The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975
The Reading Festival hit its peak of success in the mid ’70s, and the 1975 festival sold out in advance. Although the previous years’ festivals that I had attended all seemed pretty full, you were still able to roll up and pay at the entrance. In 1975 the success of the festival and the draw of bands like Yes and Wishbone Ash ensured the site was completely packed, with hardly any room to be found in the campsites and car parks.
Friday line-up: Stella, Judas Priest, Wally, Kokomo, UFO, Dr Feelgood, Hawkwind. Judas Priest were an up and coming heavy rock band and were gigging constantly, as were UFO. Kokomo were a jazz/rock/funk outfit who were very successful during the ’70s. But the big success of Friday (and arguably the entire weekend) was Dr Feelgood, who were a massive hit with the festival crowd; Wilko and Lee being on red hot form. I was with a couple of guys who had recently become big Feelgood fans; “Back In The Night” had just been released and they were constantly singing it in my ear. “All around visible signs of the Doctor’s now-massive popularity – such as the many home-made banners (“Feelgood”, “Wilko” et al), the rapturous reception, the sea-of-weaving arms” (NME, 1975). “When Dr Feelgood stamped off they had within an hour, transformed this alfresco association into a tiny, sweaty, steaming R&B club. Charisma is too weak a word to describe what the Feelgoods had going for them that night.” (Brian Harrigan, Melody Maker, August 30, 1975). Hawkwind were ok, but it was cold, and they found it difficult to follow the Feelgood’s storming set.
Saturday line-up: Zzebra, SNAFU, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Kursaal Flyers, Thin Lizzy, Alan Stivell, Heavy Metal Kids (billed simply as “Kids” in the programme), Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Yes.
My memories are of Thin Lizzy delivering an excellent set as always; they were gradually building up their own following and would soon break through to become massive; The Heavy Metal Kids being as OTT as ever; and Yes, who were amazing. I must also mention the Kursaal Flyers, who are sadly often forgotten in the history of pub rock; they would hit the charts in the following year with the great pop single: “Little Does She Know” (“I know that she knows that I know she’s two timing me”). Supertramp were on the verge of mega-success; they had hit the charts with “Dreamer” and had a considerable following. I was, and remain, a big Yes fan and their performance at Reading came at a point where the band were at the peak of their success. I recall it being very cold, with epic versions of “Close to the Edge” and “And You and I”, and a great version of “Roundabout” as an encore (very late and off to our tents). A bootleg exists of Yes’ set that night: Sound Chaser; Close To The Edge; And You And I; Awaken; The Gates Of Delirium; I’ve Seen All Good People; Ancient; Long Distance Run Around; Ritual; Roundabout.
Sunday line-up: Joan Armatrading, Babe Ruth, String Driven Thing, Climax Blues Band, Caravan, Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robin Trower, Wishbone Ash. My memory of Sunday is of Wishbone Ash. Like Yes they were enjoying massive success at the time, and also like Yes they played a set of pure class, with the twin guitars of Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield soaring through the cool, late Sunday evening.
Our DJs for the weekend were once again John Peel and Jerry Floyd. The weather was cold, with some rain, and the beer can fights were constant throughout the weekend. The festival had always been an organised, carefully planned event, but was becoming even more commercial. The nature of the festival, and its line-up, would transform further in the years which followed; with the emergence of punk and the re-emergence of heavy metal through the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal). Any elements of the jazz festivals of the 60s had also disappeared.
Thanks to BaldBoris for allowing his image of the festival to be used through the WikiMedia Commons licence agreement.
Archive for the ‘Judas Priest’ Category
Posted by vintagerock in Alan Stivell, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Babe Ruth, Caravan, Climax Blues Band, Dr Feelgood, Hawkwind, Heavy Metal Kids, Joan Armatrading, John McLaughlin, Judas Priest, Kokomo, Kursaal Flyers, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Reading festival, Robin Trower, SNAFU, Soft Machine, String Driven Thing, Supertramp, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Wally, Wishbone Ash, Yes. Tagged: blues, classic rock, concert, concerts, festival, gig, gigs, R&B, rock, rock n roll. Leave a comment
The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975
Judas Priest Newcastle Arena 2005
The Angel Of Retribution tour
After a (too long) gap of over 20 years since I last saw Judas Priest in concert, I decided it was about time to see them again. In between that time Rob Halford has left and rejoined the band, so this 2005 outing was a sort of reunion tour. I went along with a group of mates, all of whom were seriously into Priest, and David came along for the ride. The Arena was by no means full, but the crowd size was respectable; Newcastle was always a metal stronghold and many people still had a soft spot for this band. The stage set was quite spectacular, and the show started with Rob Halford being hoisted down onto the stage to join the rest of the band. The show featured lots of Halford costume changes, and (of course) towards the end of the set Rob rode on stage wearing a huge leather coat, riding his Harley Davidson. This was pure heavy metal (and very tongue in cheek) theatre, and although the sound and atmosphere at the arena can never touch that of the City Hall, the spectacle and scale of the show certainly made up for it. Special guest for the tour were The Scorpions, another band who I hadn’t seen for a long time. My favourite Scorpions song has always been Loving You Sunday Morning, which they played that night. Judas Priest setlist: Electric Eye; Metal Gods; Riding on the Wind; The Ripper; A Touch of Evil; Judas Rising; Revolution; Hot Rockin’; Breaking the Law; I’m a Rocker; Diamonds & Rust; Deal With the Devil; Beyond the Realms of Death; Turbo Lover; Hellrider; Victim of Changes; The Green Manalishi; Painkiller; Hell Bent for Leather; Living After Midnight; You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’. It was great to hear old favourites like The Ripper and Victim of Changes again, and the Priest remained as impressive as ever live. David isn’t into heavy metal at all, and found it all a little too over the top.
