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House of Blues, Hollywood, CA; 06/06/03

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It isn't often one has the opportunity to spend an evening with a true metal god, but that's what we were looking forward to doing as we headed down to the fabulous House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. 

We got even more than we expected.

The evening began with Leatherwolf, a band I've heard much about but whose music I was unfamiliar with and, of course, I'd never seen live. Leatherwolf opened the evening decently enough, their newer material sounding the smoothest; their vintage material sounding ... well ... vintage. The band gave a lively performance, however, and, again, started things out with a bang.

Testament was up next and - although I know the band's music - I didn't know what to expect from a live performance. In my mind, I thought that a Testament show would be very serious, with solid walls of heavy metal blasting from the stage, blurring fingers playing guitars at warp speeds and a vocalist screaming at the top of his lungs. Although those elements were all present, the biggest - and best - surprise was that the band was up there having fun! Along with the bombastic songs from the band's long career ("The Preacher" was a favorite that evening and it was originally recorded in 1988!), the band was up there having a great time, interacting with the audience, inviting fans up onstage with them and delivering a crushing set highlighted by blistering lead riffs, demonic vocals and so much energy it overflowed into the audience. When Testament left the stage, the audience was fired up and ready to welcome The Metal God.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Metal God didn't show up for about 50 minutes, so a lot of that energy was spent instead on waiting in line for another beer. Still, when the curtains finally split and Rob Halford took the stage, the energy level shot back up and the audience was ready to rock!

Halford started with "Painkiller," from the classic Judas Priest album of the same name and then played songs from virtually every aspect of his career. There were many classics from Priest ("Rapid Fire," "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" "Diamonds and Rust"), the mosh-inducing "Into the Pit" from the first Fight album and tunes from Halford's more recent solo outings. Highlights here included "White Heat, Red Hot" and "Never Satisfied" which Rob claims had never been played live before this tour.

Throughout the show, Halford was electric and it was difficult to take your eyes off the master long enough to take in the incredible talent of his band. The Metal God truly had the audience firmly in his grasp.

The show ended with a second rendition of "Rapid Fire" with Testament vocalist Chuck Billy joining Halford on stage. "That was my treat!" Billy said after they were finished. 

But the fact is, Chuck, the treat was all ours.

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.