Date / Venue: Saturday March 16th, 2019 - Spark Arena, Auckland
Following a tragic day in Christchurch New Zealand will never forget, with large concerts there cancelled due to public safety, and with stunned and saddened people overwhelmed by what had happened, the Auckland show for Judas Priest and guests Halestorm took to the stage for a night of unity in heavy metal.
The first words of the show delivered by Lizzy of Halestorm uplifted the crowd. “Whatever happens - love always wins."
One of my earliest memories of Judas Priest was watching a video at a church youth group on the evil heavy metal infesting our youth, backward masking, and lawsuits around the suicide attempts of James Vance and Ray Belknap, and like many, my main takeaway from the film was a list of bands to check out - not quite the result I'm sure they were going for.
It wasn't until a few years later that I actually listened to a Priest album back to back. I was immersed in the Christian metal scene and hadn't exposed myself to a lot of music from the "normal" scene. That all changed with 1990 Painkiller release - it was still Judas Priest, but everything was now on a different level - everything from the now iconic opening drum blast of (then) new drummer Scott Travis, the twin guitar attack of Downing/Tipton to Halford’s piercing wail - THIS WAS METAL!
Ticking all my boxes with sci-fi-esque, religious undertones that still leave me pondering lyrics; this was an album I just knew was going to stay with me for a long, long time.
And then, after 12 albums together, Rob left the band. Yes we got two Fight albums, the industrial experimentation of Two, and several solo albums, along with Priest providing both Jugulator and Demolition with Tim "Ripper" Owens fronting the band - it just wasn't the same.
Roll forward to 2005 with Angel of Retribution and the return of Halford to the fold - all was right with the metal world, until 2011s departure of long standing guitarist K.K.Downing, and Glen Tipton's Parkinson's diagnosis - Priest were, and still are a band that has faced many challenges, fighting them head on with no desire to stop.
And so it was -
Halestorm kick things off with that timely declaration from Lizzy —- "Whatever happens - love always wins," before driving right into Black Vultures, Love Bites and Mz Hyde - 15 minutes prior I was still sitting on the fence over Halestorm - they were a solid act with solid riffs and Lizzy an amazing guitarist, but nothing stood out to me - and then in an instant - there's the live show which just blew me away! Lizzy's voice, style, and stage presence showed them as the performers they are.
Drummer Arejay (Hale) was not shy with making his presence known either, with a drum layout fully exposing him to the crowd and sticks that flew through the air to be caught, and sometimes dropped as Arejay leapt all over his throne, culminating with a rather amusing set of "big sticks" pulled out during a drum solo.
Freak Like Me had everyone jumping in unison and closer. I Miss the Misery left everyone pumped and ready for Priest.
With a nod to Osbourne’s absence from tonight's bill - Black Sabbath's iconic War Pigs comes over the PA marking the start of Judas Priest’s first headlining show in New Zealand. As the band kicks off I've already noticed the setlist has been tailored for the New Zealand audience as Delivering The Goods replaces Firepower as show opener, moving through songs I'd never thought I'd hear live, with The Sinner and The Ripper from Sin After Sin and Sad Wings Of Destiny respectively - following up with Lightning Strikes, No Surrender from the bands 2018 release Firepower, which proves that either Judas Priest were far ahead of their time, or their writing is timeless - songs that sound fresh even though they were written over the band’s vast lifetime.
Turbo Lover kicks in for a tonal change. I remember the album being panned or derided due for the experimentation with MIDI based guitars and a "synth" feel, but now the song comes as a fan favorite with the audience lapping it up.
Priest’s cover of Fleetwood Mac's The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown) was a surprise I welcomed with open arms. Then there was the silent show of respect to New Zealand with a Kia Kaha backdrop at the end of Rising From Ruins - actions often speak louder than words.
Closing out the main set with Freewheel Burning, You've Got Another Thing Coming, Hell Bent For Leather and Painkiller the show ended on a high that left me more than satisfied.
The Metal God's were not fully done with us mind you, and soon enough The Hellion breached the PA and followed by Electric Eye, Metal Gods, Breaking the Law and closing out with Living After Midnight.
By all accounts I should have been a zombie but I left the venue pumped, a weight lifted off my soul through the cathartic scream of heavy metal that I wish our Christchurch brethren could enjoy.
For me - this is hands down gig of the year, beating out last night's Anthrax/Slayer show, and leaving the as yet unplayed Metallica show to go.
EMP Pathways, a new not for profit organisation creating entertainment industry opportunities for the youth of Adelaide, is pleased to announce it will be hosting a Metal Fundraiser at The Gov on Sunday, August 11. All proceeds will go towards programs supporting Adelaide’s youth to increase life skills, career pathways and actively engage with each other and the community through music and gaming.
Australian death metal band Disentomb have announced their Decaying Light NZ tour. The tour is set to be filled with new material with the release of The Decaying Light album coming this July! This group has been nothing short of fantastic in their short existence and their third album is sure to be as wild as their last album “Misery”.
Comprising 12 monstrous heavy metal anthems that bulge with irresistible melodic hooks, bursts of thrilling savagery and moments of spine-tingling dynamic drama, Berserker is the result of the huge surge of creativity and a collective desire to keep moving forward with no compromise. Berserker is an album full of trademark Amon Amarth bluster and bite but with every aspect of the band's sound somehow refined, sonically enhanced and made vastly more potent.
