Paul Hebert

Judas Priest @ OC Fair / Pacific Amphitheatre 8/05/09

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The “Metal Gods” shown down on Costa Mesa on Wednesday night, as British rockers Judas Priest steamrolled into the Pacific Amphitheatre as part of the OC Fair’s Summer Concert Series.

The leather clad warriors are on tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their 1980 release “British Steel,” and playing the album in it’s entirety. The show opened with “Rapid Fire” which had front man Rob Halford firmly planted at the center of the stage hunched over the microphone stand growling out the lyrics with precision, while Guitarists. As the Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing mesmerized the crowd with their licks.

With the opening tracks to “Metal Gods” the band came out to the front of the stage and rocked the house. Halford paced the stage from left to right, stalking the crowd like a predator stalks his prey.

Playing an album front to back has become a trend for many of the older touring artists, Aerosmith with Toys in the Attic and Motley Crue with Dr. Feelgood. The concept is clever as it allows the show to be choreagraphed very well, which for older musicians is probably a good thing.

The show was amazing, but nothing shocking, which is a downside to playing an album in it’s entirety , you know what the album tracks and their order are going in, but the highlight Wednesday night came shortly after Halford exclaimed very matter of fact “well there you have it, Britist Steel.” The crowd responded with a wild roar and pumped their fists and horns into the air, before Halford excitedly informed them “But we aren’t done yet.”

With a 40 year history in the industry the band has an arsenal of hits to choose from, and they didn’t disappoint tonight playing a selection of favorites that went as back as their 1976 hit “The Ripper” from the “Sad Wings of Destiny” album.

Other highlights from the extended set included “Phrophecy” off their 2007 conceptual album “Nostradamus” and “Hell Patrol” off their 1990 release “Painkiller“.

The band bid the crowd a brief farewell, but as the lights on stage went dark, the die-hard fans knew what was coming next. In true fashion, the strobe lights started flickering as the crack of the engine firing rang throughout the amphitheatre. Halford revved his metal machine to a fury before rolling onto stage on his Harley Davidson to perform “Freewheel Burnin” off their 1984 release “Defenders of the Faith” before closing the night with a sing-along version of  “You’ve got another thing coming” off their 1982 release “Screaming for Vengence.

Judas Priest proved that their music has completely withstood the test of time and spans many generations. After 40 years Halford can still bellow and growl out the vocals with precision, his trademark screams are still spot on, not quite as high, but amazing none the less.

The “Metal Gods” will continue to shine down across future generations, as many young ones were present in the crowd, standing on their seats and rocking alongside their Dads.

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Eighties rock legend Whitesnake slithered through a hit filled show at the Pacific Amphitheatre last night. As part of the OC Fair’s 2009 Summer Concert Series, Whitesnake performed for close to 75 minutes which kept the crowd on their feet the entire night.

Thirty years belting out vocals has not been nice to front-man David Coverdale, as he had trouble hitting the high notes during many portions of the show. However the musicianship of the band was phenomenal. Guitarist Doug Aldrich performed an amazing and entertaining show, while Uriah Duffy drove the tempo with his driving bass lines.

Opening the show with a brief intro the band quickly broke into “Best Years” off their 2008 release, the first in over a decade, “Good to be bad.” This would be one of only two tracks, the other being “Lay Down Your Love” that were not from the 2 mega albums of the eighties.

Slide it in” released in 1984 quickly rose to a double platinum rating, while producing the hits “Slow an’ Easy” and “Love aint no stranger” both of which were performed last night. The band however spent a majority of their show performing songs from their 8x platinum 1987 selftitled album, which was just fine with the near capacity crowd in Costa Mesa.

The end of the show was power packed with sing along favorites “Cryin in the rain,” “Is this love?” and “Give me all your Love.” After some brief banter with the crowd, Coverdale and company rocked through their Number 1 hit “Here I go Again” before closing the show with “Still of the Night.”

Although Coverdale had challenges with not hitting the high-notes, they managed to put on one phenomenal show that had everyone singing and dancing in the aisles.

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Michigan rockers Pop Evil opened the show for Judas Priest and Whitesnake last night at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, as part of the OC Fair’s 2009 Summer Concert Series.

On tour to support their debut studio album “Lipstick on the Mirror” the band performed a powerful 40 minute set which definitely warmed up the early comers. Hitting the stage promptly at 6:30pm the michigan boys rocked the house playing most of the tracks off their new album.

Vocalists Leigh Kakaty and bassist Matt DiRito have the stage presence of seasoned veterans. While guitarists Tony Greve and Dave Grahs were entertaining to watch, they lacked a bit of showmanship which I am sure will mature with more time on the road.

Pop Evil will remain on the Judas Priest / Whitesnake tour for most of the remainder of August .

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