It's one of the hottest Heavy Metal tours of the summer-the legendary, and recently reunited Judas Priest,with their stellar opening act Queensryche. Over the last few weeks the two acts made their way through the NorthEast, and Sea of Tranquility was in attendance- Steve Pettengill was at the 6/8 show at The Verizon Center in Manchester, NH, Jack Toledano and Ken Pierce checked out the 6/17 gig at New York's Jones Beach Amphitheater, and Ken Pierce and Pete Pardo were at the 6/10 event at New Jersey's PNC Bank Arts Center.
Read on for all the details of each show!
The Verizon Center, Manchester, NH 6/8/2005. By Steve Pettengill
On June 8th, 2005, Judas Priest turned the clock back twenty years and gave the audience two hours worth of classic heavy metal at The Verizon Center in Manchester, NH. The guys look about the same as I remember them from all those years ago and considering the band are well into their 50s, they played with the youth and vigor of a group half their age.
It all began dramatically enough with an intro tape of "The Hellion" as orange spotlights searched above the stage and from behind the audience as Rob Halford appeared from behind a curtain high above the three tier scaffolding. Launching immediately into "Electric Eye", K.K Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and Scott Travis never let up the energy and it was quite apparent that the band were having the time of their lives. Throughout the concert, Halford whooshed up and down hydraulic lifts, changed wardrobe several times and most importantly nailed those high notes every time. It was impossible not to get shivers during "Victim of Changes", "Painkiller" and "Beyond the Realms of Death". But Judas Priest also dipped quite extensively into Angel of Retribution with each song sounding much more powerful on stage than on the CD. "Judas is Rising", "Hellrider" and "Deal With the Devil" worked surprisingly well next to age old classics such as "Breaking the Law", "Diamonds and Rust" and "Exciter".
Tipton and Downing climbed onto the scaffolding several times to incite the already enthusiastic audience. Scott Travis' thunderous double bass drums perhaps dominated the mix a little too often and drowned out some of the vocals, but he's certainly more involving than the band's 1980s era drummer Dave Holland. However, the visual focus was clearly on Rob Halford; the guy simply has an amazing charismatic stage presence. From his grand entrance to his final bow, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand.
Queensryche played an hour long set that was mainly devoid of anything the band have issued since Empire. Sure, a couple of songs from Tribe were performed but classic cuts from Rage for Order and The Warning dominated the setlist, with only one song each from Operation: Mindcrime and Empire. The audience got a preview from the band's upcoming Operation: Mindcrime II in "I'm American". It all ended with the rousing Take Hold of the Flame and judging from the crowd reaction, there were a lot of Queensryche fans that night! Geoff Tate sounded amazing and the whole band cooked. They weren't simply a "warm up" band for the main attraction, they could have played for another half hour and nobody would have complained.
All told, the Priest/Queensryche concert was a great time out. The band might be older, the audience might be older, but the concert brought out the youth in all who were in attendance. Speaking of attendance, The Verizon sadly never appeared to be more than 2/3 full. Reports also indicated that the stage was actually moved closer to the middle of the arena to block out all the empty seats. As the venue normally holds about 10,000 patrons, my guess is that maybe 3,000 fans actually showed up. Perhaps the timing was bad because so many New Englanders opted for the nearly sold out Boston performance, which went on sale weeks before the Manchester show. So make sure you go and support this amazing tour while the Metal Gods are still out and about. Just don't forget your earplugs; this was one of the LOUDEST concerts I've seen in years.
PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ 6/10/2005, by Ken Pierce
As much as I enjoyed the teaser set at last year's Ozzfest, there was little that could bring down my level of excitement when I found out that Judas Priest would be touring the States again as a reunited band with Rob Halford leading the charge. As an added treat they had decided on Queensyche as their opener for this tour. It was a smart choice as Queensryche is always good live, however I felt Priest would have been better served by some promising up and coming Metal band. As one can expect Queensryche is continually good in live performance. Geoff Tate walks the stage with such a regal presence, he always has. Guitarist Mike Stone was sporting a greased up mohawk this time making him appear to fit in more with a Blink or Charlotte band more than The 'Ryche and he really rips of the guitar. Scott Rockenfield is using two bass drums once again which I am pleased to report and he is also showcasing his "RockenWraps" product. Every drum on his kit had them and its an interesting concept in customization to say the least. Eddie Jackson and Michael Wilton continue to impress me to this very day. Seasoned professionals all around. While it is a shame that Chris DeGarmo never returned for any of these killer shows (the live "Mindcrime" presentation last year and now the Priest tour), it seems as though the audience is no longer affected by it. Tate has also commented recently that the door is closed on that return at this point.
On this tour Queensryche returned to a good amount of very old material in the most case. A number of songs had not been played in some time were brought back out to the audiences resounding approval. His banter with the crowd was very basic, and calm mainly thanking everyone for the support and if they were ready to rock. The most noted comment was to our overseas military who he hopes comes home safe and soon. Highlight for me in the set were clearly "Walk In The Shadows" (one of the favorites for a long time) and "Take Hold Of The Flame" (one of the most powerful closers ever). While Geoff does not sound exactly the same as 20 years ago (and how can he), he still holds one of the most pure voices in Progressive Metal to this very day.
When the lights went down for Priest, the air was charged from the front row to the very last person on the lawn area. Dramatically set, the stage was powerful in its design and out they came. KK, Glen, Ian and Scott to the beginning intro tape of "Hellion". As "Electric Eye" began we startled by the sudden appearance of the man everyone was excited to see. Rob Halford, "The Metal God" appeared from behind the drums as the vocals began and he pretty much stayed in this space for a large part of the song. That annoyed me a little as a photographer who was shooting with limited time. Yet I digress. As the next songs progressed Halford came down towards the front of the stage a little more and walked back and forth between K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton who did not stop their swaying to the music once during the entire night it seemed. It was fun to see audience members swaying as well.
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, taken by Ken Pierce
Halford's voice was as amazing as I had expected. I noted earlier about how impressed I was with Tate's but Rob's voice really shoots off the richter scale of vocalists in the Metal Arena. You can see with him why he is revered to this very day and what made Priest such a special band in Heavy Metal history. They are truly Lords Of The Genre and it was intense to find myself in a sold out venue where everyone seemed to know the words to all the songs. I really think the added part of Priest's appeal and overall power is the continued drumming of Scott Travis. This Racer X powerhouse is one of the best Metal drummers I have heard and he is pulling off the Les Binks stuff with ease. The audience itself was interesting as well, for in my life I had never seen as many air-guitars and air-drums going on in one place. Yes, I was doing it as well. Heh heh. I guess if one can find some off-parts of the show I would have to say the guitar-solo thing that Glenn Tipton does was dreadful and I could not wait for it to end. He is such a great player, but this screaming high chord display is merely done to get the audience to yell. There was enough of that without the prompting, and it seemed off key in this outdoor venue. I also feel that Rob's stage banter leaves something to be desired. Granted he is the Metal God, but the "oh yeah oh yeah" for five minutes before the closing number is just unnecessary. They could have used the time for one more tune. His "Breaking The Law" intro is just well, the same and one would think that this Master could have changed it up a bit after all this time. Halford did seem genuine with the crowd telling them how happy he was that the new CD and Reunion had been well-received, periodically shaking peoples hands in the front rows.
There were not a lot of effects going on for the show just some platforms that raised Halford up and down and smoke and a great lighting rig. There were "faux" flames for one number but that was about it. As far as the set list was concerned, Priest made sure to pull out a lot of surprises. There was a sufficient amount of classic material and also a few numbers from their latest release Angel Of Retribution. I had researched online at earlier set lists and I was sad to see a couple of the numbers left off. Most specifically would be "Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)" and "Hot Rockin'". Some of the people around me were griping about either the inclusion of "Turbo" or one too many of the new tracks. I agree that we could have done without "Turbo Lover", but I did feel "Revolution" sounded better live than on the new CD. Time wise I felt the set ran about 1.75 hours which is nice, a good 20 tuns were played and everything is listed below. Despite my minor qualms, this was still a kick ass show and I say that every Metal head should really get to one of these performances. The Priest has come back to kick our ass and they still do it very well. A Live DVD from earlier in this tour was filmed and is set for a Summer end release.
