In Oslo Spektrum, Oslo, Norway, June 14, 2011

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

All photos by Karolina E. Piwko

Judas Priest’s Epitaph Tour is the most anticipated tour they’ve had in a long time. After the end of this tour, the future of the band will involve recording studio time and performing one-off live gigs only. So, since this is the last chance for many to see them live, the anticipation was high beforehand, and the Priest did not disappoint.

After the crew completed rigging the stage, Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” sounded from the speakers. After a short while, the sounds shifted to “Battle Hymn”, and the band entered the stage. “Rapid Fire” kicked off the show and perhaps wasn’t the best choice to serve as a hard-hitting opener, and the crowd didn’t seem to go nuts either. After a slow start, they picked things up with “Metal Gods.” There was more energy from the band during this one as well, and singer Rob Halford even did the robot walk during the song. One might say that in retrospect it looked a bit juvenile, but it was the right thing at the right time when he did it. It suited the song’s energy, and that’s what counts, isn’t it? Despite a few technical difficulties at the beginning of the show, the band owned the venue and whatever grudges the crowd held against the sound engineers quickly disappeared.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

There’s been a lot of talk about founding member K. K. Downing’s decision to leave the band right before the Tour, and also about his replacement Richie Faulkner (Lauren Harris, Dirty Deeds). Some criticism towards Faulkner has been uttered, but this criticism must be rooted in nostalgia and nothing else because Faulkner has the style and the skills to play in the band. He didn’t come off as a show-off, but rather fit the band and was definitely an equal part of Judas Priest. He was also the most energetic one onstage. Watch out for this guy; he handles the fiddle like a true guitar god. Especially great was the acoustic guitar solo on the intro to “Diamonds & Rust,” and his solo spot on “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.” This guy is a true find, so fans should hope he hits the road a lot in the future despite Priest’s lack of touring interest.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

Halford announced after a couple of songs that they would play something from every album of their career, but the two albums that featured the vocal performance of Tim “Ripper” Owens were apparently excluded from their career. However, much appreciated songs of the heavier kind like “Judas Rising” off their reunion album Angel of Retribution, “The Sentinel,” off Defenders Of The Faith, and of course “Painkiller” from the album with the same name, were just as welcome among the crowd.

The most impressive performances of the evening had to have been “Victim Of Changes,” “Painkiller,” “Blood Red Skies,” and “Diamonds & Rust.” “Victim Of Changes” is a long song with many different parts and has a great, catchy groove all the way … the band was dead tight and one would think that the guitarists Faulkner and Glenn Tipton have played together since forever. The rhythm section, with a drum stick juggling Scott Travis and bass player Ian Hill, was always spot-on and laid a great foundation for the band. “Painkiller” was also performed with great ease and it was great to hear that Halford still can sing his ass off like the good old days. He even growled in one place instead of screaming. “Blood Red Skies,” off 1988’s Ram It Down, has never been played live by the Priest before this tour. It’s different from their other songs as it’s a bit laid back, and the crowd seemed to appreciate the diversity. The song even had Halford dancing and doing pirouettes. “Diamonds & Rust” started with an acoustic guitar intro/solo courtesy of Faulkner, but got really heavy after the first chorus. It’s really nice to hear that the guys can experiment and approach their songs in different ways 42 years after they started.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

The band members don’t move around a lot onstage. Hill seems to be chained to his position a bit behind Tipton, Faulkner, and Halford, and while Halford walks around, he’s not half as energetic as newcomer Faulkner. This didn’t seem to affect the crowd, and Halford had a good connection with them all the way through the set. When it was time to play a song off Rocka Rolla, he introduced “Never Satisfied” in the following way:

– We chose to go for the one with the Birmingham riff … the Birmingham riffage, as we like to call it.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

The encore opened in the usual way with “The Hellion/Electric Eye,” and before playing “Hell Bent for Leather,” Halford drove onstage on his Harley sporting a Norwegian flag. There’s no Judas Priest show without the bike. “You Got Another Thing Comin'” was as good as ever and even had a mind-blowing solo spot from Faulkner. The last song for the night was “Living After Midnight,” where Halford switched the lyrics in the beginning to “I took Oslo ’bout one A.M., loaded, loaded.”

It’s a shame that a band that has existed for 42 years, and still can put on a show that easily blows today’s Rockstars off stage without much effort, is retiring from the road. The show they delivered on this tour is top notch with a great sounding Rob Halford, lasers, pyrotechnics, and great attitude. There aren’t many bands like Judas Priest left, so if you get the opportunity to see them on this tour, make sure you do — it’s your last chance!

Setlist: Battle Hymn (tape) / Rapid Fire / Metal Gods / Heading Out To The Highway / Judas Rising / Starbreaker / Victim Of Changes / Never Satisfied / Diamonds & Rust (first half acoustic) / Dawn of Creation (tape) / Prophecy / Night Crawler / Turbo Lover / Beyond The Realms Of Death / The Sentinel / Blood Red Skies / The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown) / Breaking The Law / Painkiller

Encore: The Hellion (tape) / Electric Eye / Hell Bent For Leather / You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ / Living After Midnight


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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