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Live Photos + Review: Judas Priest, Halestorm – Spark Arena, Auckland

Live Photos + Review: Judas Priest, Halestorm – Spark Arena, Auckland

Photography by Ngamihi Pawa / Review by Ian Craig Brown / Sunday 17th March, 2019 12:57PM

When a band has eighteen studio albums, selecting an hour and a half long setlist must be pretty daunting. How many songs from the new album that you’re excited about versus how many of the hits that so many have come to see? Veteran metal gods Judas Priest have the ratio pretty down pat. Songs from their latest album Firepower were loaded pretty strongly into the beginning of the set, keeping the fans waiting for the classics like 'Turbo Lover', 'Freewheel Burning', or 'You’ve Got Another Thing Coming'. It wasn’t until the encore that they played pulled out 'Breaking the Law' and 'Living After Midnight'. I was also pretty excited that a few of my favourite slightly deeper cuts like 'The Ripper' and 'Painkiller' found their way into the set.

The whole show was a whirlwind of energy and charisma. The sixty seven year old vocalist Rob Halford hit every note like he was a third his age. He even gives the rest of the band a break with a Freddie Mercury-like game of call and response with the crowd, working his way through his impressive vocal range. There were a few times in a lot of the more well-known songs he directed the mic out to the audience for the choruses. I’m unsure if this was for him to catch his breath (did I mention he’s sixty-seven?) or to work up the audience. Either way, it sent the crowd into a furore.

The rest of the band moved like a well-oiled machine, synchronised guitar moves and drumstick tosses abound. The only moment that seemed out of place was when Halford disappeared from the stage mid-song only to reappear with a glowing lightsaber. For the life of me, I can’t explain it and I really hope that someone can.

A few songs before the encore, Halford rode out on his trademark Harley Davidson for the classic 'Hell Bent For Leather'. The bike’s been a staple on their tours for decades and I’m glad I finally got to see it in all its metal glory. I need to mention another staple of a Judas Priest show. The leather. So much glorious leather. Over the course of the nineteen songs they played, Halford came out in eleven custom designed leather jackets, ELEVEN. Each one was more fantastic and wild than the one before.

Amongst the breakneck pace of the show, there were also some touching moments. During a few songs over the course of the night, footage of guitarist Glenn Tipton was projected behind the band. Tipton recorded on their most recent album but in 2018 announced his battle with Parkinson's disease and no longer tours. Some of the merchandise was branded with the bold words No Surrender and the image of Tipton on a motorcycle. The proceeds of the shirts all being donated to his Parkinson’s charity.

The other touching moment came during the song 'Rising From the Ruins' when the words Kia Kaha were projected above the stage. I’m not sure if this was in response to the terrible atrocities in Christchurch on Friday but for myself and those around me, the words really seemed to hit home. The band paused for a moment while the crowd rallied behind the sentiment before resuming their lightning-fast pace.

Near the beginning of the show, a homemade flag was hoisted above the crowd that read ROB IS GOD. I couldn’t have been more impressed with the show, but as he himself told the fans with his final words of the night, they are “JUDAS FUCKING PRIEST”.

Click on the thumbnails below to view a gallery of Ngamihi Pawa's snaps of Saturday's event...


Judas Priest
Judas Priest
Judas Priest
Judas Priest
Judas Priest
Judas Priest

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Links
judaspriest.com/
facebook.com/halestormrocks/
facebook.com/ngamihiphotography/
facebook.com/dadjokesband/

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