Editor's note: Bring Back Glam! reader and personal friend Christian made a trek to the Taste of Minnesota a couple days ago. I asked him to share his photos and thoughts on Judas Priest and Whitesnake live. The review below is all his. Enjoy!
The main reason I bought tickets to Rocklahoma 09, is in response to strong rumors of Judas Priest/Whitesnake being there. This turned out not to be true, so I decided instead to catch them elsewhere. I flew from Hobart to Melbourne, Melbourne to LA, then LA -> Denver -> Minnesota on July 02 (losing my bags in the process), to be at the Taste of Minnesota on July 3rd. The people who run the Taste were awesome to me. I wrote to ask them when tickets would go on sale, and they helped to make sure I got good seats. In fact, I was seated front and center, although people from the whole gold section came and stood in front of the seats. I got there early enough to be at the barrier for the whole show. The Taste guys popped by to say ‘hi’, but only briefly. The Taste itself was also pretty cool -- I had some good food and entertainment during the day while I waited for the show.
One great thing about Metal shows is the people you meet. I had bought two tickets, but the friend I wanted to take couldn’t come, so I met a guy named Dave while waiting for the Priest merchandise to be set up, and because he seemed cool, and was alone, I gave him my other ticket. He came too late to make the barrier, but he was just behind me for the whole show. I met a ton of other cool people, although one of them, the other guy next to me, did end up grabbing the drum stick that Scott Travis threw directly to me after the show ended.
Whitesnake right now is Reb Beach, Doug Aldrich, and some guys I’ve never heard of. They were all good players, the show was tight, the extended guitar duel was actually not boring and David Coverdale was in fine voice. I’d heard recently he’s been accused of using tapes -- I saw no evidence of that. I did hear people setting up saying they needed to test ‘vocal effects,’ but I don’t think that was anything that would detract from giving him credit for sounding amazing. He went for plenty of screams, and he nailed them all.
The mix of guitar players in Whitesnake is interesting, Reb does a lot of legato tapping ( that is, long flowing melodic lines ) and Doug is a more traditional player. I have to say, Doug also more looks the part, overall I think he’s the better player, but they both sounded good. The set list included all the songs you’d expect: “Crying in the Rain,” “Is this Love,” “Give Me All Your Love Tonight,” “Slow an’ Easy,” “Here I Go Again,” “Still of the Night,” etc. I’d love to hear “’Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,” live, but given that it’s a cover, and it predates his U.S. success, I was not surprised. They did two songs off the new CD, the second had Doug playing a Les Paul with a metallic front. David mentioned during the show that their record company went bankrupt, it’s a sad indictment of our times that a label can go broke signing Whitesnake. The show was a little brief, but they sure gave their all and did a great job. Whitesnake was one of the bands left on my list of bands to see before I die and they did not disappoint.
I managed to catch one of Reb’s picks, which was a real highlight for me. Having said that, my main goal was the Priest. This was my second Judas Priest show and I was very excited to hear all of British Steel, probably THE CD that got me in to metal in the early 80s. The show started with a curtain up that had scenes of Birmingham on it. Their intro song was “War Pigs,” which went over a lot better than “My Generation” for Whitesnake. They cut it short and went in to “Rapid Fire.” From the start, Rob (Halford) sounded great and was obviously having a great time, as were the rest of the band. I can’t work out if Ian (Hill) had his costume on backwards, if he lost a bet, or what, but his outfit didn’t look great. The others all looked and sounded great: I sure hope I have that much energy when I am pushing 60! There was plenty of on-stage banter from Rob as we moved through this classic album.
The highlights for me were what I expected them to be: “Grinder” and “The Rage” (two of my favorite Priest songs). I was reminded of just what a strong album this is, even the one song I never used to like much (“Steeler”) sounded incredible. At the end, Rob said “That was British Steel,” and you could see how proud he was to say it. They next played “The Ripper,” which is not my favorite Priest track, it was also during this track that I noticed the one time there’s a falsetto vocal on the CD that Rob skipped over. He nailed everything he sang, however.Of the remaining songs, the highlights for me were definitely “Victim of Changes” (I prefer “Beyond the Realms of Death,” but this is still an epic song), “Freewheel Burning” (which Rob sang on the back of a Harley, complete with the red laser lights that appeared in the video, they used them a lot in the back end of the show), and “Diamonds and Rust.” They have done this song acoustic for a little while now,starting when Ripper Owens was in the band and I’ve always thought that a little pointless. Joan Baez did it that way, why not do it the way it was recorded? So, I threw my fist in the air and yelled when they started it out and it was obviously being played the classic ‘Priest’ way. I will say, Rob sat hunched on the bike for all of “Freewheel Burning,” I got the impression that maybe having to sing that fast didn’t leave him with anything to be moving around at the same time. Along the way, they did “Prophecy” off Nostradamus. I wondered how this would go, although I knew the new songs went over well in the show I saw in San Francisco last year. A lot of people have not really ‘got’ this amazing double album and in a set of classic tunes, I was worried it would sit flat. Instead, it got at least as big a cheer and as many people singing along as any other song of the night, proof that Priest are still making relevant music.The ending song was, obviously, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin.’” A lot of people would like them to drop this, and while I’d swap it for at least 30 other tunes, I still think it’s OK. Rob whips the crowd up with a sing along and they get a chant going at the end; it’s a good closer for them. The show didn’t feel as short as I expected when I saw the set list online as I was still sweaty, hoarse, and ready to call it a night.Both bands put on a great show, and I’d recommend this set to anyone who likes either band.
The merchandise was also cool, lots of Ts with the razor blade design, also one of Screaming for Vengeance (which doesn’t fit, but it looks cool), and also left over ‘Four Horsemen’ Ts from the last tour. They also had razor blade necklaces, as well as Priest caps, wrist bands, etc. Whitesnake had shirts, a program, a mug, a key ring, and a tracksuit top (not a hoodie, funny enough). I spent $220 on merchandise.