October 19th, 2011

Loopster Live: Judas Priest at The Woodlands Pavilion

Devil horns, air guitars, drumstick theatrics, metal-studded leather, lasers and pyrotechnics – trying to capture the fervor of Judas Priest’s performance at The Woodlands Pavilion threatens to be a cliché-ridden, mindless piece, until one recognizes that 40+ years of recording and performing means that JP helped establish the rituals of metal-dom. Billed as their last “major world tour,” Epitaph promises at least one track from every album in a 2:20 set. Priest faithful apparently understood the message that while their beloved icons will tour again, the realities of age and the economics of touring meant that this tour represents the last rites of spectacles.


Second perhaps only to Ozzy in establishing himself as a personal icon above and beyond his metal-bandmates, Rob Halford stalked the stage with the deliberate pacing of large cat plotting its escape from enclosure. At 60, Halford’s voice still provides the projection and range that has provided a counter to the dueling guitar leads. With a 20-song list, Halford stayed fresh with a wardrobe change between many songs or taking a moment to discuss the band’s history, his embracing of all incarnations of metal, and the band’s affinity for Texas.


A quick glance through fan forums reveals some disappointment that K.K. Downing quit the band just before the tour was announced; however, judging from the reception given Richie Faulkner (and his confidence in JP’s signature trading of lead licks with Glenn Tipton) Downing’s absence was not an issue in concert. Drummer Scott Travis handled his duties with ease and near-constant flourishes including many stick twirls and tosses, as if to ensure that no concert expectation be overlooked.


The crowd was an odd mix of suburban dads, many with kids in tow, graying devotees, and bros out for a night reliving their Beavis and Butthead glory days; but, despite a smattering of vocal, female fans, it was decidedly a sausage-fest. And while Black Label Society dominated in the merchandising war based on fan attire, the vocal support was there for JP with no prompting necessary, a fact noted by Halford. Unfortunately, the singing duties were completely handed off for “Breaking The Law”. Halford explained the move (standard at every stop based on online reports) as the band’s way of thanking the crowd for their continued support over the years. To me it smelled as an easy out of having to sing what has undoubtedly become a tedious set requirement as one of the band’s better known hits. In the words of Butthead, “I like Priest and everything, but this sucks!”


In fact much of the concert had an odd sense of mutual admiration, as Tipton alternated demanding more participation (adulation?) and conveying his own appreciation and thanks for the crowd’s obvious support.


Production: Drum riser was flanked by two cylinders kitted to resemble cola cans in a nod to Rocka Rolla but staying this side of an injunction from Atlanta-based lawyers. They hid JP’s iconic crosses that were revealed midway through the set and lifted even further later to reveal mirror balls. Seriously. Lasers, flames, pyrotechnics, and blasts of CO2 – JP kept true to old school while album art was projected onto a large back screen .


Ø Rapid Fire
Ø Metal Gods (flames)
Ø Heading For The Highway
Ø Judas Rising
Ø Starbreaker
Ø Victim (CO2)
Ø Never Satisfied
Ø Diamonds and Rust
Ø Prophecy (pyro & flames)
Ø Nightcrawler
Ø Turbolover (flames)
Ø Beyond The Realms
Ø Sentinel
Ø Blood Red Skies (flames)
Ø Green Manalishi
Ø Breaking The Law (flames)
Ø Painkiller (flames)
Ø Hellion/Electric Eye
Ø Hellbent (CO2)
Ø Another Thing (flames & CO2)

— Alexander


No comments yet.

Add Your Comment