Sunday, June 5, 2005

Telemundo Free

It’s moving day, which means that the landlord had to provide me with the same soundtrack as to when I originally moved in: Candlebox. I can’t think of a time in which I actually looked forward to moving. For those of you that thought their only hit “Far Behind” was left far behind in your memory, please stop by and visit him after I’m gone. You’ll discover that it can be 1993, or whenever that piece of shit song was released, and that people with shitty taste in music are still among us. To further prove my point, he’s now listening to the new Rob Thomas album before tucking his selfish, materialistic, egotistical, alcoholic, narrow minded and weak ass off to bed. Night night, for the last time, fuckface.
It's my Mother's birthday...And her birthday card was returned with not enough postage. I buy a card, I put a stamp on it, I put it in the mailbox. How hard is that shit? I have no idea why the thing was returned; it's not like the card was huge. I guess it was a different size and that required someone to actually put it in the sorter by hand. They now want an additional twelve cents to mail it, meanwhile, my Mother won't receive it until after her birthday. My Grandfather worked for the post office. He did the route with his fucking dog in the car, so it's not like those fuckers are working too hard. He also had a guy pull out the odometer cable of his Chevy Citation. He put a lot of miles on his car delivering the mail everyday and he didn't want the warranty on the Citation to run out so quickly. This example of a letter carrier's "honesty" should make you feel real good the next time you find your Hustler arrives ripped and sticky.
By the way, I’ll be without internet for a while so this blog is taking a short rest until I can scrounge up a high speed ISP that will at least wait for the wink before they fuck me in the ass. A pictorial of that event will be featured in next month's Club International, which was my favorite dirty mag back in high school. I guess they've come a long way now since most of 'em feature full on buttfucking rather than the flaccid pretend shit they had when I was growing up. These kids today don't know how good they've got it...

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Judas Fucking Priest

Judas Priest Live Review
Tweeter Center Chicago, IL 6/3/05

Isn’t there anything more Tap-ish than a group of 50+ guys playing heavy metal music years after their prime? Not really. And in this day of “let’s reunite, go on tour and make a buttload of money” mentality, it would be easy to put a Judas Priest reunion in the same category as Van Halen or Motley Crue. Unlike those two bands, the Priest actually put out an album of new material this year, which made a reunion tour a little bit easier to swallow. Honestly though, the album “Angel Of Retribution” is not a return to classic Priest form and doesn’t take away from the fact that just a few years ago Judas Priest were playing small venues with Rob Halford sound-alike Ripper Owens after Rob left the band over a decade ago. He may have felt that the Priest had run its course and that the members, firmly planted in obvious middle age, were quickly becoming heavy metal caricatures that would soon reach a point where statements like “I told them to put ‘Judas Priest’ before ‘Puppet Show’ on the marquee!” would be commonplace. With this in mind, blended with my own cynicism, I really didn’t know what to expect from Judas Priest when I saw them on Friday night in Chicago.

After all, the band is over 30 years old and considering the music they perform and the fact that age must assuredly take its toll on a singer notorious for octave antics and general high-pitched screaming. The reality was, this band laid waste to their Chicago faithful and reclaimed their rightful role as the World’s best heavy metal band in the arena today…Just as they were twenty years ago with the release of “Screaming For Vengeance.”
My cousin and I missed opening act Queensryche, but what we gained instead was a glimpse at how far Judas Priest fans have come in twenty years. The answer, of course, is not very far. Black t-shirts filled the $7.75 for a cup of beer lines, some with the most retarded of advertisements (Slipknot), some with the most obscure (a lone Uriah Heep shirt that actually got a bit of attention from passers by), and some with the obvious (Iron Maiden). A few actually dug out their authentic tees to demonstrate their loyalty, but most were obvious retro-minded reprints of albums from decades before. Besides, many of those in attendance couldn’t possibly fit into those shirts they originally bought when they attended a Priest show during their heyday.
The concert goers were primarily male and, not surprisingly, between the ages of 30-50. The women that did brave the sea of the heavy metal parking lot futilely attempted to mask their size/age with, surprise, the exact same fashions that they wore when they were 21 and a size 4. It was not a pretty sight, and I’m not even talking about the ladies.
Heavy metal isn’t exactly known for its fashion sense or I.Q., but what it is known for is lyrics on the north side of juvenile and sound levels that keeps Beltone in business. Even after 32 years of doing it, Priest demonstrated their contributions both tinnitus and speaking in a language that even a baked 14 year old could understand. It doesn’t take a G.E.D. to know that “Up here in space/I’m looking down on you” is probably about a spy satellite, or at the very least, a big ass robot floating up in the sky checking out the titties on Earth.

