Judas Priest ft. Babymetal
Written by Radio Heatwave on January 15, 2019
A BABY, A PRIEST AND A NIGHT OF METAL
By Craig Chen
After giving their brand-new album Firepower a chance earlier this year, my interest in Judas Priest and their music skyrocketed. The fifty-year old heavy metal veterans put out what was in my mind one of the best albums of the year, and even a seasoned metal fan I know said if the project came out during the years of cassette tapes, he would have bought the album off of the three-song preview alone.
That same fan also immediately started cursing his luck when he found out Dheepan and I were going to attend their concert in Singapore, featuring Babymetal no less, while he was out of the country.
Once again, we trudged to the same Zepp@Bigbox stage space where we witnessed Chance perform an amazing set, the lights overhead this time casting bright white lights onto the audience, while the stage was dyed a deep blue. We arrived a few minutes after the doors opened to the standard ticket holders for the event, but considering we managed to get a decent spot at Chance, we did not expect too many people to have settled in.
Lo’ and behold, the area was already half-full, and so Dheepan and I were relegated to standing at the back, situated conveniently behind some of the tallest guys in the crowd. We were astounded really; we knew that there were fans of Judas Priest and Babymetal in Singapore, but to have reeled in this many people showed something, and it would take till the end of the concert for us to find out what.
Soon after, the lights dimmed, and an eerie tone played.
But first, a bit of background: I have to admit I’m not the most familiar with Babymetal. Dheepan was the one who was excited to see them (saying it was a concert he had on his bucket list), and I understood their aesthetic and concept, but I never really thought that “cute girls do idol metal” would be something that would appeal to me. There was a chance I could be wrong, but I never really sought out their music and listened to it seriously.
Back in present day: I was wrong, this does appeal to me, and I am finding and listening to their album after tonight.
Casting aside their infamous fox masks, they jumped right into the song that kicked off their debut album, Babymetal Death, though in my opinion, hype really kicked into full gear with the follow up song Megitsune, a banger through and through that really encompasses everything Babymetal.
Right after came the song Dheepan came to hear live: The smash hit that busted them into mainstream pop culture Gimme Chocolate. It was at this point I had given up all hope of being simply an observer in the metal madness. If I wasn’t bouncing around from the hype before, I definitely was now.
With every song I was more enraptured with the energy in Bigbox, but it wasn’t until Meta Taro that I saw Babymetal as rather diverse in their sound and style. It was anthemic and bombastic, unlike the mix of adorable and ominous that formed my opinion of them at first.
However, not all good things last, and before long, they were closing out their show. I may not have been their biggest fan going in, but I couldn’t help but feel like I would have loved a proper, full-on concert from them, and could not wait to see them again.
Not that I would have time to: after all, I did come to support the Priest.
With every passing second, I grew more hyped; even them setting up the tarp for their performance, and every stray strum on the guitar got me ready to start moving again. The hall was lit up bright, but the stage remained dark, lit only by crimson backlights that give the tarp a fiery glow.
And then came Rob Halford’s opening vocal passage, and a riff I knew way too well.
As that one seasoned fan predicted, Judas Priest opened explosively with the title track off of their latest album and screams of Firepower filled the room.
It was a real metal concert experience. The audience screams, the banners and black shirts, people getting up on other peoples’ shoulders waving said banners up high, a 70 year old man singing and screaming in perfect harmony and melody while people half his age could barely keep up. This was everything I expected from metal, but what I didn’t was Judas Priest’ response to them.
After an electrifying performance of songs off of Painkiller and Turbo 30, not forgetting the unforgettable Lightning Strike which I screeched along to the lyrics, completely losing my voice, Rob Halford said something that changed my perspective of heavy metal: He thanked the audience for showing up, complimented their ability to keep on rocking in the free world and, leading into the next song, Never Surrender.
This was probably one of the biggest takeaways from the whole experience, alongside the green hues that bathed the audience during their performance of Defenders Of The Faith, Rob Halford whipping about a lightsabre on stage, and riding out a Harley Davidson in a billow of smoke, I started to see what it was that drew so many people here: A die-hard devotion, the same one to have weathered the many years that the community has grown and shrunk, ready to show their support for the Priest, a fifty-year-old anchor in the genre that has yet to change with the tides, and the band completely understands and appreciates that.
For one of their last performances of the night, they brought out a special guest to play with them: Glenn Tipton, one of the band’s earliest guitar and keyboard players, who, after offering his thanks and appreciation to the fans with a quick hand gesture over his heart, played out one of their breakout singles, Breaking the Law. Tipton had mentioned in February 2018 that he would not be touring with the band due to his recently diagnosed Parkinson’s Disease, though he would play live shows from time to time. This was one of those times, and for one night, his intricate playing style was on display for all to see.
The endurance to carry on, the devotion to the craft, these were what we learnt were the bedrock of metal and the community around it. Judas Priest left shortly after their performance, but they once again gave thanks to the metal community, to the resounding chants of “PRIEST” echoing through the crowd.
This is metal.
Thanks to LAMC Productions for sending us to see this amazing concert!
Written by Craig Chen