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Gig Review: Judas Priest @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 16/03/2019

18 Mar 2019 // A review by terry666

It was a very sad day when Ozzy Osbourne had to cancel his New Zealand tour, but it came with a silver lining. We had one Judas Priest show, turning them from being a support slot to full headliners. As a huge fan it was a dream come true. I had seen them once before when they played Westfest but however good that was, it was a shortened festival set. I also saw them play just days prior this show in Melbourne at the Download Festival, but once again it was a shortened festival set. I hoped and dreamed that we would get treated to something special as even with the shortened sets Judas Priest always delivered the goods and that’s exactly what they did. I don't what it is that makes me so excited to see a Judas Priest show. I’ve seen some of the biggest metal bands in the world and yes, I always get excited, but Judas Priest always get me into a frenzy.

Some might say that without KK and Glenn the band are not firing on all cylinders, but they are incorrect. Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap are not only very proficient musicians in their own right but they also bring the energy and charisma that win you over. Andy is mostly known as a producer of some of the biggest metal albums of all time, and he has been playing in bands for a very long time already with the last effort from his band Hell being an almighty display of the power of Heavy metal.

Halestorm opened up the show with a high energy set that had everybody up and dancing. The arena was pretty full and Lzzy Hale came to show those unconverted why they are one of the biggest hard rock bands of the moment. They have been coming to New Zealand a lot recently and have shown their love for New Zealand by taking our own Devilskin out on the road many times. By the end of their set they had the crowd of Metalheads eating out of their hands. Giant drum sticks lots of banter and just great hard rock won over even hardened metal heads.

War Pigs from Black Sabbath started to be played through the arena and the crowd responded by singing along, even that in itself was wonderful. This wasn’t a half-arse effort, with every person in the arena united and singing from the heart and soul knowing what was going to occur at the end of the song. Moments later Rob Halford stepped onto the stage and the crowd roared into life. The emotions of the anticipation took over and the pit went into overdrive. Aside from the awesome video displays, all eyes were on Rob the Metal God and he showed all those who witnessed what Heavy Metal is really about.

We got a career spanning set list that left not a dry eye in the venue or was it just me that was shedding tears of joy. I screamed along with every other fan. I just about exploded when the opening notes of The Ripper were heard. I never dreamed I would ever hear that live and it set me off like a firecracker. We were treated to a very special show around 20 songs of Heavy Metal heaven. The brotherhood and community was strong, and when someone fell in the pit they were picked up strangers hugged and smiles, tears, joy was seen across the thousands of faces that witnessed this display of Heavy Metal power. The entire band are showmen and even though Rob was the Frontman and most of the attention was on him, Richie and Andy traded riffs and licks like demons fighting for a soul. The frenetic pace and soaring solos twin guitar attack at its best. Judas Priest were one of the first Metal bands to showcase this, and it paved the way for many to follow. If anyone needed a lesson they were surely taught one by these two guitar superstars.

Many moons ago when I was a younger man I remember watching a short documentary film called Heavy Metal Parking Lot. It was basically a guy filming a parking lot before a Judas Priest show in the 80's. It was filmed in the states, but it always set the benchmark for me of how it should feel to be at a show like this. Here in New Zealand I had always looked for that when I attended the many Metal shows I’ve been to. Walking up to Mt Smart for Iron Maiden was the closest I had every felt close to that and I hadn’t felt anything close to that again for a very long time, but this show was the pinnacle and the joy, the passion, the exhilaration, the comradery all were here.

For me this was the ultimate show. Every element that made up my love for heavy metal was right there. Everyone there united under the banner of Heavy metal and Judas Priest. This was the greatest Heavy Metal show I have ever seen, and I can live in the hope that once again Judas Priest will come back as the last visuals of the night stated The Priest will return.

Five exploding stars.

Photos thanks to Chris Morgan Photography


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