Queensryche Set List (not in order)
- Take Hold Of The Flame
- Walk In The Shadows
- Surgical Strike
- Desert Dance
- The Needle Lies
- Screaming In Digital
- Queen Of The Reich/Nightrider (medley)
Judas Priest Set List
- Electric Eye
- Metal Gods
- Riding On The Wind
- A Touch Of Evil
- Judas Rising
- Breaking The Law
- I'm A Rocker
- Diamonds And Rust - acoustic
- Deal With The Devil
- Beyond The Realms Of Death
- Turbo Lover
- Victim Of Changes
- Hell Bent For Leather
- Living After Midnight
- You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Pete Pardo's comments on the PNC show
Seeing as every single show I have seen at the PNC Bank Arts Center it has rained, I was happy to finally attend a gig there where it was fairly dry (it did rain about 2 hours before the performance). My younger brother Rich and I (he also a longtime fan of these two classic metal acts) settled into our excellent seats just in time for Queensryche to hit the stage, and they sure delivered a solid hour of stellar metal. The band really had the crowd into the set, as they played mostly older songs from their career interpersed with a few numbers from their last album Tribe. The highlight of course was the final tune "Take Hold of the Flame", one of the bands all-time best anthems. While Queensryche can claim that they surely shouldn't open for anyone, this event was more like two old pros hanging together and making some history. A great set indeed!
Judas Priest took to the stage like the triumphant legends they are. All 10,000 plus in the Arts Center were on their feet and roaring (this was one of the loudest audiences I have heard in ages) with fists raised in the air. Halford & Co. didn't disappoint, delivering nearly 2 hours of vintage Priest material and a few tunes from their latest album, which came off better live than on the album. While I could have done without Glenn Tipton's lame guitar solo thing (if you can call it that-the guys a great player, let it shred dude!), and Halford at times, especially during the first half of the show, seemed fairly immobile and stood staring at the floor, this was a kick ass show. Highlights for me were an amazing "Beyond the Realms of Death" and "Victim of Changes", as well as the surprising acoustic rendition of "Diamonds and Rust". They may be old geezers, but they sure can kick some serious ass. A great night all around!
Jones Beach Amphitheater, Wantagh, NY 6/17/2005, by Jack Toledano
As one of the early arrivals along with my son to the Tommy Hilfiger Jones Beach Amphitheater in Wantagh, NY, for the Judas Priest/Queensryche concert, I immediately began to wonder a couple of things. First of all, it was noticeably empty, although we sat down at about 7:10 for a show that was going to start at 8. I was wondering whether Judas Priest and Queensryche would be able to fill the venue and recapture some of the old heavy metal glory of the mid 80's. The 2nd thing, and this I found very baffling, was what am I going to write about Queensryche, as I am not very familiar with them, other than the Greatest Hits CD of theirs that I bought a few years ago in anticipation of the Iron Maiden/Halford/Queensryche show at Madison Square Garden, NYC, a few years back.
Well, after Queensryche left the stage after their hour long set, I had a much better idea. For one thing, a few days ago, I played a few songs from their Greatest Hits CD for my son Jason, so he would be at least a little familiar with them when they took the stage. His first reaction was that he did not really care for Queensryche, as he thought they were a bit boring, as they weren't as heavy, nor did they give him a good first impression as had groups like Judas Priest, Kiss, and AC/DC. But during Queensryche's set, Jason looked at me with a thumbs up a few times and with a smile on his face. After the show he said he really liked Queensryche. It was at that point that I realized that for some bands, just listening to their record does not really do them justice. Queensryche to me is one such band. While on record, they are a prog metal band that is sometimes heavy, sometimes light, (perhaps too light for my taste) they played with a lot of power and emphasis. Being the opening act has its disadvantages, as it was still daylight when Queensryche took the stage, thus their not being able to effectively use the lighting, nor could you see them on the 2 giant video screens for the first two thirds of their set.
But they played extremely well. Guitarists Michael Wilton and Mike Stone worked very well together (I guess this was the night of the twin axe attack) switching off lead and rhythm. Bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield sounded very good as well. Geoff Tate did a superb job once again, as he is still able to hit the high notes. For an opening band, I thought Queensryche's sound was excellent. Really surprising was the fact that Queensryche played a 14 song set (set list is below), which I find is not very common for an opening band. Getting back to Geoff Tate, being a Long Islander (me), I was very appreciative of Geoff's very positive comments about the Jones Beach venue, the stage, and the surrounding area. Thanks Geoff! At the same time, I was worried about whether Rob Halford would be able to still hit the high notes, as Geoff did. Queenryche gets 4 out of 5 stars for their performance.
