Mary A. Beegle
November 21, 2011
Epitaph: Rest in Priest
Johnstown, PA – 11.19.2011
Massive chains adorned steaming smokestacks. Colossal pyro singed the first four rows. Smoke cannons belched to the rafters. A thousand lasers dazzled our brains. And none of it was necessary once the first note of unbelievable volume reached our ears.
If they’ve lost a bit of agility, the initial number proved Judas Priest has lost no talent, skill, or edge in four decades. Rob Halford’s vocals rang crystal clear and strong; high notes carried to the furthest reach of the stadium seemingly without amplification. His ability to sustain would shame a distance runner’s wind. Glenn Tipton’s quiet confidence carried his skilled lead notes in waves over the floor. The refined candor in that smile we so easily recognize engaged every fan near the front.
While Ian Hill held post at the rear, his bass came through powerfully, as did percussion from Scott Travis. Richie Faulkner, new to the line-up this year, supplied athletic antics, riffs, and a huge grin. Obviously having the time of his life, he gave us the time of ours.
The chronology led us through 40 years of heavy metal, from its birth to present with JP there every step of the way. Sure, the most hard-core Priest fans know every song from every collection from every decade, but this history of album covers on the big screen and insightful commentary between songs brought all of us into the creative mindset.
Despite several bogus set lists circling the World Wide Web, the night included all the crowd-pleasers:
· A tongue-in-cheek, “Turbo Lover.”
· “Hell Bent for Leather” replete with obligatory chrome.
· Full fan lead vocals in “Breakin’ the Law” (but that’s okay because everyone from veterans to Biebers knew the lyrics).
· Raucous crowd response in “You Got Another Thing Comin’.”
· High energy “Livin’ After Midnight” as a closer.
Halford bestowed upon “Diamonds and Rust” a haunting ballad lead-in, and equally haunting credit to writer, Joan Baez.
But the stand-out number of the night could only be “Nostradamus.” From sound quality to cadence to glam reaper costuming, they nailed it, hands down.
Epitaph is defined as a phrase written in memory of someone passed. It’s a misnomer in this case – Judas Priest will never be past-tense.