The end of an era, the passing of legends, the last hurrah of an old warhorse. Call it what you will this night was going to be historic anyway you look at it. The first date on the UK leg of Judas Priests final tour. Quite rightly called the Epitaph tour it was a chance for their legendary band to play one last headlining tour for their fans of nearly 40 years. The crowds who came had both excitement and sadness as many believed that this could be the last time they would see Priest live. This was a one band night however both supports did an admiral job warming up the crowd.
Having seen Rival Sons at Sonisphere 4 days previously I knew what to expect from this L.A based band. Classic 60-70's rock riffs infused with Morrisonesque vocals. Despite the band coming on to little fanfare just 15 minutes after the doors opened they managed to catch the attention of the small crowd that was there early. Playing just 6 songs their set was short sweet and rocking providing a nice difference to the metal that was to come. 8/10
Next were Queensryche who have not graced Welsh shores for a very long time. They also had a stunted set that meant they had to produce a hits-lite set that was able to hold the audience’s attention. Big hitters such as I Don’t Believe in Love and Jet City Woman they were able to give the songs there all but I can't help thinking they were a bit too workmanlike in their presentation. Despite this they were able to prep the crowd for the Metal onslaught that Priest were going to bring. 7/10
As the Epitaph curtain was raised the sense of excitement followed it. The crowd brimming with a nervous, joyous energy about what was to come. As the opening riff of Rapid Fire hit the crowd went nuts, the band casting there spell over the full to the rafters audience enraptured with every, note and scream. Rob Halford was on top for all night despite using an echo effect on some of the higher notes he was still able to hit them well. Glenn Tipton and new boy Ritchie Faulkner were in sync the whole time, Ian Hill was a stoic as ever and Scott Travis flailed like a mad man throughout. After the blitz of the opening track there came the anthem that is Metal Gods (no cutlery included this time unfortunately). The set list was not just a 'greatest hits' that would be too easy for a band like Priest. This set was a fan favourite run through of the bands career. Featuring songs from all the bands albums, including their two post reunion albums and early record Rocka Rolla. As always the majority came from their breakthrough British Steel album. However some tracks were genuine fan favourites. Big hit Breaking the Law led to a mass sing-along with Halford not even singing a word leaving the fine Welsh voices to do the work for them. The set ended with the aural assault of Painkiller before a small rest bite led first encore and the one two of The Hellion/Electric Eye before another small break and the emergence of the iconic Harley for Hell Bent For Leather and You Got Another Thing Comin' ended the first encore. The crowd exploded after this applause and cheers abound they had been entertained by True British Metal for 2 hours. Priest then came out one last time and played one final song the classic Living After Midnight before saying their final goodbye to the delighted audience. Priest are legends and as such any small technical errors (of which there were a few) can be forgiven. One of the founding members of the metal fraternity Priest have done everything to imprint their legacy on the world rarely has there been a band that has linked together so many people under one roof. They are proof that no matter what walk of life you come from it is the Metal that matters and there is no more fitting Epitaph for a band like Judas Priest than that. 10/10