The Metal Masters Tour was an event that found the might of Judas Priest and Heaven and Hell combining forces with both Motorhead and Testament and we were sure to be on point to bring this story to the masses. It was one of the best shows of the year and for readers to see our comments on all of the performers and photos of each please click on the logo below to be brought to our main PiercingMetal.com article. Keep the horns raised high legions.
Artist: Judas Priest
Venue: PNC Bank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
Opener: Heaven and Hell, Motorhead, Testament
Label: Epic Records
They were calling this event “The Metal Masters Tour” and I could think of no better title for a concert that would unite Testament, Motorhead, Heaven and Hell and Judas Priest all on the same bill. The Metal fans of the world know full well that these bands are juggernauts in their own right but when you pull all of this incendiary energy together for the sake of the genre it is bound to guarantee a performance like never before. If one looked at it statistically based on years in the business we were dealing with a combined expertise of over 120 years worth of Heavy Metal background and all of them offer material that is as strong today as it was when we first heard it. The two regional shows for me came to deciding between Jones Beach and the PNC Bank Arts center and I went with the Arts Center based on how much I had enjoyed the previous years Ozzfest at this venue. It would start early and even though there were still a bunch of people grilling food and drinking beers while the Metal was blasting out of their radios, it was shortly after 5pm or so when the mighty Testament was going to take the stage so I wasted little time with pre-gaming festivity and got my spot to absorb the intensity all the better.
Testament: I was really happy to find Testament on this tour because the band had recently done some shows to showcase their classics and their incredible new CD “The Formation Of Damnation”, and based on how much of a juggernaut they are onstage I knew they would be an amazing opener for this tour. The downside would be this would find the band doing a no-nonsense gig with little more than hellos from singer Chuck Billy. This was based on their only being allotted about thirty minutes to give us their all and on the up side it seems as though Testaments guys only need that much to get their point across. The opened up with “Over The Wall” and did a new one right away with “More Than Meets The Eye”. We got the new CD’s title track and their classic “Practice What You Preach” but before you knew it the band was walking offstage. It was a knock you down thirty minutes without question, but there were still a lot of empty seats as the folks hanging out in the parking areas opted to not rush in to only see the band for such a short time. I guess they were more confident about a quick return to longer gigs in the immediate future. I only knew that I was not going to take any chances and miss them. Obviously they were on point and during the entire gig their guitarist Alex Skolnick had a beaming smile as the crowd cheered wildly. If you have not heard the new album yet, make sure you grab a copy because it is receiving rave reviews everywhere. Motorhead was next and a great follow up to what just went down.
Motorhead: The guys in Motorhead were also celebrating a brand new album with SPV Records “Motorizer”, and this release gives you exactly what you expect in a Motorhead CD. It’s bare knuckles heavy Rock & Roll with little compromise or fluff and that is just the way I like it. The band hit the stage running like a locomotive and performed in front of a massive banner that showcased their new albums artwork (talk about product placement, this would certainly make the new recording hard to forget). Steaming through their opener “Dr. Rock”, Lemmy is the man with the plan and still commands the Metal legions for his cause with the hoarse gravelly tone we have loved for so many years. “Stay Clean” was a nice inclusion and “Metropolis” never fails to impress. They kept the set to their established anthems and it was fun to watch the fans rocking out with at most instances two beers held high in the air as the heads were banging in reckless abandon. It was amusing to see that not much was spilled while this was going on and while I love the bands classics I really enjoyed finding them include “Going To Brazil” and “In The Name Of Tragedy”. We were treated to a drum solo from Mikkey Dee and this gave Lemmy and Phil a chance to most likely take a swig of Jack Daniels before coming back onstage. After seeing this Motorhead lineup for a few tour go rounds I have to agree with Lemmy that it is probably the best that the band has ever been. I grew up loving the Fast Eddie and Philthy Animal stuff but Dee is a powerhouse drummer and Phil Campbell a perfect guitarist for this band. They are all in sync with each other and their tightness shows on song after song. The Motorhead set went rather quickly but that is because a number of their songs are short and they move fast as well. It was at the point of getting darker outside now and Heaven And Hell was getting ready to take the stage.
Motorhead Set List: Dr. Rock, Stay Clean, Be My Baby, Killers, Metropolis, Over The Top, In The Name Of Tragedy, Just ‘Cos You Got The Power, Going To Brazil, Killed By Death, Ace Of Spades, Overkill.
Heaven And Hell: What an incredible couple of years it has been for the guys who make up Black Sabbath Mark II, or as it has come to be known to the Metal masses – Heaven And Hell. What began with a compilation release of the Dio fronted Sabbath stuff led to an amazingly well-received tour and now after a number of headlining dates the guys were content to be the direct support for the legendary Judas Priest. The last time I caught the band they were performing with Alice Cooper and Queensryche and while that was an awesome time it didn’t compare to the debut shows at NYC’s Radio City Music Hall. Of course pairing them up with Judas Priest was a great idea because the two bands share an audience and by doing this were guaranteeing the performances being sold out quickly. H&H’s set tonight would feature most of the same tunes that I caught them performing at those shows in NYC and with Cooper, but of course being the main support also meant that the set would be just a couple of tunes shorter than those gigs. Having seen two shows with them as the main act I actually didn’t mind this time around. Dio sounded great tonight and was in full command of the audience as if this was a headlining show for the band anyway and Tony’s guitar crunched with the groove that reminded us why he is so acclaimed by the genres guitar playing demographic. As many of the fans who have caught them before know the band does stick to the material that was recorded on the Dio fronted albums and as result nothing comes from the Black Sabbath archive of tunes. I think for the most part the audience who watches them doesn’t care to hear them do songs like “Paranoid” or “War Pigs”, but Iommi has stated during interviews that since they recorded a live album together and did those tunes that such a premise for future gigs could find this happening. My hope is that they stick to just doing these tunes and whatever new material they might compose together because those other songs are done to death and would be best delivered by an Ozzy fronted Sabbath reunion if one should ever actually happen again. Highlights of the night were “Mob Rules” and “Sign Of The Southern Cross” as expected but I had to admit that with a shorter set that the Vinny Appice drum solo should have been crossed off the agenda. The other part that I found frustrating was the super extended version of ‘Heaven And Hell” which was loaded with audience participation on the “whoa-ohs”. A couple of times during a tunes beginning might be a great effect but when its done ad nausea it really holds back the enjoyment of it. I think they did this tune for about twenty minutes and while most of their tunes are on the long side we could have fit two other songs in this space instead of having this be so ponderous. After this tour it seems as though the guys will hit the recording studio to deliver another studio album. I am sure that this will lead to another headlining world tour and I admit to being very hopeful about the quality of songs we shall find on the recording. Now it was time for Judas Priest to take the stage and the roars of the crowd were almost deafening as the lights went down for the main attraction.
