"Live Insurrection" review, by Oscar Timons.
Selected stores in Europe managed to get their hands on LI a few days before the official release date so I was able to buy my copy today. In a nutshell, it's a treasure chest of splendid Rob Halford performances and great songs from many eras.
Naturally I did a direct comparison of Running Wild and Genocide with their Unleashed-era predecessors, and I (still) prefer the latter - by about the width of a hair. Obviously Rob's voice has changed over the years. Back then he sang very cleanly, like laser beams; now, his voice is much rougher, inciting some people to refer to his singing as "the Halford screech". But when the spirit moves him ol' Rob can still make us think it's 1978 all over again. Listen to Beyond The Realms Of Death and prepare to be touched. In all honesty, it's absolutely incomprehensible how this man can sing like he does at his age, after so many years of gruelling tours and endless album releases. And while his voice may be more rough, his abilities today are as striking as they were 20-odd years ago. Or even more striking, actually, given that 20-odd years have passed and the dude can still cut it. I don't think any Halford fan will be able to listen to Sad Wings or Hell's Last Survivor without his jaw dropping to the floor in sheer amazement. The Resurrection studio recordings of some of the songs featured on LI didn't quite prepare me for this, Rob's most outrageously exhibitionistic singing till date. Speaking of jaws: what a delight to see a song from the mighty Defenders Of The Faith album!
It's difficult to name definite highlights, because there are so many. If I had to choose a few I'd pick Jawbreaker, Slow Down, Sad Wings, The Hellion/Electric Eye, Genocide, Beyond The Realms Of Death and the goose-bump inducing Rock-in-Rio version of Breaking The Law. It's positively spine-chilling to hear how Rob, on the prowl in his natural habitat, is in complete command of a quarter of a million people. Unnerving! Frightening, actually.
It's slightly easier to name the very few less-inspiring moments and niggles. First and foremost, despite the enormous effort and the obvious attention to the fans' desires and needs, I personally would have preferred a complete recording of one magic night, from start to finish. Because of all the different shows mixed together most of Rob's banter with the crowd has been edited out and I do miss it. As for songs, I could've done without Life In Black but that's a very minor observation.
The record was recorded very well, although the transition from recordings made in tiny clubs (Genocide - was this the Hardenberg show....?) to arenas is quite noticeable. It's light-years ahead, in every aspect imaginable, of JP's '98 Live Meltdown. I'll never play that record again. If you wonder how those really old JP songs should be played in 2001, wonder no more. It's all here, from Bobby's wonderfully articulate and detailed drumming (so fresh compared to Travis' monotonous thunder) to Patrick's absolutely immaculate renditions of some classic lead breaks (Electric Eye, Beyond The Realms of Death) and it's all in standard tuning, as it should be. It shows the respect these guys have for the music, and I've been missing that respect so much on '98 LM.
The three studio tracks are as different as night and day, and I love them all. Prepare to be surprised. The only common factor is the outstanding singing, even though the vocal approach to the three songs differs as well.
Anyway, get out there and get it. It's the best (and in my case only) heavy metal record you could possibly buy this year. Aks me again in a year or two, but I'd say this is an instant classic. I don't see how it couldn't be.