JUDAS PRIEST / UFO
It's damn cool to visit new places for a show. As this was my first ever concert in Karlstad and it was another thing to be excited about, more than the bands playing. As if they were not enough on their own...
I've seen UFO a couple of times in recent years and they've always been good. Well, that's an understatement, they've been fantastic actually but I was a bit reluctant to take out too much before the show as the Löfbergs Arena is rather big and I've seen UFO in clubs only. Would they be able to fill the stage? Looking back at the show I had nothing to worry about.
Phil Mogg was the timid gentleman he always is as he stalked the stage from side to side, gently talking to the crowd and sipping his beer. What I think is the most fun with UFO these days is the joy they radiate. The moment they hit the stage there was a smile on my face and it lasted there throughout the show. “Mother Mary” works on album but it is live where it song gets real justice. The groove mixed with Phil's, still in these days, fantastic voice and Vinnie Moore's guitar playing. Can't but love them. Of course, as always, it took until “Lights Out”, third song in the set before the crowd started reacting. Also, people were still lurking in the bar or moving towards the venue when UFO started playing as the floor was rather sparsely crowded until halfway through their set. And that was one thing I think can be improved with the Löfbergs Arena, a bar on the floor, in the back as they do it at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm or even better, an open permit to drink low alcohol beer right in front of the stage as it is at Scandinavium in Gothenburg. Ok, beer isn't everything but the more Phil kept talking about it, that he's falling off his feet of Swedish beer didn't really help to damp the urge for a beer.
My hopes went sky-high when the stage tech carried out an acoustic guitar and placed it in front of Vinnie; I was really hoping to hear “Love To Love” as it is one of my all time favorite songs. But instead UFO played “Venus” which of course also is great. An odd song to play live came right after in “Burn Your House Down”, I really like it so I'm not complaining but I was surprised when I realized what Phil sang about hearing it on record and I never thought they'd play it live. It sure sounds as amazing live as on record.
It was a few more songs into the set when the stage tech appeared again with the acoustic guitar but was chased away by Phil. Bummer, but the set was still amazing. “Rock Bottom” is fantastic and still holds as one of the true classic Hard Rock songs. I prefer this over “Doctor Doctor” but I surely don't mind UFO playing that one either. But what I take away from this show is the joy and feel-good moment it always is watching UFO play. Also, to have the chance to stand and watch Vinnie handle his guitar is a true pleasure. He's different from Michael Schenker for sure and he has his own style in the classics which was a bit hard to look past the first time I saw him play. Now this is something I'm looking forward to. Even the rather extensive Guitar Solo was amazing to watch. Just a shame on all who came in during the last few songs, you really missed out.
01. “Mother Mary”
02. “Run Boy Run”
03. “Lights Out”
05. “Burn Your House Down”
06. “Only You Can Rock Me”
07. “Let It Roll”
08. “Messiah Of Love”
09. “Rock Bottom”
10. “Doctor Doctor”
I've been into lengthy discussions about JUDAS PRIEST, if it was right to bring in Richie Faulkner when KK Downing decided to leave or not. Of course, it's always hard to see an original member go but on the other hand, I do want to have the opportunity to see the bands I love live as well. I'm not alone in this matter that showed clearly this evening since the Löfbergs Arena filled up almost completely just before JUDAS PRIEST hit the stage. Should then one guy be allowed to bring down the whole band?
Just judging how JUDAS PRIEST have been performing since Richie has entered, it was the right decision to bring him in and continue playing, doubtless.
It is a cheerful band that hit the stage in Karlstad, even more so that this summer's performance at ‘Sweden Rock Festival’. Which I thought was amazing but I'll be damned if this show wasn't even stronger. First of all, because of a few songs in the set; one have to count on the regular classics of course but that “Desert Plains” would appeared in the set was amazing. A damn good track to start with and it's always really pleasant to be surprised by songs in the set. Unfortunately (or actually as cool as it could be) I was stuck in the photo-pit during this song and then I can't act out fully. But ok, I got to hear it and I wouldn't have traded the photo opportunity away. “Victim Of Changes” is always welcome in the set if you ask me, another fantastic song and Rob Halford sounded better than ever. For sure, age has taken its toll on the highest pitched notes but there are not many singers that beat his strength and tone in the register he still has. Actually, there are not many singers that has the range he has these days, period. “Halls Of Valhalla” is one of my favorite from “Redeemer Of Souls” so that was another nice feature in the set. But I have to say that “The Rage” came as a real surprise. JUDAS PRIEST have brought songs in and out of their set but I never really thought this would show up.
And it was as it was with UFO with JUDAS PRIEST as well, instant smile as soon as they hit the stage and that stayed throughout the show. Richie is very energetic without taking over too much. But it is needed as Rob is mainly walking on and off from the front, Ian Hill is safely positioned at his place by the speakers. That evening Glen Tipton actually moved around and showed off quite a bit compared to other times when I've seen them play. And I wonder, is this because of Richie's energy and attitude?
But speaking about show, it's no JUDAS PRIEST show without the motorcycle in “Hellbent For Leather”, the sound of the engine roaring from backstage sent shivers down my spine. And even if this is one of the most played Heavy Metal songs ever I never get tired of it, the structure is smart, the riffs are creative and not all as simple as the song is hitty. That's what makes JUDAS PRIEST very special, they for sure have the less brainy tracks as “Breaking The Law” or “Living After Midnight”, they too work of course but they doesn't set me off as “Hellbent For Leather” or “Screaming For Vengeance” which also was a great surprise.
As I said, Rob Halford's voice is still amazing but it's been clear for years that he can't pull “Painkiller” off in its original version. Then it was a great surprise at ‘Sweden Rock Festival’ when he'd actually changed the vocal line and sang instead of keep screaming the words. Perhaps it lost a little power but it sure sounded amazing again. So, as long as he keeps it this way, I absolutely don't mind having it in the set, so it truly sounded amazing this night as well.
Apart from the lack of beer in the arena, both bands and city really exceeded my expectations. The sound was good, of course it need to be crowded to get real justice from the PAs so UFO suffered a little to start with but as soon as the place started to fill up for real the sound was very good. Also the atmosphere was very nice, it was cheerful faces everywhere and good support for the bands, which is the case almost every time when getting out of the major cities. So with that, I would absolutely go back to Karlstad for another concert - I will also definitely see both JUDAS PRIEST and UFO when they come back for another tour.
JUDAS PRIEST setlist:
01. Intro - “Battle Cry”
03. “Metal Gods”
04. “Desert Plains”
05. “Victim Of Changes”
06. “Halls Of Valhalla”
07. “The Rage”
08. “Turbo Lover”
09. “Redeemer Of Souls”
10. “Beyond The Realms Of Death”
11. “Screaming For Vengeance”
12. “Breaking The Law”
13. “Hell Bent For Leather”
14. Intro - “The Hellion”
15. “Electric Eye”
16. “You've Got Another Thing Comin'”
18. “Living After Midnight”
19. Outro - “Beginning Of The End”
(click to enlarge)