Hey man, don’t criticize the Black. – Bryan Rabeaux, Lafayette, Louisiana 1981
Saturday night, Chris and I headed out to the Woodlands to take in the spectacle that was the Metal Masters Tour. Headlined by Judas Priest and featuring Heaven & Hell (aka Black Sabbath the Dio Years), Motorhead and Testament, it promised to be a nice of head banging goodness.
This show was especially exciting for me because, somehow, during my head banging youth, I never managed to see Priest, Sabbath, Dio or Motorhead. Now, I had the opportunity knock them all out in one night!
We arrived early enough to allow Chris to buy a Priest t-shirt for his IT guy. Thanks IT guy for rebuilding the computer. Rock hard! Ride free!
After acquiring a couple of beers, we found a nice spot about mid-way up the hill in stage center. Then we prepared to rock!
Testament was the first band out. Recently reunited and, to paraphrase Chris, still thrashing like it was 1986. Its always odd to see a band like Testament on in the broad daylight. Clad all in black they got the crowd warmed up. The crowd was sparse, but the ones who were present were devoted. They complied each and every time they were told to get the horns in the air.
Once Testament was done with their abbreviated set, the crowd stared to fill up. We saw skinheads, middle-aged white guys, their wives, their kids and a whole variety of folks.
Apparently Latinos love the metal, because they made up a huge portion of our audience, especially the younger portion of the crowd.
I was also happy to see a few examples of the Tawny Kitaen school of Metal Girls in attendance. I was pretty sure they were extinct.
Motorhead hit the stage next to the delight of the ever enlarging crowd. Lemmy and Motorhead are like the heavy metal version of the Ramones. They come out and just play. They are supporting their new record, Motorizer, which came out last Tuesday. How they haven’t used that name for an album before is beyond me. It was an abbreviated set, but by the time they got to “Killed by Death,” Lemmy had the crowd eating out of his hand.
Another break and some more people watching.
I wasn’t at all suprised to see Iron Maiden’s Eddie at this show.
This guy lost huge metal points for his Bolton mullet and the fact that he was using a fan provided by the local 80s station (oddly the only one in attedance) to cool himself off. You sweat for the metal!
Up next was Heaven & Hell. This is, of course, the new stage name for the band formerly known as “Black Sabbath” (with Ronnie James Dio on vocals.) Whether you believe Tony Iommi’ explanation that he doesn’t use the Sabbath name for these tours because the original four members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or you think it is some dastardly plot by Sharon Osbourne, the fact remains that this is a classic heavy metal band. They stuck entirely to the four albums released by this lineup. There was no “Paranoid,” “War Pigs,” or “Iron Man.” Instead, we got amazing versions of “Mob Rules,” “Heaven and Hell,” “Falling of the Edge of the World,” and “Neon Knights” as an encore.
Ronnie James Dio has not lost a step. Hit Parader once described him as leather lunged. How very apt that description still is. Dio seemed to mumble a lot of his crowd interaction, but it didn’t really matter because he ruled the stage. Appice took a drum solo (what?) and Tony Iommi showed how he essentially created the metal genre with his solo.
Enjoy part of Heaven & Hell won’t you?
Then it was on to the evening’s headliners, Judas Priest. The Metal Gods are on the road in support of their new concept album “Nostradamus.” They opened with the title track.
We used to argue over which of Priest’s guitarists, Tipton or Downing, was better. After watching them tear up their respective axes all night, I still don’t know.
Rob Halford stalked the stage all night like a caged animal. Clad in various leathers, including his trademark hat and sunglasses for “Hellbent for Leather,” he remains the consumate metal front man. After 30+ years, he’s still showing everyone else how it should be done.
My main complaint was the seeming randomness of Priest’s set list. It was all over the place, with some glaring omissions. They ended with “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” with no encore.
My most pleasant surprise? They did “Grenn Manalishi with the Two-Pronged Crown.”
All in all it was a really good show and I’d like to thank all the bands involved for bringing the metal to the people. In this age of pre-fab non talents, its really great to see real bands who are willing to work night after night.
Get those horns up!