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Judas Priest Bids Farewell To Manchester!

November 12, 2011


Manchester Apollo, 16th July 2011 (Gig)

Judas Priest’s ‘Epitaph’ tour has sparked a lot of publicity not least because it’s their purported final world tour (though not a complete end to their live career) but because K.K. Downing couldn’t even be bothered to retire after the tour. Like many Priest fans I was in the frame of mind that the band calling it a day was the right thing to do because the ‘Nostradamus’ tour saw them simply going through the motions. I needn’t have worried because after they had opened with powerful versions of ‘Rapid Fire’ and ‘Metal Gods’ it was clear that Halford’s voice was sounding better than it had done in years and he’s lost weight too.

The setlist was a treat. I would have preferred to hear ‘Deal With The Devil’ than ‘Judas Rising’ and ‘Painkiller’ should be left alone now; it’s far too screechy. They played blinding versions of ‘The Sentinel’, ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death’, ‘The Green Manalishi…’ and ‘Victim Of Changes’. ‘Turbo’ got the crowd psyched and Halford made the audience sing the whole of ‘Breaking The Law’ from start to finish. The fan favourite ‘Blood Red Skies’ was a highlight and ‘Diamonds & Rust’ was brilliantly performed. The three encores consisted of the usual faves: ‘The Hellion’ and ‘Electric Eye’ followed by ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ and finally, ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’’.

However, the Mighty Priest were troubled by some glaring technical difficulties. It was a little embarrassing for them as Halford said “Let’s go…” as a lead into the third song ‘Heading Out To The Highway’ and nothing happened for at least a full minute! Also, prior to blasting into what was an excellent version of ‘Starbreaker’, the ‘Rock Rolla’ album cover appeared on the backdrop which prompted Halford to say “I’ve seen that before…” when it popped up again (correctly) during a version of the obscure song ‘Never Satisfied’. Too much was happening at once on what was a relatively small stage which caused the band too loose momentum as did walking off stage after what seem liked almost every song. The costume changes were too frequent and walking around with a cane during ‘Prophecy’ is not something a Metal God should be doing.

Halford was more mobile than he was on the previous UK tour and he hit a lot of high notes. The new guitarist Richie Faulkner did a great job despite the technical difficulties on his side but it’s clear he was hired not only because he’s an impressive guitarist but because he happens to look like a young K.K. Downing. It was a good show and though Judas Priest are capable of doing better it were still superior to the previous Manchester outing. The surprisingly diverse setlist and Halford’s physical and vocal health made it a more entertaining show than predicated. They may be retiring from the big world jaunts but let’s hope this wasn’t their last trip to the North West.

Copyright Neil Daniels © 2011

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