Judas Priest: Judas Priest released their first ever concept album this year with “Nostradamus”, a brave release for the band who had never done something of this kind in their thirty plus year career. Initially there was rumor about the band taking the whole release out on tour and leaving their encores for classics but lucky for us that would not be the case with Metal Masters shows. They opened up with a new number in “Prophecy” and this found Halford garbed in a silvery cloak that shined brightly under the massive lights of the stage. The setting of the stage was very dramatic as well and presented a giant visage of Nostradamus who seemed to be glaring at the audience as the band performed in front of him. The twin guitar masters K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton performed their moves in tandem and all around me I saw audience members playing their own air guitars. Halford disappeared beneath the stage after the first song and yet quickly emerged as the band launched into “Metal Gods”. He was now in his trademarked leathers and his voice cut the air proving he still deserves the title of Metal best vocalist. I had to say that the set list this time around was probably the most diverse of the most recent years and while there were numbers that I could have done without or would have swapped for others for the most part I was pleased with the bands choices. Let’s face it, they have far too many albums to put a set list together that will please everyone. It was great to hear “Eat Me Alive” from their “Defenders Of The Faith” album, but it would have been superb to find them pulling out “Freewheel Burning” or “Love Bites” once again. They went back and forth between albums and made sure to visit their last studio release “Angel Of Retribution” for that recordings ballad track “Angel” and while it was great to hear the not too often delivered “Dissident Agressor”, I leaned towards “The Green Manalishi With The Two Pronged Crown” as that one had always been a favorite of mine. There were some folks who felt that the set was uneven and others who really liked it because it was not too predictable and loaded with the songs that you hear at every single show. Halford had a number of wardrobe changes during the set and seems to own quite the varied selection of customized leather jackets and while his stage presence still dominates the crowd his stage banter has remained the same over the years. His intro for “Breaking The Law” still makes me cringe even though I love the tune and despite this Rob still manages to make the audience answer the most obvious question of “breaking the what???? and “let’s go break that law”…..
“Painkiller” is always a great choice of tune and by now it was clear that the night’s fun was almost at an end. Surprisingly the band did not focus their energies on the new album at all even though their stage décor was very prominent about it. “Hell Bent For Leather” would set the place on fire as Halford came out on the Harley Davidson bike and led the audience to victory from its seat. “Manalishi” was the second encore and a number that I mentioned earlier as being happy to see in the set and of course the rousing closer would be “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”. Of course I know this is part of his audience interaction shtick, but I really have gotten bored with the sing off that he with the crowd for several minutes before the tune actually begins and I think that this is based on the fact that the audience sings along almost endlessly during the main parts of the song as it is. In the end it comes out to an almost fifteen plus minute version which could have easily been cut to allow for another classic or two to be worked in. To each his own as while I might like that aspect of the show there are fans who I saw losing their mind at it.
In the end this was an amazing show barring one or two minor critiques which come from my seeing these bands so many times over the years. Of course I would have liked a longer Testament set and to see things worked out differently during Priest and H&H but it was still an amazing time and no one was leaving disappointed. There were a ton of Old School and New School rockers present this evening and while the older fans were bringing their kids or younger siblings along with them it seemed very clear that the music of these bands was easily crossing the generations. Everyone has some new albums to order for themselves to keep these bands in the media eye and remember that Priest is planning on taking their entire new release “Nostradamus” on the road in the near future. If the proper planning does into its presentation it should be something special to attend. Only time will tell and for those of you who can see into the future like the albums famous protagonist, well, just let us all see how this plays out.
Full Testament Photo Gallery:
Full Motorhead Photo Gallery:
Full Heaven and Hell Photo Gallery:
Full Judas Priest Photo Gallery: https://piercingmetal.com/judas-priest-live-photos-pnc-bank-arts-center-892008/
Heaven and Hell Set List:
2. The Mob Rules
3. Children Of The Sea
5. Sign Of The Southern Cross
6. Ear In The Wall
7. Vinny Appice Drum Solo
8. Time Machine
9. Falling off the Edge of the World
10. Tony Iommi Solo
11. Die Young
12. Heaven and Hell
Judas Priest Set List:
1. Dawn of Creation
3. Metal Gods
4. Eat Me Alive
5. Between The Hammer And The Anvil
6. Devil’s Child
7. Breaking The Law
8. Hell Patrol
9. Dissident Aggressor
11. The Hellion/Electric Eye
12. Rock Hard, Ride Free
14. Hell Bent For Leather
15. The Green Manalishi
16. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming