Coors Amphitheater, Denver, CO

June 29th, 2005

Beneath a beautiful Rocky Mountain sunset with a cool breeze from the west, the lights went up on the Coors Amphitheater stage. Though the sky was clear, electricity filled the air as a surge of static echoed through the speakers. The near-full to capacity crowd started their chants for Queensryche. Then there they were, guitarists Michael Wilton and Mike Stone, etching out the prelude to “The Whisper” a chilling number off 1986’s Rage for Order. Bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield joined in with as solid of a rhythm section as you’re going to hear.

Vocalist Geoff Tate was last to step into the spotlight, dressed in black with dark sunglasses covering his eyes. He stalked the stage allowing his perfectly trained operatic voice to carry the song to its astounding heights. The band dug deep into their catalog pulling most of the set from their first two records The Warning (1984) and Rage for Order (1986). Some of the songs may have seemed obscure, but hardcore fans were delighted to be transported back to the pre-Operation Mindcrime epic. It almost seemed as if the band were setting the stage for Mindcrime II by removing all other records from the shelf. So when Tate announced “I’m American” a newly penned composition from the eagerly anticipated OMII, the crowd went ballistic. (And rightly so as it was astonishing.)

QUEENSRYCHE’S set list: 1. The Whisper 2. En Force 3. Neue Regel
4. NM 156 5. Screaming In Digital 6. Open 7. Desert Dance 8. Queen Of The Reich/Nightrider Medley 9. Walk in the Shadows 10. The Needle Lies 11. I’m American 12. Surgical Strike 13. Empire 14. Take Hold of The Flame

Less than 30-minutes later you could hear the thunder of a motorcycle being revved up, what sounded like a loud explosion and twin guitars ringing in the “Hellion/Electric Eye medley. Judas Priest had arrived. A healthy Glenn Tipton and KK Downing synchronized their movements as the originators of metal stage antics. The audience was well on their feet as Halford returned to his rightful position as THE Metal God. What makes this tour so monumental is the reunion of Priest with the mighty Halford at the helm. Within seconds the band proved they were every bit the giants of sight and sound.

A large Priest logo hung center stage with metallic trusses ascending on both sides and smack in the middle sat drummer Scott Travis (ex-Racer X) bringing hyper-speed percussion to the wall of guitars. Unlike last year’s Ozzfest, this was their stage and they were going to use every inch. “Riding on the Wind”, “A Touch of Evil” and newcomers “Judas Rising” followed by “Revolution” laid the foundation to what would be a historic show.

After an ear-scorching “Breaking The Law” and “I’m A Rocker,” Halford introduces “Diamonds & Rust” the Joan Baez love-letter to Bob Dylan. His voice embraces every note as if it were his last and the emotion poured like the beads of sweat on his forehead. When Priest do this song it becomes epic, almost religious. “Beyond The Realms of Death” and “Turbo Lover” are dusted off and driven home giving both Tipton and Downing equal time to christen each with blazing solos.

“Hell Bent for Leather” opens up the encore with Halford’s traditional Harley entrance. The crowd is so loud he actually stops singing and lets them feed him the lines. With “Living after Midnight” up next, it felt like 1982 all over again. Even bassist Ian Hill got in the groove as the three guitarists clustered at the edge of the stage in full volume. Grown men wept as the band steered into “You’ve got Another Thing Comin’.” The crowd frantically tried to bring the Metal Gods back for one last song but the house lights went up and only the ringing of the amplifiers echoed in our heads.

JUDAS PRIEST’S set list: 1. Hellion/Electric Eye medley 2. Metal Gods 3. Riding on the Wind 4. A Touch of Evil 5. Judas Rising 6. Revolution 7. Breaking the Law 8. I’m A Rocker 9. Diamonds & Rust 10. Deal With The Devil 11. Beyond the Realms of Death 12. Turbo Lover 13. Hellrider 14. Victim of Changes 15. Exciter 16. Painkiller Encores: 1. Hell Bent For Leather 2. Living After Midnight 3. You’ve got Another Thing Comin’

Websites: Queensryche, Judas Priest

Live photos by Todd K Smith©2005