As for Judas Priest, it didn't take very long for the Metal God to show me that he still can indeed hit the high note, as Rob Halford did several times throughout the 1st two thirds of the concert. What can I say except that Judas Priest really exceeded my expectations. Having now seen the Priest 7 times, I can truly say that this was one of the very best performances that it was my pleasure to witness. Seeing Judas Priest perform this year was a real treat for me for several reasons; 1) After the final notes of "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" in 1991, I thought I saw the last of Judas Priest with Rob Halford, 2) I absolutely love the Jones Beach Theatre and its ambiance, and seeing one of my all time favorite bands play there is an experience of a lifetime, 3) this made for a Father and Son memory of a lifetime for me, as my son enjoyed the show as much as I did.
In the past, I did some complaining about Judas Priest using the same setlist year in and year out. While Priest did play some of their concert staples, I was very pleased with their song selection this time around, as they brought back "Exciter" and "Riding On The Wind", and played a very good sampling of their new CD Angel Of Retribution. As for their stage show, it was as good as I have ever seen it. There was the "Electric Eye", complete with what looked like a red laser in the pupil, right before the opening notes of "The Hellion". There was Rob Halford being lifted in front of the "Angel Of Retribution" during "Judas Rising", complete with a simulated flame. There were all the fancy leather and shiny jackets that Halford seemed to change after every song. There was the lighting, which reflected perfectly off of the ramped stage. As always, there was the Harley that Halford road onstage for the encore.
Performance wise, I thought Halford was in as good a form as he was in Priest's heyday in the mid 80's. By comparison, I thought he was a bit stiff during the Madison Square Garden show from a few years ago that I mentioned earlier in the article, while I thought Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden was fabulous. This time, Halford was as energetic and excited as I have ever seen. You could tell how happy he was to be able to play in a big venue in the US once again. Glenn Tipton and KK Downing were flawless as always with their twin axe attacks all evening. Ian Hill is Ian Hill, standing in the same spot for the entire concert. What can you do? His bass did sound better, however, than in other performances of the past. As for drummer Scott Travis, I have always said that he is the best drummer Judas Priest ever had, and lord knows, they have gone through quite a few.
In speaking to few people the next evening when I attended the Strange Days festival while proudly wearing my new Judas Priest concert T shirt, I could tell there was a very good buzz surrounding Priest's performance. Quite a few people came up to me and asked, "Wow, you went to the Priest show? Weren't they great?". While speaking to a member of the Jones Beach Theater management team, I could tell they were very happy with the show Judas Priest put on in their venue. While the show was not sold out, it did sell quite well, with only a few scattered empty seats in the nosebleed sections in a 14,000 seat venue. It sold better than the Strange Days festival the night after, which shows me that heavy metal is alive indeed. Judas Priest gets 5 out of 5 stars for their spectacular Jones Beach performance. Welcome back, guys.
- The Whisper
- En Force
- Neue Regel
- Screaming In Digital
- Desert Dance
- Queen of the Reich/Nightrider/Blinded
- Walk in the Shadow
- The Needle Lies
- I'm American
- Surgical Strike
- Take Hold of the Flame
Judas Priest setlist
- The Hellion/Electric Eye
- Metal Gods
- Riding on the Wind
- A Touch of Evil
- Judas Rising
- Breaking the Law
- I'm a Rocker
- Diamonds & Rust
- Deal with the Devil
- Beyond the Realms of Death
- Turbo Lover
- Victim of Changes
- Hell Bent for Leather (encore)
- Living After Midnight (encore)
- You've Got Another Thing Comin' (encore)
Ken Pierce's Notes On The Jones Beach Theater Show
I also attended the Jones Beach performance of this tour since everyone I knew was going to this one. How can you pass up on that chance to relive the youthful concert adventuring with large groups of your buddies? I have to say that this was pretty much the same exact show for both bands with songs and even crowd banter being the same. The same high points and the same low points in each set as referenced above. The only difference is them mentioning the different venue they played in. I will admit that PNC has a more contained sound if you are under the structure and not the lawn, while Jones Beach being very open the sound sometimes just shoots passed you. Either way, a great time for everyone who attended. A killer tour book is on sale at the shows and it is a must buy. As I also said, get to one of these shows and show the support for the Masters. You will not regret it. "Judas Is Rising" – Indeed.