Guest Author & Photographer – Biswajit Patowari
Check out Author’s blog here.
Judas Priest are touring major cities all over the world for their EPITAPH tour aka Farewell Tour. In short, these performances are their last, well most probably last, live performances ever. So if you are a heavy metal fan, grab your tickets wherever they are playing next in the coming months. This should be one of those things which you must do before you die. (I added ‘Most probably’ because Rob Halford in an interview somewhere has hinted on possibility of small scale tours in future.)
I have done it, since; on the midnight of 20th Feb I came back home after witnessing my first ever and probably last Judas Priest live performance here in Fort Canning Park, Singapore.
Fort Canning Park, as the name suggest is not actually a full fledged park but most of it is. The actual place where the concert took place, is actually an open green field where the organizer have installed a make shift stage. It was a decent looking establishment, which I actually liked.
When I reached the concert, it was around 7.00 pm, and Lamb of God has already started with their songs. Ya that’s right ‘Lamb of God’ were opening for Priest in Singapore. I am not a big fan of Lamb of God kinda Heavy Metal music. I am rather more of a Classic Heavy Metal fan, even Rob Halford has confessed during one of his monologue between the songs that they are, in heart, a Classic Heavy Metal band. One interesting trivia about Lamb of God fans; did you knew that the Lamb of God actually started with the band name ‘Burn the Priest’.
They played their hit songs, I banged my head on few of them. After almost an hour later, they left the stage with tribute to the Priests and confession on Judas Priest’s influence on their music. I mean which Heavy Metal Band aren’t influenced by Judas Priest?
LoG had left the stage, and the organizers are now busy preparing the stage for the Priests. They had put-up big screen in front of the stage with the word EPITAPH on it and on the background, surprising, AC DC is being played. I mean the usual choice would have been to play Priest itself. But I had no complains, AC DC too are my one of my all-time favorites.
May be because I was standing the whole time or was a bit tired coming directly to the concert from my office, I think it took the organizers an eternity to prep the stage. I was getting small doses of goose bumps after every 10 – 15 minutes, with the thought that within any second now Priest will be on the stage.
And, eventually, they were. The starting was done in a classical way. With the EPITAPH screen still in place, Priest started with Battle Hymns (Black Sabbath) spreading an eerie and at the same time enthralling effect throughout the arena. Although I have never been to any Priest concert before, but I knew for fact that they are big on spectacle (courtesy YouTube). The stage was designed to pure Heavy Metal taste, ornamented with big chains, two big Epitaph Crosses on either sides of the stage and a Screen for projections over Scott Travis. Scott Travis, the drummer, was seated in the middle of the stage over an elevated platform, accessible through stairs.
Judas Priest had begun their leg of the concert and everybody was on their toes now. The crowd was a welcome mix of old and new. It was pretty nice to see old folks in the crowd head banging, clapping and shouting shoulder to shoulder with the young crowd. That’s the beauty, when legends play.
Priest went through the usual set list for this Epitaph Tour. An experienced person or someone who has attended a Priest concert before might consider the Monday night spectacle as subdued. But to me, it was crazy enough. Rob Halford donned a new outfit after every song, sometimes even starting the song while still inside the makeshift dressing room in the stage. And ya he did came to the stage in a bike and did a bit his trademark spanking too. One look at him walking with a cane, you can realize he has gotten old. But the way he was screaming his guts out, I think he can give any young metal aspirant a run for his money.
I haven’t heard K K. Downing in real life, but his replacement Richie Faulkner , as the lead guitarist, cannot be ignored. The old horse Glenn Tipton was at his usual magical best. He has a very neat way of relating to the crown by punching his chest with right hand and pointing it to the crowd, after almost every song. I always like to these kinda light personal touches. Touches like Rob Halford’s cry to the crowd to sing along for Judas is Rising, Night Crawler, Turbo Lover, You’ve got another thing coming, Living after Midnight. This is what Live Performances is all about.
In the end, when Rob Halford said good bye and left the stage with the crew, Scott Travis came back to the empty stage and ask the crowd to call the band back for another song. May be it was per-rehearsed, but who cares. We shouted. They came back and sang one of my favorite Priest songs ‘Living After Midnight’. A fitting end to a memorable night.
Thank You Judas Priest