With the opening (taped) intro to “Electric Eye,” Rob Halford triumphantly entered the stage in the iris of, you guessed it, a big electric eye. He took his own sweet time in that thing, and when he finally headed downstage during “Metal Gods,” he did it slow and methodically like, you guessed it, a big robot. This caused the 40 year old man in a headband directly in front of me to absolutely lose control. He began to jump up and down, scream, and remember the words “from techno seeds we first planted” in perfect unison with Rob Halford. Then he ran past security and got to the front of the stage. Security then escorted him back to his seat. I guess that was enough for him, because by the fourth song, the forty-something was pretty much tapped out and sat on the back of his seat only to occasionally take a drag off of his one-hitter and make devil horns during a guitar solo or high Halford scream. Clearly, this headbanger’s endurance was not the same as it was during Priest’s “Turbo” tour.
But Halford’s endurance was in top shape, as was his voice. Throughout the show, Rob Halford seemed to be on a mission to prove to anyone that his voice has not diminished at all and to prove to men half his age that he can destroy them with his larynx. To prove his point, Halford took the obligatory audience call and response a step further: In addition to having the audience sing the choruses to Priest’s biggest hits, he schooled them on vocal scales and holding notes for thirty seconds at a time. The crowd attempted to keep up, albeit a little off-key, serving as proof how obedient metal fans can be even in the face of impossible expectations.
This is why “Breaking The Law” could be the most fitting song in Judas Priest’s extensive catalog. The story of a downtrodden man who, after reaching the end of his rope, decides to pursue a life of crime to survive while informing the listener that if they were faced with the same circumstances that they’d be “doin’ the same thing too.” I’m almost positive that nearly half of the crowd at the Tweeter Center faced a similar situation at one point in their lives, which may be why the line “You don’t know what it’s like!” rose above the band’s own amplification when Rob pointed his microphone towards them at the end of the song’s bridge.
Glen Tipton, in my mind a grossly underrated guitarist, completed more than half of the band’s guitar solos and proved to be their knockout punch. Lightening fast and breathtakingly versatile for his genre, Tipton should be cited in the same breath as Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes, and Dimebag. He isn’t and perhaps he would be if the band hadn’t decided to have him share lead guitarist duties with comrade K.K. Downing.
While K.K. is good, and may have been my favorite Priest guitarist as a teenager, he doesn’t possess the same tonal nuances as his counterpart. Twenty years have made me wiser; Glen Tipton is now my favorite Judas Priest guitar player and his soloing in Chicago has earned my utmost respect.
As mediocre as “Angel Of Retribution” is, the band brought three songs from the new album to the stage and demonstrated that this material is better served in a live setting. Every member seemed intent on making sure these songs were just as well received as their classics, and they succeeded. Had I not heard the album before, their live renditions of it may have prompted me to automatically purchase it after the performance, which is exactly the intention. After selling over 50,000 copies in its first week and charting in the U.S. Top 20 before quickly falling off, the band needs to get this album into the hands of fans who haven’t bought a Priest album since Halford was in the band 15 years ago. They should have no problem if they continue to replicate it on stage with the same intensity as they did on day three of their month long U.S. tour.
A man from the lawn seats snuck past security and landed directly in the row in front of me. Like a moth to the flame, he had to be a little closer to the Priest. And to show his appreciation for letting the real seat owners allow him to hang out with them, he lit up a joint and shared it with those around him. The weed took effect during “Victim Of Changes,” a classic track from their “Sad Wings Of Destiny” album and certainly the show’s standout performance. Halford reached inside and pulled out another impressive vocal workout while Tipton delivered the night’s most memorable guitar solo. The seat crasher gave us all high fives throughout the song, acknowledging its greatness. He then shook our hands and retreated back to the cheap seats. I can’t imagine this example of community at a Slayer show, or fuck, even at a performance by some Nu-metal band. This is the kind of bond that comes from a tenured “heavy metal maniac” and a demonstration of what a heavy metal concert should be.

