Much like Judas Priest themselves, I am never satisfied. No matter how comprehensive a live album is, every time I want more. There are always a few additional songs that I wish the band had played. And when we’re talking about legends who have been defending the Metal faith for over four decades… well, it’s more than just a few. I’m going to resist the urge to make a vast list, because it would include nearly every JP song ever written, and at two-hours-and-twenty-minutes this is already one of the longest concerts I’ve ever heard of and features at least one song from every Halford-era album, so pointing out more than just a couple omissions seems like a total dick move. That said, I was a little surprised to not hear “The Ripper,” “Exciter,” “Screaming for Vengeance,” or “Defenders of the Faith.” But how long has it been since we’ve gotten “Starbreaker” live? It’s here, and the band goes absolutely all-out for it, as they do on every song. This version of “Diamonds and Rust,” for example, is utterly amazing, and a stand out in an ocean of solid gold. The band’s energy was, at times, beyond my ability to describe. Halford, especially, seemed to be holding absolutely nothing back and occasionally appeared determined to give more than he was able. The man is in his early 60s, and had to use a cane during parts of the show. I read somewhere that he was confined to a wheelchair for a while after this concert because he injured his (apparently already hurt) back contorting himself to reach the notes he needed. So, I am not going to give him a hard time about letting the crowd completely take over literally all the vocals for “Breaking the Law,” about two-thirds of the way into this marathon set. I’m sure that it comes off much cooler to be there live for something like that, but to just sit here and watch five thousand people singing was the only time I wasn’t completely enthralled. “Painkiller” followed, and was the final song before the encores. That may be an especially demanding one to sing, because Halford sounded exhausted and looked to be in pain for the duration. The momentary rest while the crowd chanted for more seemed to reenergize him, and he came back stronger than ever. Over the course of the night, Halford even unleashed a couple Death Metal style growls, the director humorously cutting to bassist Ian Hill looking surprised for one of them. New guitarist Richie Faulkner did a fine job of being as much like K.K. Downing as possible, and I think fit right in. No one can really replace K.K., but as I watched this, I didn’t miss him as much as I thought I would. The video and audio quality are, as one would expect, phenomenal. This may be the best looking (I watched it on Blu-ray in glorious 1080p) and sounding concert video of all time, although it is lacking special features in that it has none. I would have really enjoyed an interview, or… something. I’ve gotten used to there being additions to the live performance on these things, and the omission here is notable, but Epitaph is easily still one for the vaults.
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