By Adam Wills
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of their landmark album British Steel, Judas Priest returned to Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre for one of their best shows in recent years. Armed with a setlist consisting of the legendary 1980 album in its entirety, as well as some additional classics, Rob Halford and company performed a near-flawless set in front of another rowdy crowd (apparently their last appearance garnered record breaking numbers of patrons escorted out of the venue – this showing didn’t seem any different).
Opening with “Breaking the Law”, the metal gods wasted no time in electrifying the crowd with the dual guitar attack of Tipton and Downing, followed by the Scott Travis-fueled “Rapid Fire”. Priest hammered through classic after classic with electric-eye like precision, including the crowd-singalongs of “Metal Gods” and “Living After Midnight,” “Grinder,” “United” and “Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Wise”.
“The Rage” and “Steeler” provided a close to the British Steel segment, but Halford wasn’t quite through, immediately breaking into one of my personal favourites, “The Ripper”. With a slight shift to new material, we were reminded of the band’s recent sampling with “Prophecy” from the Nostradamus album. While it was perfect in execution, it definitely got lost in the list of classics that surrounded it.
“Hell Patrol” was followed by “Victim of Changes” to cap off the main set, only to be followed by the classic re-entrance (motorcycle and all) for “Freewheel Burning,” “Diamonds and Rust” and lastly, the signature “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.”
Halford’s voice is as powerful as ever, while Tipton and Downing proved once again that they are one of the all time great guitar duos – and Ian Hill and Travis are as solid as they come providing the backbone to the classic Priest sound. With talks of an upcoming tour of Nostradamus in its entirety, I can only hope that they pass on the idea. While they will put on a solid show, no doubt, it is Priest’s classics that really cement their status as Metal Gods. How about a 30th anniversary tour of Screaming For Vengeance instead, guys?