For those of you that don’t know, I’ve put all of my podcasts and websites aside due to the birth of my first child. As a result I did not count on seeing any shows, much less reviewing any shows for quite some time. That was till I mentioned to my wife that Judas Priest, Motorhead, and Saxon where playing the Bilbao Expo Center (roughly an hour away from me) on Sunday, technically the day after I brought it up! Actually, I brought it up in February when tickets went on sale, but being first time parents, we didn’t know what was going to take place a few months down the road after our son was born. Luckily everything has been great, and my wife out of the blue mentioned on Sunday morning, “why don’t you go to the show?” I didn’t hesitate for a second before calling up all of the usual suspects to see who had tickets, to see where I could get them, etc. In my wildest dreams I didn’t think I’d be seeing these three bands, Priest and Saxon for the second time, and Motorhead for the first. This was also my first time in the BEC to see a show (the previously hosted AC/DC and Rammstein).
I had seen Priest last year on the Priest Feast with Testament and Megadeth in San Sebastian, which a lot farther away, close to three hours to be exact. It surprised me at that time that they played the much smaller San Sebastian area (roughly 300,000 people) as opposed to Bilbao which has over a million people in its metro area. That show blew me away, so going into this show I had high hopes for all three bands.
All though my good friend Mark Strigl from Talking Metal, and his pal Eric “Bones Of Steel” are big fans of Saxon, I missed the boat on the band. I’m a few years younger, and by the time I got a hold of Denim and Leather, Crusader, and Princess of the Night (the three songs I witnessed them play along with Wheels Of Steel), they were just another British band trying to emulate Priest, Maiden, AC/DC and Def Leppard. So I honestly had very little interest in them. I felt that the four bands mentioned evolved in a better fashion, hence all of them garnering my attention more than Saxon. What we saw of them was good.
This is their full setlist courtesy of Setlist.fm
1. Hammer of the Gods
2. Heavy Metal Thunder
3. Never Surrender
4. Chasing the Bullet
5. Motorcycle Man
6. Back in ’79
7. Demon Sweeney Todd
8. Call to Arms
9. And the Bands Played On
11. Denim and Leather
12. Princess of the Night
13. Wheels of Steel
I’ve been a big Motorhead fan for a while but had never seen the band live. I do however own quite a few live DVDs and VHSs of the band. I was really pumped to see them, but that quickly changed. Don’t get me wrong, they where great, but the setlist, and the speed at which they played the songs really caught me off guard. They started off with two back to back classics that sounded great, Iron Fist and Stay Clean. But they followed that up with Get Back In Line and Metropolis which was played a lot slower than usual. This made the song just drag on. Other highlights for me where The Chase Is Better Than The Catch, In The Name of Tragedy, Killed By Death, Ace Of Spades, and Overkill. That said all of these tracks where played slower than usual, which made everything just drag along. I wasn’t the only one that mentioned this, and aside from a few die-hards, this was the most common gripe of the show. A lot of people mentioned that Saxon blew them off the stage. I couldn’t help but think about the Talking Metal’s cover of Overkill with Bobby Blitz from Overkill, Frank Bello of Anthrax, ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, and Mark Strigl and John Ostronomy of Talking Metal trading solos on guitar. It made this jam that much cooler, knowing they had blown the original band away. It also made it kind of sad that for as legendary as Motorhead is, I got to see them on an off night. Oh well, next time.
Here is their full setlist, once again courtesy of Setlist.fm
1. Iron Fist
2. Stay Clean
3. Get Back In Line
5. Over the Top
6. One Night Stand
7. The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
8. The Thousand Names of God
9. (Mike Dee Drum Solo)
10. I Know How to Die
11. In the Name of Tragedy
12. Going to Brazil
13. Killed by Death
14. Ace of Spades
Judas Priest, now let me mention this, as people keep saying this is the last they’ll see them in a live setting. Incorrect, the band have been mentioning how this will be their last full blown world tour. They will continue to play festivals, and concerts here and there. They will also continue to make music, they just don’t want to keep doing 300 date tours.
Again, I had seen the band last year, and figured well the setlist will probably be close to what they played then. Wrong! Yes they played a lot of the hits, but they pulled a lot of classics I didn’t expect either. We all banked on The Hellion/Electric Eye to kick things off, well we got Rapid Fire and Metal Gods instead. The setlist was taken from throughout their career, including Starbreaker, Victims Of Changes, Never Satisfied, another variation of Diamonds & Rust (they seem to switch this track up on every tour), Prophesy off of Nostradamus, Beyond The Realm of Death, Judas Is Rising off of Angel of Retribution, Blood Red Skies off of Ram It Down and my holy shit moment of the show The Sentinel off of Defenders Of The Faith. This happens to be one of my favorite Priest songs, I never thought I’d see them play it live.
Here is the complete setlist, courtesy of Setlist.fm
1. Battle Hymn / Rapid Fire
2. Metal Gods
3. Heading Out to the Highway
4. Judas Rising
6. Victim of Changes
7. Never Satisfied
8. Diamonds & Rust (Joan Baez cover)
9. Dawn of Creation
11. Night Crawler
12. Turbo Lover
13. Beyond the Realms of Death
14. The Sentinel
15. Blood Red Skies
16. The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown) (Fleetwood Mac cover)
17. Breaking the Law (The Crowd Singing)
18. Painkiller (Drum Solo at start)
19. The Hellion
20. Electric Eye
21. Hell Bent for Leather
22. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
23. Living After Midnight
Priest was great and made the entire evening worth wild. The show was filled with pyro, smoke, and a ridiculous amount of lasers. It is funny how people keep telling me that Rammstein puts on the best show, but you can have all of the effects you want, but without the music to back it up, it just isn’t the same. Priest’s effect blew anything I have seen Rammstein do away, because of the combination with the music. Don’t get me wrong, they put on a good show, but Priest demonstrated once again why they are one of the greatest live bands ever.
By the way Ricky Faulkner was a great fill in for KK Downing. He did much better than I expected, he played everything to a t like KK. And when he was given space to solo towards the end of the show, think a mixture of Randy Rhoads, John Skyes, Dio era Vivian Campbell and Jake E Lee. That said, does anyone really expect Priest to go out there with a slouch? Will be interesting to see if he stays or if KK comes back to the fold in the future.
My biggest complaint was the cost of the merchandising. T-shirts went from between 30€ to 45€. That translates into $35 to $64 as of today. Those prices are totally out of whack. They where your standard Ts as well, the Motorhead logo which can be found at any Hot Topic for a fraction, a Painkiller T, etc. It was very disappointing. Was the first show in a long time that I didn’t go home with a shirt.
In any event, if you get a chance to see Judas Priest on their Epitaph tour, do so, it’ll be worth your wild.
Here are some pictures and videos that I shot, sorry for the poor quality, by the time we got there the place was 75% full.