expect to see me in the mosh pit as I was probably a bit old for that. I find myself a little spot right beside the tower of speakers where I can see straight onto the stage and no one can get in my field of vision. It's also probably the noisiest spot in the building, but hey, I'm dumb.

The support band finishes, the lights go down, and the crowd starts to chant. They get it wrong at first, chanting 'Judas Priest' but I start yelling 'Priest-Priest' along with a few others and it soon catches on. The lights finally come up, and Glenn, KK and Tim step into the lights. The crowd goes ballistic!

OK, you want a set-list right? And I can't bloody remember! I know they started with 'Metal Gods' which made me smile, and the great songs just kept coming. I know every word to every song, and I sing, shout, scream along with the band. I start off standing quietly, just digging the music, but I'm soon raging away to the songs, having a ball. OK, here's some of the songs I'm sure they did...
From SWOD.. Victim of Changes and The Ripper.
From Stained Class.. Beyond the Realms of Death.
From British Steel.. Breaking the Law, Metal Gods, Living After Midnight and Grinder
From Point of Entry..Heading out to the Highway.
From Screaming for Vengeance.. You've got Another Thing Coming.
From Painkiller.. Painkiller, A Touch of Evil.
From Jugulator.. Blood Stained, Burn in Hell.
From Demolition.. One on One, Hell is Home, In Between, Feed on Me.

And of course Tim's acoustic version of Diamonds and Rust. If anyone else can add to this list please feel free to do so, I was too stoked just being there to write anything down!

I rocked, I raged, I jumped up and down, I screamed my lungs out, much to the delight of the (much) younger crowd nearby. The mosh pit was a few feet to my right, the edge of the stage just in front of me over a wide row of speaker boxes about waist high. I was in the middle of something loud and raging when I looked up at the stage...

Glenn Tipton was staring straight at me. He raised his hand, pointed at me, and grinned. I yelled, raised my fist, grinned back. He went back to playing and I went off the planet!

The gig went for what seemed like forever. It must have been two hours of solid, brilliantly performed Judas Priest heavy metal. They left the stage and the audience called them back. Two more songs and they left again, and we called them back. Another two songs and they left again, but we yelled and screamed until we got them back again and they did one more song for us. 'Living after Midnight' was an appropriate finishing number, as midnight it was before I got out of the gig.

My ears were numb, my eyes burning from the smoke, the floor was slippery with spilled beer. A young bloke approached me, staring at my shirt. "How long you had the shirt man?" I told him 11 years and he grinned. "How long you been waiting for this show?" I told him 25 years and he laughed. "Man, you must feel so good." And you know what, I did!

It's been a week now since the show, and my ears have started working again, my sense of euphoria has died down with the return to work, and yet every now an then, when I least expect it, a wild guitar riff screams across my mind or a string of lyrics explode inside my head like a freight train passing by, and I stop, pause, and smile to myself...