Concert Review: Deep Purple and Judas Priest at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts by Michael Martinez
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts rarely presents heavy metal concerts. When I saw the announcement for the co-headlining tour of Deep Purple and Judas Priest I was intrigued by the pairing of two legendary bands playing on the hallowed ground where Woodstock was held. As much as I love listening to new experimental and progressive metal, there is someting exciting about seeing classic metal performed by masters of the genre. Deep Purple delivered a solid set featuring many of their renowned hits as well as a few deep cuts. This night at Bethel Woods belonged to Judas Priest who delivered a powerful set featuring tracks from their amazing new album Firepower.
It was evident from the opening of their set with the title track from Firepower that the band and vocalist Rob Halford were in excellent form. Priest’s current line-up features Ian Hill (bass), Scott Travis (drums) and the two guitar attack of Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap. Sneap is filling in for Glenn Tipton who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The dual guitars which are a vital part of the Judas Priest sound were as glorious and exciting as previous tours which included Tipton. The band played four tracks from the new album Firepower. Firepower has received great reviews from music press and is being compaired to earlier Priest. The comparisons are accurate but the new album has an original sound and feel. Firepower is in my opinion one of the best metal albums of the year and proof the Halford and the band are still a vital force in metal. The set also included Priest classics such as “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” “Hell Bent For Leather,” “Breaking The Law,” and one of my all time favorite metal anthems “Living After Midnight.” The most thrilling part of the night was the title track from the album Painkiller where the band and Halford unleashed their thrash metal chops and delivered a blistering performance. During the encore Halford dedicated the song “No Surrender” to the memory of Sen. John McCain. It seemed an appropriate dedication from a man who himself is a rock and heavy metal hero.
Deep Purple followed Judas Priest and performed a set filled with classics including the opener “Highway Star,” “Strange Kind of Woman,” “Space Truckin’,” and “Smoke on the Water.” The band included legendary vocalist Ian Gillan, Gillan holds a special place in my heart for his work on the albums Machine Head, Made In Japan and the post-Ozzy Black Sabbath album, Born Again. Band members Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Don Airey and Steve Morse all performed with passion. Steve Morse is a brilliant guitarist and also currently records and tours with the great pop/rock supergroup Flying Colors. Although Purple couldn’t capture the same energy and power that Priest displayed, it was great to experience a band that has inspired and continues to inspire hard rock and heavy metal music.
For information on Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, go to: http://www.bethelwoodscenter.org