A long haired Mexican then joined our group, again, another metal refugee who made the slip past security. He spoke little English, but he was glad to be with us and showed his appreciation by high-fiving everyone around him and putting his arm around my cousin while singing broken English song lyrics into his ear. He grabbed my arm and screamed “I’m your turbo lover!” before clarifying that he didn’t really want to be my turbo lover and that his English was not too good. Another high five acknowledged our mutual heterosexuality as did his attempts of trying to get lucky with a very rode hard/put away wet women in her mid 30’s. A few songs later, they were gone too.
The uber-aggressive “Painkiller” ended the set and Rob Halford was now going on 90 minutes without fail. To put this in proper perspective, I would ask that you look at another rock band with notable longevity: the Rolling Stones. 32 years into their career, they were doing “Bridges To Babylon” and everyone was declaring how energetic they were during the subsequent tour. It’s now 32 years into Judas Priest’s career, and they’re performing a song like “Painkiller” at breakneck speed, at deafening volume, and at the fucking end of their setlist. Unbelievable.
Without much of a breath, the sound of a Harley-Davidson signaled the start of the three song encore. Rob drove it out on the stage in his fourth leather jacket and revved the engine to get the band started on “Hell Bent For Leather.” While the lights were dim, a sneaky bastard in a Black Sabbath t-shirt made his way to the row directly behind us, but not before catching the electric eye of a female security team member. Oblivious to their requests for him to return to his proper seat, the man began to shake his fist at the stage like a man, well, hell bent I guess. A fourth security personnel came and the man finally obliged, only to return to the same location as soon as the security people left to hassle someone else. He yelled “What the fuck?!” and I turned to offer him a handshake to support his efforts of breaking the law. The same female security guard noticed he had returned and commenced to further headbanging. She approached again and then signaled for someone beefier to assist her in removing him. He tried to bribe her with money, but when it became clear that she would not leave him alone, he did the most impressive thing: he ignored her completely. No matter how loud she yelled at him, no matter how long she pointed her flashlight in his eyes, he was glued to the stage and he concentrated only on one thing: the music of Judas Priest. It was the most impressive example of tunnel vision I have ever witnessed. And it was executed by a thirty something white man who clearly knew better. He then did what any man in his situation would do: he tried to get even closer to the stage. With four security staff members following him, he made his way seven rows up and continued to ignore them. By the time the last song, “You Got Another Thing Comin’” hit, the security team had given up and they let him stay in the seat that wasn’t his. The power of heavy metal exemplified.
The band joined together for a triumphant bow and with the stage lights on for the road crew to start on the load out, the crowd initially refused to leave their seats. They chanted “Priest! Priest! Priest!” and began to bang on the seats. In my haze of $7.75 beers and community pot smoking, I joined them. What is so clearly lacking by today’s metal bands was brought home by Judas Priest on that night. Heavy metal is about joining together for a few beers, a few joints, and a whole lotta devil horns. It’s about getting down to the most basic level and just getting stupid. The irony is sometimes a little deeper. While a lot of Nu Metal bands may whine, bitch, and perform about the lack of a father figure, it took a veteran metal act to demonstrate that we can also just forget about that shit and hang out like guys and help another man up if he’s had too much to drink, misplaced his cigarettes, or gets lost in the parking lot on the way to the car. “Out there is a fortune waiting to be had” sang Halford on the last song, and for a brief moment in Chicago we believed him. We deal with reality every day, and Judas Priest may be the only heavy metal band around today that understands what metal music can do. Not only can it reflect the anger of our plight, but it can also cauterize it. For two hours, Priest destroyed our reality and had us believing in cartoon characters, motorcycles, and rocking ‘til the dawn. It’s no stretch to say that those two hours have provided me with a lifetime worth of memories. That, my friends, is the true power of rock and roll.

The Hellion/Electric Eye
Metal Gods
Riding On The Wind
A Touch Of Evil
Judas Rising
Breaking The Law
I'm A Rocker
Diamonds And Rust
Deal With The Devi
lBeyond The Realms Of Death
Turbo Lover
Victim Of Changes
Hell Bent For Leather
Living After Midnight
You've Got Another Thing Comin'