Live Review: Judas Priest + Black Label Society @ Rogers Arena, Vancouver – October 30th 2011

As I walked through those glass doors at Rogers Arena on Sunday night, I was greeted by the familiar smell of draft beer and consumer chaos. The eager troops, marched along the corridor, some stopping for food, and others for band specific merchandise. It was the usual pre-show mob mentality.

I worked my way down to the floor area and found my seat. One thing that irked me right off the bat, was having to sit at a metal show. I mean it is just ridiculous, to listen to great metal and be stuck sitting. To me this was trying to add order to something that is meant to be chaotic. It was a little depressing. None the less I was excited. In a matter of moments I would see Black Label Society and then the masters of metal, Judas Priest.

To the front right of the stage they had a female DJ, spinning old school metal. It was pretty sweet to hear some classics echoing through that stadium. The DJ herself, was quite cute too, she would rhythmic bang her head to the tunes. Her dedication was inspiring, especially when most people could barely bother to acknowledge here effort.

The lights dropped without warning, causing a sea of screams rang from the crowd. A giant black curtain covered the front of the stage. Slowly a light illuminated the cloth and the glowing logo for Black Label Society shone across the stadium. On the other side of the divider the band began to delve into some tasty guitar, suddenly the curtain fell, and it was time to rock. At first I found myself awe-struck by the intensity of the sound. Every beat rumbled through my body with fierceness. Then Zakk Wylde emitted the first vocals and it immediately released me from the hypnotic control of the rampant rhythm.

Zakk and crew were having a great time, with a pinch of aggression. I soon realized that the guitar god himself was standing before us with a feathered head dress. As he pounded his skull to his bands rhythm the feathers were whipping back and forth. It was a sight to see. John DeServio, on bass, was a man possessed, he worked the stage like a predator, taking time to pose for the eager media below. Nick Catanese, on guitar, was more of a laid back character, making crazed faces at the audience well he ravaged his axe. Not to mention Chad Szeliga, on drums, who worked his kit with a bit of demonic rage. All that could be seen was his flailing limbs and bobbing head. Black Label Society put on one hell of a set, here is the full song list.

Black Label Society Set List

Crazy Horse
Funeral Bell
Bleed for Me
Demise of Sanity
Parade of the Dead
Suicide Messiah
Guitar Solo
Godspeed Hell Bound
Fire it Up
Concrete Jungle

The house lights came back on, and quickly there was a mass exodus for beer replenishing and bladder evacuation. I took a stroll near the merchandise booth, only to be disappointed by the pricing and lack of interesting products. Then it was back down to shuffle along the concrete to find my seat once more.

It was actually a long wait between acts. They lifted up another curtain, this time the word Epitaph was projected on to it; this being the name of the tour. The same female DJ came back out and started up those old school licks once more. Those in the front few rows were steadily rocking out to whatever she spun. The rest of us, the less fortunate, could barely here, because the audio was turned way down.

Finally the lights dimmed, and a general silence fell across the arena. Within seconds the roar of the masses shook the building once more. Once again from behind the cloth you could here the strumming of guitars. The veil on the stage fell, and there stood the masters of classic metal, Judas Priest.

Rob Halford and company were on the ball from the get go. It was strange to see such energy from a man who is sixty years old, but you would never have known it. He stormed across that stage with a youthful vigor, his black leather outfit glistening in the over head spotlights.

The group powered through the first three songs with a real explosiveness. Ian Hill, on bass, was comfortable in the background, rapping on his bass with a stoic grace. Glenn Tipton, on guitar, carried himself with a rockers walk, strutting the stage like the top cat. Richie Faulkner, also on guitar, was the most electric member, and also the youngest member (at 31 years old). He owned his corner of the platform, striking poses in his leather pants, which really seemed to ignited the female contingent of the crowd. Scott Travis, on drums, was way in the back, his little head would poke up from time to time, while he drove the beat into your gut. The band was hot and loud, and they kicked the shit out of that crowd.

The best of the night was by far Mr.Halford. Who was dripping with sweat and sporting a well deserved grin most of the evening. His vocal set was on fire. I have no clue how any man can hit the notes he does, let alone someone who is 30 years my senior. The abundant use of pyrotechnics, really helped set a demonic back drop for this legend. He is a metal god.

The set list was that of dreams. They played every song I hoped they would play, two of which being Blood Red Skies and Victim. Check out the entire list here.

Judas Priest Set List

Rapid FIre
Metal Gods
Heading for the Highway
Judas Rising
Never Satisfied
Diamonds and Rust
Beyond the Realms
Blood Red Skies
Green Manalishi
Breaking The Law

Hellion/Electric Eye
Another Thing

Living After Midnight

I have to say in retrospect I was even more impressed when I sat down and relived the night in my mind. I mean at the show I was blown away. But later when I was remembering all the fire and flames and sharp-tongued lyrics, I really reveled in how well it was pulled together. Going into the show I was not expecting much, but I can tell you, that this was one of my favorite metal shows of the year. If I ever get a chance to see Judas Priest again, I will jump at the chance. Hats of to Rob Halford, Ian Hill, Glenn Tipton, Scott Travis, and Richie Faulkner, you rocked the fuck out of Rogers Arena.

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