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Judas Priest @ Gibson Amphitheater 8/2/09

Photo by by armen_terminator via Flickr, used by permission
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Rob Halford, making fetish gear safe for frustrated hetero youth once again following a twelve-year absence, is leading a crowd of heavily amped looking dudes through a catchy singalong chorus that all of them know by heart. Dudes are grabbing dudes by the shoulders and hollering “Living after midnight! Rockin’ till the dawwwwn!” at each other with great feeling, gazing into each others eyes. The band behind him sounds tight and powerful, twin guitar lines pinching off the air between the strings. It’s the end of the seventies once again, my friends, like the entire decade of eighties metal never happened and we’ve returned to the source. Long live Judas Priest.

Judas Priest - “Priest”, to their many American friends - remain a force to be reckoned with. It’s been thirty years since the release of British Steel, the album that put them over in America, and this year’s celebratory performance of the whole thing in its entirety was one of the big events of the year for old metal heads. Thankfully for those who braved the entry fee, the band did not deny expectations but crunched out a set that spent most of its time replicating what a real British Steel set might have been like back in the day, pulling out early favorites like “The Ripper”, “Victim of Changes” and “Diamonds and Rust”, while ignoring most of their post-1982 catalog and giving up only one track from their 2008 concept album about Nostradamus, which about was the right amount.