It was a clash of rock styles at Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre on Monday, August 27 when metal legends Judas Priest teamed up with classic rockers Deep Purple for a rock double-bill for the ages – of the ages.
Age actually wasn’t an issue at this show even though the average lineage of the founding members of Priest is the mid-to-late 60s and it jumps up to early 70s for Purple band members. Those numbers stopped no one from having a good time and it had little effect on the performance – especially with Judas Priest.
It’s hard not to treat a night like this as a competition. Two legacy bands. One Battle.
On one hand there’s metal gods Judas Priest who are out celebrating the release of their red hot 18th studio album Firepower and on the other is Deep Purple who are out supporting their 20th studio album Infinite. Based on sales and chart action of the new albums, Judas Priest outclasses Purple by a landslide. Firepower is Priest’s highest-charting album in the US and the band sounds modern and edgy.
In terms of visual performance, Priest comes out ahead again. The show was loaded with lights and props, as well as leather costumes and several wardrobe changes by frontman Rob Halford. Purple stripped the stage bare and performed under mostly dark (or I should say deep) shades of purples.
On the musicianship side, the members of Deep Purple win out, especially keyboardist Don Airey who extended his parts during hits like Knocking At Your Back Door and Perfect Strangers. It’s hard to throw metal shredders like Richie Faulkner against a bluesman like Steve Morse, but blues usually wins the day in most cases.
In the vocal department, the years have been a lot kinder to Rob Halford. The Priest singer can still belt out the high notes in songs like Painkiller and there were no signs of him slowing down. Purple’s Ian Gillan is showing his age a little and his vocals lacked the punch needed to keep the aging rock songs fresh.
When it comes to reputation, Deep Purple has more hits than their Judas Priest counterparts, but judging by the number of t-shirts, head bashing and fist-pumps, the majority of the crowd was there for Judas Priest.
It was a badge of honour to catch Deep Purple in concert, but I had much more fun bouncing to Judas Priest and it’s a bit of a shame that the metal band didn’t close the show. Priest felt like a band that was excited to be there, proud to showcase their new album and performing like they’ve still got something to say. Deep Purple, on the other hand, felt much like the title of their tour “The Long Goodbye”.
Openers The Temperance Movement were exciting. The songs were catchy and lead singer Phil Campbell had a bit of Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury in his stage actions. The British blues rockers are a band to watch for.
Judas Priest’s set list:
Delivering the Goods
Rising From Ruins
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Hell Bent for Leather
Breaking the Law
Living After Midnight
Deep Purple’s set list:
Pictures of Home
Strange Kind of Woman
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
Knocking at Your Back Door
Smoke on the Water