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Aston Villa Leisure Centre, Birmingham, England

March 19th, 1991

Rob Halford
Pic: Matt Sampson

The opening show of Judas Priest’s UK tour attracted virtually every Brum-based rock singer ranging from Robert Plant to Andy Pyke. And what pray was Ronnie James Dio doing backstage?

Without question this was Priest at a peak of ferociousness. Believe me, I’ve seen this band countless times, but tonight they really took the bit between their teeth and damn near chewed clean through it in their eagerness to prove that not only are they undisputed kings of the hill, but that they have no intention of being usurped by any thrashing whippersnappers for a few years yet.

Inaugurating Aston Villa’s hairy hordes into the Priesthood via a breakneck ‘Hell Bent For Leather’, with an initial Harley growl as hardcore jester Rob Halford glides his mobile throne through a thundercloud of dry ice as his henchmen, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, cover the flanks, Priest state their intentions from the off. The 1978 classic over with, the band bask in the applause that antecedes a set designed to leave no quarter.

‘Metal Gods’ is positively planet busting in its magnitude; a great stomping giant intent on grinding everything beneath its heel. And talking of grinding… the song with more rolled Rs than a Danish dictionary reminds one and all that British Steel starts and ends here. The rest of the set is of unequaled pedigree; ‘Riding On The Wind’ featuring probably the first interesting drum solo I’ve ever heard courtesy of Scott “Skyscraper” Travis, a gruesomely glaucous ‘Green Manalishi’, the deliciously disemboweling ‘Ripper’, and naturellement ‘Victim Of Changes’. The latter masterpiece sadly tarnished by feedback acknowledged by a disgusted Downing.

Then, of course, there was a plethora of ankle-snapping anthems from the Painkiller album in the form of a lunatic sprint through the title track, a lumbering ‘Nightcrawler’ – complete with Rob hilariously doing his darndest to persuade us he was the beast personified – and the quickfire ‘All Guns Blazing’, where Halford truly stamped his authority as the ultimate metal vocalist; the man’s high Cs tonight surgically sharp and piercing every nerve end.

Inevitable encores of ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘Living After Midnight’ were rounded off with the chugging ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.

Judas Priest remain triumphant and confident. I’m glad to see them back home! Long may they reign. Oh yes, Ian Hill was rumoured to be onstage too!

Garry Sharpe-Young

Review taken from Metal Forces, Issue 60 (1991)

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