Aotearoa has an abundance of world-class talent that you can see on stages across the length and breadth of the country. In clubs and pubs, community centres and RSAs, theatres and school halls, and so many other venues, there is no shortage of live music happening every week around New Zealand.
Canadian progressive heavy music genius, Devin Townsend, is pleased to announce a very special Australian An Evening With solo acoustic tour. The intimate evenings will feature Devin performing tracks from across his catalogue, as well as taking part in a Q&A where fans will get to know more about what Devin is up to at this stage in his career and the newly released album, Empath. This will prove to be a unique & special experience for all in attendance.
Record label giant, Nuclear Blast, launch new Australia and New Zealand A&R divisions. Believe Digital recently acquired a majority stake in the label and has seen these giants of the music industry join forces in an alliance of two massive companies’ intent on exploring all options in the music industry.
The Saboteurs announce their special guests for Australia shows. Laura Imbruglia will be bringing her just-released album to the now sold out Melbourne show; Johnny Hunter is joining them for their Sydney show at Big Top Luna Park, tickets are still available!
Hellions have launched a Fan T-Shirt Design Competition, giving punters a chance to show off their creative flare for a cause—Girls Rock! Australia—and have announced the supporting act for Sydney show.
Hellions have rounded off their already stacked line-up of local support with the addition of Newcastle natives Eat Your Heart Out in Sydney. Since emerging in 2012 Eat Your Heart Out have established their very own brand of grunge-y emo energy
On May 3rd, Amon Amarth will release their 11th full-length, Berserker, via Sony Music Australia. Directed by Roboshobo, Raven's Flight will be the first of a trilogy of music videos from Berserker, each one increasingly epic in its scope, further immersing the viewer in the world of Amon Amarth.
Hot on the heels of a triumphant performance to a capacity crowd at Homegrown, rockers Villainy have just announced a nationwide tour, which will coincide with the release of their highly-anticipated third album, Raised in the Dark.
Sadly; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy®-winning singer and songwriter Ozzy Osbourne has announced today that he must, unfortunately, cancel shows in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. This follows news of the postponement of the entire UK and European leg of his NO MORE TOURS 2 tour on doctors’ orders.
Not to be missed - two hours of mythology, pagan belief and spiritually combined with brutally melodic metal with the one and only ELUVEITIE. The 9-part band soak the stage and audience with charisma while their beautifully archaic folk metal fills the room
Psychedelic heavyweight Earthless have announce their supporting acts for their Australia/New Zealand tour. The support line up is heady and heavy, meaning that each show is going to be stuffed with rock n roll greatness.
One of our writers sat down with Amy Mansfield, writer of I Didn’t Invite You Hear To Lecture Me, ahead of the Basement shows. Most students throw out their study notes, but not Amy. She has kept hold of them for the past 20 years--vertibiam quotes from her lectures that are too good to ever get rid of. The play was shown throughout the Auckland Fringe Week 2018, and even in some personal living rooms, the vibe is very independent and witty.
It was a cold bleary eyed Saturday night as the clock struck midnight, and counted towards 1am… the time set forth to conjure Richard Shaw, guitarist for legendary UK black metal act Cradle of Filth. We talked ahead of their sold out, first ever performance here in New Zealand.
NZ is about to get OBESSED, with the newest in kiwi music. Local Tauranga sweetheart, Amelia McNabb comes to us fiercely, independently, and with more fire in her lungs than I've heard from any kiwi artist in while. THIS is what we’ve been waiting for.
Elgusto, one part of the innovative electronic/dance music duo, Hermitude, sat down with one of our interviewers this past week; chatting about their loaded schedule, the bands ethos, how they communicate an instrumental show, and their creative collaborations.
Catching up with friends who are musicians at their gigs is always an odd, awkward, rushed affair between sets, pack-down, or a series of inaudible shouts as another band plays. So with the release of the new Seas of Conflict single Monachopsis, I thought it was time I simply scheduled time for a chat, not only once but twice--due to technical issues--with guitarist Declan Storrie.
I recently ventured back to my old festival haunting grounds - or at least the successor thereof. It was a hot Sunday afternoon and after juggling band members between their Festival One main stage duties and their prior commitments off-site, I managed to sit down with the guys and gal from Amanaki - one of the few hardcore-metal acts to perform at the mostly radio-friendly festival.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are gracing our shores on the 28th of November at Galatos. After a 4-year hiatus, they have burst back onto the scene and headed straight for the spot they are most familiar with, number 1 on the Billboard Christian Rock Charts.
Breakups are never easy - whether it's a romantic tryst, a teenage crush, or with a young Mark and his favourite band Dream Theater, that dark moment when founding keyboardist Kevin Moore left the group in 1994.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
Andrew Fagan returns with a satirical take on today’s social media preoccupied society. Being an amateur social anthropologist, it is a topic close to his heart. Listen to new track On Channel Me below, off Fagan’s forthcoming solo album Act Normal, due for release in October on Southbound.
Brisbane’s own indie rock royalty, The Grates, have been invited along for the ride, and will treat their hometown crowd to classics from their extensive and impressive catalogue of tunes including 19-20-20 and Turn Me On.
Pixies, one of the most influential alternative rock bands of all time, have announced a second show for Brisbane fans due to overwhelming demand. Following on from Melbourne’s second show announced on Friday (on sale 12pm today!), Brisbane fans have been just as eager to see catch the influential music pioneers, selling out the Fortitude Music Hall date on March 13. A second show has been added at the same venue on Thursday March 12 as part of their mammoth world tour, Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa.