Since I didn't book the ticket online, I didn't even know that I would make it inside. But, where there is will there is a way and as soon as I reached Hammersmith few blokes were selling tickets in black. I enquired the cost which started with 100£ and on some bargaining came down to 50£. I was surprised with such steep haggling especially in the UK, but I didn't bother buying even at this price. I bought GA ticket for 45£(original cost being £43.5), but I was worried if this ticket is actually authentic? When I reached the gates, the bar code reader took quite long to validate the ticket, which was making me a bit nervous. But Wohoo!!! I was inside! I went inside the auditorium, which is an indoor one much like O2 arena in Brixton. There were not a lot of people inside when I reached, so I managed to get as close as 2-3 feets from the main stage. The band performing at the time was "Kobra and Lotus ", to be frank I have never heard about the band. The lady singer was singing with high pitch screams , bit too loud and shrilling for my taste(or may be it was the sound system?). Anyway, I was very hungry, so I went out searching for food. While having my sandwich I noticed that crowd was bit older and more alternatively dressed compared to the most gigs I have been to. There were people in 40s, people with a lot of tattoos and people with lot of metal jewellery and leather clothing. But I was not surprised this is what Judas are associated with anyway.
As I returned back this band finished its performance, and the stage was being reorganized for the next band. The next band to perform was the Saxon, this band is contemporary of the Judas and these guys had preformed together for quite some time. The band was being cheered well and surprisingly by a much younger crowd. The band was pretty tight and performed about 10 songs, sadly I haven't heard any of them before. The band offered choice to crowd between two songs, but it was hard to make out what crowd actually chose. Saxon also made an announcement that they will be at the Download, there were few hands in air when they mentioned the Download. So, It's apparent that I am not the only dude obsessed with metal mayhem. Saxon finished with a great cheering from the crowd.
And now the stage was covered with epitaph curtain, while the band crew was setting up the stage. The crowd started screaming and some dude started the chants "Priest!!! Priest!!!", which didn't lasted as long as you would expect. The feel around the place was very electrified with metal crowd getting closer to the stage and entire floor was getting crowded. The lights went off and they started playing "War pigs", crowd started singing along the war pigs. Inspite of being fully aware of the gig rituals, It was stil very exciting and I was anticipating some surprise. The bright halo at the Devils fork on Epitaph screen was getting prominent while the curtain was removed to reveal the entire crew. My eyes stopped right at Rob, who was wearing sunglasses and a long jacket with so much metal attached to it that it would even make the most brootal scandanavian band feel like a little girl. Rob was singing far from the crowd and facing sidewise to the stage, which is little unusual for most front men. The new guitarist Richie Faulkner was right in front trying few guitar antiques. I was trying to find the Guitar lord Glenn Tipton, who at that moment was modestly playing on right hand side. The background screen was showing British Steel while they were playing "Rapid fire" as the opening number. The song ended with Rob's signature high pitch scream. The second song "Metal god" followed immediately. It took me a while to recognize the song and I started singing along. With every scream the sound goes louder when the chorus goes "Meeeetaaaaaallllllll god!!!".
Now Rob start talking about Judas priest style heavy metal, the crowd screams "fuck yeah!!!". Rob was now wearing a denim jacket for the next song which crowd sang along with him for the most time" and we are heading out to highway and I got nothing else to lose". While faulkner was soloing, Rob stood next to him sticking his tongue out, lol. The background screen changed to "Angel of retribution" and faulkner started a great lead while Glenn Tipton stood in his typical metal rocking style. The screen this time went animated with a lot of lightening while crowd chorusing for "judas rising". The next song they played was from album sin after sin called as "Starbreaker", which I have never heard before. Rob's dress changed pretty much with mood of song and this time he was wearing shiny long coat and boots with cowboy spurs. The trio of rob, richie and glenn stood right at the front edge of stage while Ian hill was pretty static in his right hand corner.
The classic infamous double lead kicks off the next song "victims of change" from album "Sad wings of destiny". In the middle of the song Lord Tipton performs a face melting solo. The song lasted over 11 minutes and drummer Scott Travis was doing his stick in the air thing while beating snare brutally. And crowd was going "ho ho hoooooooo" with the chorus I raised both my hands in the air showing devil horns, I was completely spellbound. The song ended with signature screams and each beat followed a dry ice bursts from the stage.
The next screen change was for Rocka Rolla, the first and my fav Priest album. I was very excited thinking they will play either of the first two songs, but instead they played "Never Satisfied". It's a very classic metal track and I was not expecting it to sound heavy. Rob Halford starts talking about this song which they try to do it differently every time meanwhile the stage was set for an acoustic or unplugged song. Richie Faulkner started with the acoustic guitar without percussion and Tipton providing some basic rhythm. Later Travis played only the high hats and tom tom while rotating the drum sticks with fingers and throwing them up in air. They were playing cover of Joan Baez's Diamonds and Rust. Later a full lead guitars and heavy metal drumming kicks in, the transition was amazingly smooth. I tried to sing along with the rob, but it's hard keeping up with master. The next introduction was from the album "Nostradamus" called as dawn of creation followed by the actual song "prophecy", for the most part I can only hear the word "nostradamus!!!", I was staring at the 3-D spherical Nostradamus display most of the times. At the end of the song, Rob was dressed in full Silver color cloak holding the Judas' devil's tuning fork and sparklers were set off from this trident. It was Spectacular!!!
Now stage have two Judas Priest's devil fork on each side, the song was sounding astonishingly familiar but I couldn't recall the lyrics at the moment. Felt like killing myself for being so unprepared for the concert. Richie Faulkner directed the crowd to put hands in the air, while Rob Halford was going on with a voice over. The ambience for the song was red lighting with focus on forks with yellow halo. I realized by now the song is called Night crawler from Painkiller. I must admit metal crowd is pretty amazing, there was this older(compared to me) couple standing next to me. This dude picked up the Nepalese girl up on his shoulder because being short she was struggling to see anything on the stage. Such generosity and spirit makes metalheads pretty fucking cool. Although turbo is not a great song, but lets face it, it's an easy song to remember and crowd loves it. The dude standing behind me was not pleased by it, but I sang my heart out with the song.
Rob now talks about classic heavy metal and it's origin in UK, to which there was a big "woooo" from the audience, he then kicks off next song beyond the realms of death. The song starts with slow tempo and picks up with a lots of fast riffs and beats, with quite a lot of variation in tempo. Rob was sweating heavily, so he stood near to those dry ice vents, lol. The song ended with all three guitarists doing judas style headbanging stand, just fucking unreal. I have completely lost my mind in this great series of freaking amazing songs. The next song was something I always dreamt of watching live. The amazing opening riff by Glenn Tipton and following lead by Richie Faulkner was just directly hitting the center for madness in my brain. I was singing and headbanding like crazy with every riff and every beat. Sworn to avenge, condemn to hell, tempt not the blade.. fear the sentinel.............. Rob halford, ladies and gentleman is greatest heavy metal vocalist of all times, period. There are very few who can sing like him, though he is not his prime, but for the most part he is still godly good. I was too busy headbanging and showing devil horns as a mark of my gratitude, I didn't bother to look at the stage.The next song they played was from album "Ram it down", the song is called "blood red sky", I was resting my neck after the mayhem from the previous song. This song is comparatively milder even the vocals are in lower octaves. The great vocal prowess of Rob halford is very noticable in this song, he continues to amaze even at this frequency. Faulkner on the other hand kept crowd engaged with his guitar antics. The song ended with a lot of fire coming from vents on stage, This was my first show with any pyrotechnics and being quite close to stage, I can feel the actual heat. The stage now turned to green and Rob starts talking about the Judas performing in 37 countries and for over million fans and he thanked Priest's amazing heavy metal fans calling them the life support of band. The next song was cover of Macwood Fleet's Green manalishi. The crowd was screaming along "oooooo ooooooo ... " with halford as he asked everybody to sing.
The display screen changed back to British steel, Halford started talking about the great heavy metal journey of NWOBHM bands like Maiden and Motorhead. With each name there was increasing uproar in the crowd. Rob then walks with a badass-style thumping the micstand on the stage. And the next thing you know is... shouts of "Breaking the law" and repitition of "breaking the law" for many times. As soon as the guitars riffs and drums kick in the crowd goes nuts, entire fucking song is sung by the crowd, not a single word by Rob Halford. This is one of the most amazing heavy metal anthems and this was a great moment to witness it live with the home crowd. BUT BUT, this was not it, Judas were on the killing spree, the Drum solo by Scott Travis was easy to recognize by it's pattern and I knew what is coming next. Scott travis is an insanely talented drummer who is not so widely known. For a minute I thought he was a new drummer, since he looks quite young. 4 minutes of amazing drum solo which would soon convert into one of the greatest song ever written in the history of heavy metal. Oh the great opening riff which I have heard countless times and insane drumming followed by Rob Halford's high pitched vocals... Faster than a bullet, terrifying scream.... This is the pain killer..... I was banging my head violently, while there was a mini most pit somewhere on my right. Again, I was too busy headbanging, so I didn't bother to look up except for that skull blasting Glenn Tipton solo, which is pretty much faster than the bullet(pun intended). What a great rush for every milisecond that my brain can resolve in each and every note. This was turning out to be most awesome set list I could imagine.
Entire band left the stage besides the drummer, who asked everyone to chant "Judas Priest", this was the first encore to the show. The band resumed with next song "Electric eye" with Hellion intro. The screen displayed an animated eye looking at the crowd while crowd sang in unison. The song finished with Travis going berserk with drums and Richie Raising his guitar in air. Fuck Fuck Fuck!!! Rob halford comes back with his bike on stage engine roaring...vroom vroom vroom, which could mean just one thing. Glenn Tipton plays 1 minute engine firing leads followed by the distortions from wah-wah padels. This day couldn't get any better. Rob Halfords starts singing Hell bent... hell bent for Leather with a leather stick in hand and fully clad in leather clothes. And again, there was a small mosh pit forming just next to me, I was quite stuck to avoid the most pit but luckily the mosh pit didn't quite reached near me. I was exhausted to the point that I have to stop to breathe while singing along, but it was such a great thrill. Richie faulkner was playing guitar with teeth and hitting the guitar on wooden steps, while Glenn touched his guitar to the ground and started jumping with it, ha ha! As the song finished Glenn came forward and raised guitar towards the crowd and I Bowed with double devil horns towards him as part of my respect to my favourite guitarist. I thought may be this is the end of the show, but crowd was not moving at all. Rob returned back with his classic biker hat still on and started singing "hey hey" while audience sang with him. He continued this 2 minute long audience vocal warm up, What a great showman!!! and what a great command over the crowd. The next song they played was "you have got another thing coming" from "screaming for venegence". The song halted at about 3 minutes and turned into richie faulkner's 4 minute epic solo. I must admit he is fitting into gaint shoes of KK downing very well and that too in his own style. Rob returned with union jack wrapped around shoulder while singing ... you got another thing coming... in baritone ranges, while audience echoing the line.
While this was the first time Ian Hill came forward throwing guitar picks and Scott Travis giving drum sticks to a fellow from audience. Other members left the stage, but for the last encore Scott Travis went upto the drumset and started talking in his american accent about the DVD for this concert. The crowd started clapping with drum beats. The troupe returned back with another classic from British steel. This time the background changed to Judas priest united and Rob Halford was wearing denim jacket with Metal God written on it, how fucking appropriate!!! The crowd sang most of the song.... living after midnight rocking to the dawn.... then I am gone..... I sang as much as can since by this time I was exhausted to the limit. As the song finished band gathered together and Rob halford came with his badass walking stick with a motherfucking skull. The band bowed toward the crowd. I was clapping with both my hands in the air. Entire auditorium was chanting "Priest" "Priest" "Priest". Rob halford stayed for a while along with the chants and made a saluting gesture towards the crowd. I had no idea weather this is the real end or not. But as soon as the auditorium lights were on and another non Judas' song started playing on speakers, I started walking with the crowd. I sms'ed one other Judas' devotee that this is the best fucking heavy metal concert I have ever attended. I was so tired and hungry, but the sound was still resonating in my head. Probably this will not die any soon as I am heading next to Download festival. \m/
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