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Hammersmith Apollo, London 16 March 2005

What a night this was going to be. And how long is it since the Scorps were relegated to opening?

The house was full, heaving in fact, and when Meine et al came on stage the cheers rose.

An immense orchestra intro kicked things off, including an encore, we basically got an hourís worth of greatest hits. 'Bad Boys Running Wild' and 'The Zoo' got things off to a great start, with Klaus throwing plenty of drum sticks into the crowd and encouraging a sing along. Rudolf Schenker also managed a different flying V every other song.

Newer tracks like 'Love Them Or Leave Them' went down well, and the set closed with 'Blackout' and 'Big City Nights'. Back for an encore and we got 'Still Loving You' and 'Rock You Like A Hurricane'. There were clearly some Scorps fans in the place.

But all this paled into insignificance compared to the eveningís main entertainment. The Metal Gods are back, and with Rob Halford back in the fold, this is what everyone had come to see.

An enormous red eye shone at the crowd from the back of the stage, and of course the bandís greatest opener, 'Electric Eye', kicked off proceedings with a storm, with Rob appearing in the Eye. Second chorus and he appeared on a rising platform stage left, and during 'Metal God' he slowly, majestically, made his way down the set and towards the front of the stage. Imagine the walk of a deep sea diver, exaggerated. But when you saw what he was wearing, it probably weighed the same. Huge biker boots, and a knee length leather jacket completely studded and with chains on the arms.

'Riding On The Highway', 'Ripper' and 'Touch Of Evil' followed, dual soloing from Tipton and Downing with aplomb, and everything between songs taken at a controlling pace. If there was any arrogance in the basking in their glory, it was fully justified and made for a professional performance.

What was surprising is the time it took to start playing tracks from the new album, I guess they were first and foremost announcing they were back, as if we really needed any reminding. Anyway, 'Judas Is Rising' and 'Revolution' (both from the new Angel Of Retribution) both rocked and fitted in very well. Back to the classics and 'Hot Rockiní', 'Breaking The Law' and 'Iím A Rocker' saw the already hot atmosphere get an awful lot hotter.

From one classic to another, and the acoustic intro could only mean the brilliant cover of 'Diamonds And Rust'. And the new 'Deal With The Devil' really is Judas Priest at their very best.

'Beyond The Realms Of Death' was one many wanted to see, but was sadly the number from Stained Class.

'Turbo Lover' went down a storm and next to 'Hell Rider', showed the bandís versatility and songwriting ability.

The only down of the show was, surprisingly, Glennís guitar solo. Compared to tracks like 'Painkiller' which were played at such speed and ferocity, the solos note perfect too, it made any guitar solo seem unnecessary and actually rather cumbersome.

'The Green Manalishi' and the aforementioned 'Painkiller' rounded off the show nicely, before the roar of an engine told us all that the encore would be 'Hell Bent For Leather'. A bright polished chrome of Harley Davidson entered the stage, complete with a metal clad Halford and almost everyone in the building singing along.

Given the almost over majestic proceedings, Robís goading the audience to sing further again seemed a little unnecessary, especially when the final two songs 'Living After Midnight' and 'Youíve Got Another Thing Coming' took them to within seconds of the curfew.

Overall the gripes are minor compared to an immense performance. Few bands get anywhere close, or as loud, and they made The Scorpions look like a support band. No mean feat.

An incredible and thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Review: Joe Geesin

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