Incredible as it may seem, it has taken the mighty Priest this long to finally visit this part of the world. Given the reception they were treated to by the sold out crowd at The Palais, I doubt they will hesitate to return on future tours.
The opening band was a local act from years gone by, 'Heaven', who have recently reformed. Their set was short but solid. Surprisingly for this venue, they received adequate sound and lighting. The crowd at this stage was still thin and disappointing, but by the time Priest were ready to come on, it was shoulder to shoulder throughout. Quite a mix of ages, sexes, and backgrounds - hardcore longhairs, shaved heads and even decidedly 'ordinary' looking people in casual clothes! And more than a few like myself, 30-something people with crewcuts (thanks to the day job), wearing denim & leather.
Priest kicked off about 10:20pm, and hammered the entire venue without respite until 12:15am. Here's the setlist:
Heading Out to the Highway
Touch of Evil
Victim of Changes
One on One
Diamonds & Rust
Burn in Hell
Hell is Home
Beyond the Realms of Death
Breaking the Law
Feed on Me
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Living After Midnight
Hell Bent for Leather
The sound from where I was standing, directly in front of the mixing desk about twelve meters from the front of the stage, was wonderful. Interestingly they started off at a relatively comfortable volume, but once the crowd started getting involved and was drowning out the band, the levels crept up dramatically. By the time 'One on One' was played, it was shatteringly loud, with many of Ripper's higher vocals actually feeling like they were going to squeeze my skull until it crushed! This was one of the loudest shows I've ever heard - I'll be ringing for a few days no doubt. This aside, the band grabbed Melbourne by the scruff of the neck and shook the hell out of us all. The songs from Demolition seemed to be not as well known by many in the crowd, but they went down famously. Other high spots included 'Victim of Changes', 'Electric Eye', 'Painkiller', 'Hell Bent for Leather' and particularly 'Feed on Me', which had the entire floor jumping up and down for much of the song.
The energy level never wavered througout the entire show, and I don't think I've ever seen Glenn or Ian smile so much. There were a few glitches from Glenn - at the start of the solo in 'Touch of Evil' he accidentaly pressed the button for his 'clean' guitar sound, so the first few notes were very odd. He just wrinkled his nose a little, hit the correct button and carried on stronger than before. KK was also very active on his side of the stage, getting the audience to chant and clap along to many of the songs. Ripper was normally very cool, but towards the last part of the show (particularly during the instrumental passages in 'Painkiller' and 'Electric Eye') he spent a lot of time slapping hands with people in the front rows. Scott was solid behind the kit, doing quite a bit of twirling and waving to the crowd. Ian was enthusiastically banging away in the background, but was making far more eye contact with the crowd than I've ever seen him doing before. All were amazingly professional and had stage presence and charisma by the bucket load. They all looked like they were truly enjoying what they were doing. The funniest moment - Ripper shouts, "The Priest is back!".... and then mumbles, "Not that we've ever been here before....."!!
If this show is an indication of the quality of the tour overall, I'd urge everyone to go see it. This was one of the best concerts I have been to see.