Live: Judas Priest/Whitesnake

Judas Priest pic #1
Rob Halford of Judas Priest. Photo by Ross Halfin.

VERIZON WIRELESS THEATER -- 7/24/2009: At first glance, paying $60 to see two bands whose glory days were close to two decades go would seem foolish. To the packed house that stood on their feet and soaked up the musical ambrosia being doled out by Judas Priest and Whitesnake, however, it was well worth the price.
The prospect of seeing groups that have been around this long can be a sketchy endeavor. In some cases, they seem to've aged ungracefully, just like many of those in attendance. For this show, though, that wasn't the case -- both bands played and looked as good as they ever did.
Judas Priest was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the legendary British Steel album. A landmark in heavy metal, it still resonated with an audience that ranged from 5 to 50. The band opened by playing the album all the way through, and by witnessing that, you were really able to appreciate what a monster piece of work it is. The one drawback to playing the album all at once, mind you, is that it severely limited the rest of the set list. While you did get to hear "You've Got Another Thing Comin" and "Freewheel Burnin," many classics were left out. Thankfully, we were limited to just one song from the new album.
No matter what song that Judas Priest played, as long as Rob Halford was singing, all was good. Besides having a voice that sounds as good as it did when British Steel was originally released, he commands a presence second to none. His stride is that of an Old West gunslinger armed with a wireless mic.
Not to be outdone were opener Whitesnake and singer David Coverdale. The newly Americanized vocalist led his band of hard rock stalwarts through the band's catalog. Coverdale's voice is still strong, but he used some interesting techniques to disguise the effects of Father Time. He would start the chorus, for example, but let the guys singing backup finish it. Or he would do the reverse, and let them start it and punctuate with highnotes. One thing that has not changed is the David Coverdale has spurts where he thinks he is Robert Plant. I guess old habits do die hard.
Many have a tendency to simply dismiss any group over 40 as simply a nostalgia act holding on to past glory. While that may be true for some, after seeing Judas Priest and Whitesnake perform live, you cannot deny that both bands still have the goods. END