At the Think Tank, Newcastle, U.K., June 1, 2017

TIM "RIPPER" OWENS (Live at the Think Tank, Newcastle, U.K., June 1, 2017)
Photo: Mick Burgess

What actor would you have playing your life in a movie is a question that many have pondered. For Tim “Ripper” Owens this conundrum became a reality when Mark Wahlberg played the lead role alongside Jennifer Aniston in the movie Rockstar, a fictional tale based loosely on Owens meteoric rise from singing in a local cover band to fronting Metal legends Judas Priest after the departure of iconic lead singer Rob Halford back in 1992. It is indeed an incredible story and one which has opened numerous doors since then as Owens would go on to have an impressive career with Iced Earth, Beyond Fear, Yngwie Malmsteen and Charred Walls of the Damned amongst others.

It is arguably his stint in Priest stretching from 1996 to 2003 that has garnered most attention producing two studio and two live albums in the process. In his first solo tour of the UK Owens promised a set rammed full of material from his tenure in Priest mixed in with a few early classics that he sang with the band.

True to his word Owens opened up with a punishing Jugulator, the title track to his first release with Priest and the first thing that is evident is how well Owen’s voice has held up since the album was first released packing the same power and sky-scraping range that he had almost 20 years ago.

With Blood Stained from the same album following in quick succession, the brutality of that release took many fans by surprise. Having said that, Priest never made the same album twice and Jugulator was their answer to the new breed of hard hitting hungry young guns coming through in the mid 1990s and more than proved that they could match any one of the new pretenders to their Metal throne.

Owens also dipped into the Halford-era Priest material with the evergreen Metal Gods, The Sentinel and biker anthem Hell Bent For Leather all keeping the Think Tank on the boil.

Owens spent time bantering with the crowd dropping not so subtle hints for a nice cold beer and his wish was duly obliged as ballad Lost and Found eased the temperature momentarily before a pounding Grammy nominated Bullet Train hit with the force of a freight train.

His backing band featuring members of Sandstone, was hugely impressive and the riffs of Stevie McLaughlin and Dee Kivlehan more than matched Priest originals, Tipton and Downing in full flight and certainly marked Sandstone as a band for further investigation.

Heading into the final straight Owens delivered the anthemic United followed by two of Priest’s heaviest moments Burn In Hell and an apocalyptic Painkiller where drummer Eamonn McNaught’s legs must have been literally dropping off following some lightning double bass drum work. Owens was outstanding. Painkiller is an absolute killer to sing but Owen’s handled it with ease more than justifying Priests choice in bringing him into the band.

Owen’s was clearly enamoured with the Geordie crowd and the unplanned Green Manalishi and a beautiful, Diamonds and Rust were quickly added to the set in acknowledgement for the enthusiastic response.

Eschewing the usual encore niceties by remaining on stage for Electric Eye and the hit single Living After Midnight, which saw support band Neuronspoiler join Owens on a rather cramped stage, bringing a rather light hearted party feel to the night which also saw Kivlehan take over drum duties after spending the first half of the song in the crowd pumping his fist with the fans.

All was not over however as the titanic riff of One on One from the Demolition album cranked into gear and showed how many great songs the Owens era of Priest produced.

It may be 15 years or so since Owens departed Priest but he certainly made his mark during his time in the band and tonight was a celebration of those years. Whilst it’s always nice to look back it’s also good to look forward too and with tasty, impending projects with Dave Ellefson from Megadeth and Chris Caffery from Savatage show there’s certainly plenty of fire left in him.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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