As summer draws to a close, outdoor concerts become fewer, and fewer. With temperatures still high, Starlight Theater was packed with fans eager to hear some old school metal. With Judas Priest, and Deep Purple sharing the bill, a long night of hard rocking, head banging, and drinking was sure to be had. Also sharing the bill was British Blues outfit, The Temperance Movement. TMM played to a largely empty venue, but with passion, and intensity. Those who arrived late truly missed out. Fans of the genre will enjoy them, as they proved the Blues knows no nationality.
Up next were the Metal Gods themselves, Judas Priest. With a new album out, Priest had no shortage of material (as if they did anyway). Hitting hard with their opening number, Fire Power, Priest proved they were still on top of their game. At 67 years old, Halford looked, and sounded like a man easily half his age. Richie Faulkner, who replaced K.K. Downing some years ago, has really come into his own in the band. Anyone who saw him on the Redeemer of Souls tour knows how he commanded the stage, but he’s managed to up the ante even more. Andy Sneap, filling in for Glenn Tipton, diagnosed with Parkinson’s earlier this year, played Glenn’s part well, but tried to stay out of the spotlight.
With the 90+ degree temperatures going long into the set, and the band drenched with sweat, they weren’t slowed down in the least. Heat, leather, and motorcycles? Totally metal. The band powered through several tracks from the new Firepower album, as well as such classics as You’ve Got another Thing Coming, and Hell Bent for Leather.
At the end of the set, Halford asked the crowd, “We have time for one more. What do you want to hear?” The Kansas City crowed erupted into chants of “Breaking the Law!” The band had their own ideas, moving into Painkiller, before following with a triple encore of Electric Eye, Breaking the Law, and Living After Midnight.
But the night was not over just yet. Soon to follow were Deep Purple. What can be said that hasn’t already been said about these guys? Being on the scene for nearly five decades, and keeping a heavy touring schedule, they truly have earned the right to be called iconic. With a largely original line-up, save for Ritchie Blackmore, the band plowed through their catalog of hits.
Starting off hard and heavy with Machine Head’s Highway Star, the band proved they still have the goods to deliver a rocking show. At 73, Ian Gillan’s voice has weakened since the 70’s, but he and the rest of the band still put tremendous passion into their performance. Seeing icons of any caliber still doing what they do is always a pleasure, so getting to see the guys who laid the groundwork for much of what was to follow in the hard rock vein was truly a joy.
Hearing songs from any of the artists on the radio will get your adrenaline pumping. But standing near a speaker stack, with the bass thumping, and getting assaulted by guitars and vocals at nearly 120 decibels is another experience altogether. When it’s the artists who originated the songs on stage playing, the experience becomes something else. This is why we go to shows, and stay out far too late on a work night. Keep the music alive, brothers and sisters.
Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin