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Judas Priest and Anthrax in Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Friday, November 11, 2005 @ 7:10 AM


At The Corel Center

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Two of heavy metal's most anticipated band lineups, having been out of the public eye and away from Ottawa in their touring itinerary for too long, finally returned for a show here despite the lack of any real promotion for it and the stiff competition in terms of audience numbers against more well-known bands who had also been away from Ottawa even longer (U2 since 1985, the Rolling Stones for twice as long). Local classic rock station CHEZ 106 had tickets for the show to give away on a contest show called The Vault but the volume paled in comparison to the ones they gave away for U2 and the Stones. To be honest I don't think anyone even won Priest tickets from that said contest at all even though people won tickets for damn near every other band that was playing here this year. I was rarely at home half the time to phone in and try to win tickets despite damn near all of the DJ's e-mailing me the times and dates that I could phone in and win the tickets so in the end I pretty much threw in my luck with this one dude on the Ottawametal.com message boards who had 2 to give away since some of his friends couldn't make the show at the last minute. Thankfully I only had to pay for one since he was asking $100 for both but he scored perhaps the second-best seats to see the show on the ground level.

That resolved, the next problem was getting to the show itself since the show wasn't exactly a sell-out which meant that there wasn't as much chartered buses to ferry people to the Corel Center as there would be for a band that did sell the venue out so pretty much a lot of people including myself missed the last bus going directly to the show by mere minutes and didn't know about it.

I eventually made it to the show as well as a few other people in the same predicament when we caught the last chartered bus halfway to the venue just by sheer luck. Incidentally there wasn't a single tailgate party at the Corel Center's parking lot that night and while I personally blame American Hi-Fi and the Backstreet Boys for effectively exhuming the corpse of Heavy Metal Parking Lot and pissing all over it in their recent videos (especially with regards to the Backstreet Boys' "Just Want You To Know" video featuring the boy band members dressed up as 80's heavy metal fans and driving around in Camaros with New Jersey license plates - if I were Jackie Kay I'd be nothing short of nauseated and if I were Zakk Wylde I'd have been done engraving AJ and Howie's names on the bullets I'd be using on them by now after accidentally seeing this video), the venue security guards prohibit open alcohol outside of the building. Too bad, seeing as this October's been pretty warm in a few places this year.

Getting back to the show itself, it was evident that while it was Priest who took in the biggest draw mainly because of their name and the fact that they actually had a new studio album to promote, openers Anthrax were the band that started capturing the momentum of the crowd that night. Whether it was because most of the crowd missed out seeing them with Joey Belladonna in the 80's or they just simply didn't take to John Bush's admittedly more rangeful versions of the band's catalogue and newer material which lacked a certain something despite it being no fault of Bush himself for this Anthrax played like a band that weren't currently experiencing any fallout from the rotating line-up drama that seemed to be following it once this reunion was announced back in the spring. The chemistry and the spark that made them matter was running on capacity that night and Belladonna got the crowd riled up and singing along to every song. Even the lesser-known songs like "Medusa" sounded full of energy as if it had just been released last month.

I'd have to say that Anthrax in 2005 sounded like the Anthrax of old for nothing but the right reasons. And Belladonna has for the record stopped wearing the infamous headdress during "Indians" since it was becoming evident that the song itself was enough to get people aware of the plight of First Nations/indigenous people (that and, yeah, he did look ridiculous wearing it after all since it looked out of place on him). That's more than enough reasons for people to catch this band live when they can.

Setlist as follows and surprisingly in order:

1. "Among The Living"
2. "Got The Time"
3. "Caught In A Mosh"
4. "Antisocial"
5. "Efilnekufesin (NFL)"
6. "Indians"
7. "Madhouse"
8. "Medusa"
9. "I Am The Law"

Even Anthrax couldn't deny it themselves but the band that did keep the momentum going since they also said it themselves that the band to see was Judas Priest that night.

This being my first Priest show, I was in awe of the musicianship that night. I was also expecting lots of pyrotechnics as well but it seemed that the music spoke more volumes than lights and explosions could hope to do. That alone was cool. And it worked. With the songs and the history left to work with instead the band concentrated on and put on an awesome display of musicianship here.

Rob Halford's vocals were in good shape considering that he was rumored to have lost his voice onstage a few nights before in New Jersey but the songs never suffered once from it here. In fact he led the audience in a falsetto sing-along intro into "You've Got Another Thing Coming" (which was just singing the guitar intro to it) and sang parts of "Painkiller" even more aggressively than he did on the studio version but with a more death metal-type of growl to it. Another cool part of the show was the acoustic version of "Diamonds And Rust" that spawned from KK Downing and Glenn Tipton's acoustic guitar duet before it. Awesome. And wasn't "Turbo Lover" or indeed Turbo itself supposed to suck in the eyes of diehard Judas Priest fans? It didn't that night although I was never too big on the pink video from the 80's that followed it. In fact the only complaint about this performance was that it relied a bit too much on the signature songs that Priest are known for when it could've squeezed in some lesser-known gems like "Freewheel Burning", "Love Bites", "Cheater", "Troubleshooter" or "Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise" or at the very least take a cue from Aerosmith and let the fans vote on what songs/albums to play on this tour although I attributed this to the Corel Center's curfew and decided that it was out of the hands of either band anyway. On the other hand, the band did reconfirm their current status in hard rock by playing some material from Angel Of Retribution and the new material got an awesome reception, particularly "Worth Fighting For", "Judas Rising" and "Revolution" (actually those were the only songs off of Angel Of Retribution they played but they still rocked immensely).

When it comes down to it, I couldn't and didn't complain about the show at all. You have 2 legendary bands whose best-known lineups all but broke up for a decade or so only to discover that after a similar amount of time experimenting with new concepts they were always at their best with what they had in the first place and deciding to return with those lineups that made them famous in the first place and doing a hell of a good job at it. Both Judas Priest and Anthrax if anything earned more fans that night because of this regardless of how low-key the show promotion was and hopefully the crowd will make them want to return in the near future.

On a different note, CHEZ 106 DJ Jacki sounds so much like Diana DeVille on the air it's unreal.

On another note a belated thanks to Ottawametal.com regular Master Of Pain for selling me one of the 2 Priest tickets he wasn't able to use that night. That, and also for making me realize why everyone should listen to Bonfire.

And the show's promotion aside, this town knows how to rock.

Setlist also in order:

1. "The Hellion/Electric Eye"
2. "Metal Gods"
3. "Riding On The Wind"
4. "A Touch Of Evil"
5. "Breaking The Law"
6. "Judas Rising"
7. "Revolution"
8. "I'm A Rocker"
9. "Worth Fighting For"
10. "Beyond The Realms Of Death"
11. "Turbo Lover"
12. "Hellrider"
13. "Diamonds & Rust (acoustic)"
14. "Victim Of Changes"
15. "Painkiller"

Encore:

16. "Hellbent For Leather"
17. "Living After Midnight"
18. "You've Got Another Thing Coming"


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