Judas Priest, Uriah Heep hit CN Centre tonight
If you never thought Judas Priest would ever perform in Prince George, well you’ve got another think comin’.
In an age when the music term “metal” could easily mean glam-posing juveniles with a drum kit, or endless high-speed fret scales to prove your manhood, there was also Judas Priest.
The shredders loved Judas Priest, the glammers loved Judas Priest and the band cut no corners to get that reputation. They were authentic and uncompromising. They occupied a rare space with the likes of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Motorhead – bands that hit hard, hit fast, and didn’t really care what you called them.
The guitars wailed, the drums thundered and Rob Halford’s vocals would lead them to legend status. With a touch of British punk propelling them, and the amps turned up to 11, they were Breaking The Law starting in 1969 and they are still Screaming For Vengeance brandishing their spikes and leather.
The band got record deals and Rolling Stone reviews throughout the 1970s, but it was the 1980s when they struck superstar chords. The album British Steel solidified their position at the top of the charts and the headliner marquees. Metal was a polarizing genre in those days, it was relatively new, it was the bane of censorship movements, but there was Judas Priest called into action for the Live Aid event and pioneering the advent of MTV. They were mainstream, even if it hurt the mainstream’s ears to admit it. They might represent a Touch Of Evil, but they were also our Turbo Lover.
They even won a Grammy Award, and guess when that happened: 2010. Yup, even after Halford left the band (he’s back now) for years on end, they were still charging around the world fueled by the roars of crowds and motorcycle engines. Judas Priest transcended a single song or a single era and became iconic - the poster-band for studded bracelets, Harley Davidsons, walls of guitar and nearly operatic signing.
They have launched six live albums out into the world because it’s in concert where this power klatch really established their whips and chains dominance.
The same year Judas Priest was formed, England also birthed another metal monster. Even more uncompromising was hardedged Uriah Heep, pumping out 25 studio albums and 13 live packages since then.
They were the ones who brought the avant-garde to the heavy metal party. If anyone ever doubted the musical abilities of this genre, Uriah Heep gave them a slap across the ears. They did concept songs, had a spine-jangling jazz mentality and took hold of the fantasy-fiction metal fan.
Songs like Lady In Black, The Wizard, Sweet Lorraine and Sympathy all got solid traction in mainstream culture. They had no fear of acoustic elements, dense lyrics and, like Judas Priest, they were founded on technically strong vocals.
They also had a streak of organ-driven hard southern rock to them that opened them up to the same crowd that was into early Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, or later on The Black Crowes.
A good example of that was their anthem Stealin’ (When I Should Have Been Buying) or Easy Livin’.
This is a night for fists in the air, leather and denim in any configuration and restoring your energy in the fight against conformity.
Just bring earplugs. Seriously.
CN Centre ignites for these two seminal metal bands tonight. Get tickets online at www.ticketsnorth.ca or charge by phone 1-888-293-6613 or in person at the CN Centre box office.
Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford performs at Knotfest USA at San Manuel Amphitheater in 2015, in San Bernardino, Calif. Judas Priest will be headlining a show at CN Centre on Friday.