GIG REVIEW: An Evening With JUDAS PRIEST & DEEP PURPLE Live at FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton
Judas Priest and Deep Purple have combined forces for a monumental tour. With both bands being considered founders of old school heavy metal, albeit in completely different styles, this Monday night in Hamilton, Ontario looked to be a heavy metal hotbed! Joining them in the opening slot were Temperance Movement, a UK based bluesy rock band. Seemingly intent on reaching as many fans as possible , this tour has been hitting several smaller markets on multiple legs of the tour as opposed to just stopping in major cities ( for example, they have played Oshawa, London, and Hamilton in lieu of a Toronto stop).
With the daunting task of warming the stage for two industry giants, Temperance Movement showed they were up for the task. Frontman Phil Campbell did an admirable job, shucking and jiving his way through an energetic bluesy set, picking up some new fans along the way from the crowd that showed up early. Currently touring in support of their recent album, ‘A Deeper Cut’, Temperance Movement have proven they can hang with the big boys, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from them in the future.
Hitting the stage at full force with the title track off of the newest album ‘Firepower’, the metal gods Judas Priest showed that even after 5 decades of recording and touring, they can still deliver the goods. I can’t quote exactly what Rob Halford shrieked to the enthusiastic crowd as an introduction, but all I heard in my head ( by way of 15 year old me listening to ‘Priest….Live’ back in 1987 ) was “Monday night and the Priest is back!!!”. While Halford displayed his still incredible vocal prowess, guitarists Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap ( filling in for Glenn Tipton who had to step down from touring due to complications with Parkinsons Disease) traded guitar licks back and forth in Priest’s trademark duel fashion. Maintaining duties in the rhythm section were long time drummer Scott Travis ( also a former member of one of my favorites, The Scream ) and the last original member Ian Hill on bass.
Touring in support of ‘Firepower’, it stands to reason that three more tracks were included in the set as well as the title track. These were “Lightning Strike”, “Rising From Ruins”, and “No Surrender”. Aside from these, scattered throughout the set were favorites from their storied career, including “Grinder”, “Sinner”, “Bloodstone”, “Turbo Lover”, and “Freewheel Burning”. As if these gems weren’t enough, also included in the 75 metal minutes were heavyweight hits “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and “Painkiller”, with the trademark entrance of Rob Halford and his custom Harley-Davidson for “Hell Bent For Leather”. I always get a little anxious for the bike entrance, as I was in attendance in 1991 in Toronto when a malfunction with the drum riser door resulted in a concussion for Rob Halford and an unfortunate instrumental version of “Hell Bent For Leather”.
Favoring past classics from ‘British Steel’ for the encore, fans were treated to an appearance by Glenn Tipton as he joined his band mates on stage to perform. It was certainly a treat to have him join the boys to run through “Metal Gods”, “Breaking The Law”, and “Living After Midnight”, as well as “No Surrender” from the new album, proving that time or even a terrible sickness can not keep the forefathers of metal from doing their thing. Fans in attendance would likely agree that they’d gotten their moneys worth already, yet they still had Deep Purple to come!
With the stage being mostly cleared after Priest, Deep Purple launched into “Highway Star” to begin a no-frills / no gimmick set. After several line- up changes over the years, this version included Ian Gillan (vocals), Ian Paice ( drums ), Roger Glover ( bass ), Steve Morse ( guitar ), and Don Airey ( keyboards ). Also with a storied 50 year career, it is a little astonishing to think that fans are witnessing a century of combined experience sharing a stage. As mentioned, there were few props on stage other than some large video / lighting screens behind the band, so fans were treated to a stripped down set of old favorites, including “Pictures of Home”, “Strange Kind of Woman”, “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming”, and others, before closing with “Space Truckin’” and “Smoke On The Water”.
I did find it a little strange that Deep Purple closed the show after Judas Priest, considering their different styles, although with a co-headlining tour I suppose it does make sense to alternate nights as well. This leg of the tour is wrapping up at the end of September, so you still have plenty of chances to see these industry icons in a city near you!