Sunday, October 30, 2011

Victim Of Changes

Judas Priest
Sleep Train Pavilion, Concord, CA

October 27, 2011

When it was announced earlier this year that K.K. Downing had left Judas Priest on the eve of their "Farewell" Tour I decided there was no way I wanted to see them again. K.K. and Glenn Tipton have been the most enduring axe duo in Metal; for me and most of you reading this we've never known a time when that guitar team was not blazing the planet. Now that team is no more. I decided there was no fucking way I was going to this show.

Then days before the show I was put on a guest list via work... What's a good Priest song to symbolize me being a hypocrite?

Unbelievably horrible traffic out to Concord as usual but zero drama at Will Call = A trade off. Calling a band Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott is a complete abomination and I want no part of it; but we arrived late and completely missed their set anyway. I can't stand Black Label Society; evidently Zakk Wylde wore an Indian head dress onstage this time. I thought he was from New Jersey?? I'm so glad he's not "part" Chinese so he doesn't wear a coolie hat onstage. Thankfully my mates and I spent most of their set eating some dubious venue food and having a beer. Then I had some work related responsibilities to take care of so I ducked backstage, but it was all good. Just another day at the office...
I reemerged into the Real World from the magical world of Backstage mere minutes before Priest were due to take the stage. After being directed around a couple of times by ushers we found ourselves in 4th row seats, dead center. To be honest, the seats made up for K.K. not being in the building; this was my 7th time seeing Priest and I've never been that close to the stage. Sorry K.K... but I can be fickle and shallow like that. "I'm made of Metal.. My circuits gleam.."

The focus on this "Farewell" Tour is that Priest are playing at least one song off of every studio album. A VERY cool idea... if only they'd done this when K.K. was in the band! Anyway we were only in our seats for a couple of minutes, beers in hand, before the houselights went down... the intro tape started... the curtain covering the stage fell... and Priest were right in front of us as 'Rapid Fire' announced the start of the set. It was fucking awesome... until I glanced to the left side of the stage and saw Fake K.K... Buzz kill.. However, I quickly got into the mindset that I was going to have a good time instead of obsessing on K.K.'s absence... and thankfully Priest made it easy by going from 'Rapid Fire' into 'Metal Gods' into 'Heading Out To The Highway'. I sipped on my beer and sang along like the aging Metalhead that I am... and it was good.

Photo by Umlaut iPhone

The high point of the 21-song set for Umlaut was the one-two nostalgic punch of 'Starbreaker' (HOLY SHIT.. They played 'Starbreaker'!) that went into 'Victim Of Changes'. The latter is probably my favorite Priest song and watching the middle solo without K.K. playing it felt wrong even with lasers lighting up the stage... but I still sang along to it. For whatever reason, Slayer and Judas Priest are the only bands that cause me to sing along when I see them live. I have no idea why. Discuss amongst yourselves. However, watching dozens of dudes singing along with Halford to 'Turbo Lover' made me think of a 70's San Francisco bath house... not that there's anything wrong with that.

Because I like to nitpick, I was bummed that the Rocka Rolla track performed was 'Never Satisfied' which Halford had performed on his solo tour last year. However, I tried to stay focused on having fun instead of being a jaded old fart... and the return of 'Beyond The Realms Of Death' to the setlist had me singing along again.. "He'd found a place in his mind and slammed the door..." still gets me every time after all these years, man.

Although I hate to admit it, this was the most F-U-N show of the year! Probably due to the beers, but I made the mental leap and simply got caught up in the songs and tried to ignore Fake K.K. onstage as much as possible. Granted, Fake K.K. did a good job... but it just wasn't the same... but I had F-U-N despite myself. I genuinely felt like I was that 16-year old Judas Priest fan again. "Breaking the what?!"

Photo by Sensory Abuse iPhone

Although I should have, I didn't do a merch audit, but Priest did have the best merch IMO. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Going into the show I ignored any spoiler posts online about the setlist... but I ran into Gary Holt in the concourse before the show and he blew it for me when he rattled off some of the songs Priest were going to play (Exodus had just supported Priest in Poland in August..). Thanks, Gary.

Click HERE to see Photo Ray's shots from the night!