Judas Priest Newcastle City Hall 1983
Judas Priest returned to Newcastle City Hall in December 1983, two years after their last appearance at the venue. Support this time came from Quiet Riot, an American heavy metal band, who had just released a great cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel the Noize.” Priest were by now mega successful in the USA. Earlier in the year they had played for over 300,000 heavy rock fans at the “US Festival”, alongside Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, The Scorpions and Van Halen. Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe said of the event: “It was the day new wave died and rock n’ roll took over” [from Wiki]. The event set the single-day concert attendance record for the US.
Setlist from the 1983 tour: Electric Eye; Riding on the Wind; Grinder; Metal Gods; Bloodstone; Breaking the Law; Sinner; Desert Plains; The Ripper; Freewheel Burning; Screaming for Vengeance; You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’; Victim of Changes; Living After Midnight; The Green Manalishi; Hell Bent for Leather.
This was once again a great performance by Judas Priest, and was in fact the last time that I saw them in concert for over 20 years. As their success in the USA grew, their visits to the UK were less frequent. They did play at the City Hall a couple of more times in the late 80s and early 90s, but I foolishly missed those gigs. I’ll write on the next time I saw Priest, which was in 2005, tomorrow.
Judas Priest Newcastle City Hall 1981
The Priest continued to spread metal mayhem across the globe, but also remained true to the home crowd, and returned for another full UK tour in 1981. The “World Wide Blitz” Tour, which was in support of their Point of Entry album, called at Newcastle City Hall on 18th November 1981, and I went along with a group of mates to marvel at our leather-clad heroes. By now tracks from British Steel were part of the set, so we were treated to classics such as Breaking the Law, and Living After Midnight, as well as old favourites Sinner, Beyond the Realms of Death and their excellent, and very dark, cover of Green Manalishi. This was classic Priest at their very best; they were now a massively successful heavy rock act, and were building up a big following in the USA and Japan.
From this tour on, Priest’s visits to the UK would become less frequent, as they started to concentrate on touring the US and other parts of the world. But for now, these guys were our metal heroes, and never failed to blow us away in concert. I can picture Rob now, commanding the stage, screaming out the vocals, flanked by KK Downing and Glen Tipton with their guitars flashing and swinging about. Great stuff! A typical setlist from the 1981 tour: Solar Angels; Heading out to the Highway; Diamonds & Rust; Hell Bent for Leather; Breaking the Law; Sinner; Beyond the Realms of Death; Grinder; Desert Plains; Hot Rockin’; You Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Wise; Victim of Changes; The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown). Encores: Living After Midnight; Tyrant. Support in 1981 came from Accept, a German heavy metal band who played an important role in the development of speed metal.
Judas Priest Newcastle City Hall 1979 and 1980 British Steel!
Judas Priest continued to tour throughout 1979 to 1980, moving from the Hellbent on Leather tour to the British Steel tour. Support acts were local band White Heat in 1979, and the mighty Iron Maiden in 1980. I also have a memory of attending a show at Newcastle Mayfair around this period; I think Priest may have played two nights at the City Hall and one at the Mayfair ballroom during the British Steel tour. British Steel was the sixth lp release by Judas Priest, and moved their music from dark, operatic metal, to shorter, more accessible and commercial rock songs. The album reached No 4 in the UK lp charts, their highest chart entry to date, and two singles from it reached the UK singles chart. These were Living After Midnight and the great Breaking the Law. The video for Breaking the Law is still shown on TV, and is a wonderful example of an early, very tongue in cheek, heavy metal promo. Their gigs continued to be crazy metal events, and Priest were a great favourite with the Newcastle metal crowds. The set around this time also included excellent covers of Fleetwood Mac’s Green Manalishi (1979) and Spooky Tooth’s Better By You, Better Than Me (in 1978). A typical setlist from 1980: Hell Bent for Leather; The Ripper; Running Wild; Living After Midnight; Sinner; Beyond the Realms of Death; You Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Wise; Grinder; Victim of Changes; Steeler; Genocide; Tyrant; The Green Manalishi. The programme for the 1980 Judas Priest tour is a true heavy metal work of art in itself. The cover shows a zipped leather suited guy wearing (of course) a studded belt complete with Judas Priest buckle. But the real treat lies inside. The centre fold of the programme contains a pop up of the band in all their onstage metal glory.
My copy has become a tad creased over the years, but I’ve done my best to photograph and present it here. Rob is on his motorbike in his usual leather gear, and the guitarists all have their axes held aloft. You couldn’t beat it!
Judas Priest Newcastle City Hall October 1978
In many ways Judas Priest as the ultimate heavy metal band. When they returned to the City Hall in October 1978, their image had developed from the standard heavy rock band with flowery shirts and flares, and they we starting to become heavy metal gods. Rob Halford in particular was starting to wear more studded leather gear, with undertones of S&M, and he was using his incredible vocal range to greater effect on songs like The Ripper in which he would scream the vocals in his high pitched operatic style. I don’t remember at which point, or on which tour, Rob started to ride a motorbike on stage, but it wasn’t that long after this. A couple of years later Priest released British Steel, an album which in many ways defines the heavy metal genre. More than any other band I saw in concert, Priest developed from what I would class a solid rock band like many others in the mid 70s, to a top rate metal band, pushing at the boundaries and setting a standard that many others would attempt to match over the years, and to this day. This change was very evident in their live performances, which saw them graduate from clubs, through ballrooms to concert halls (and soon onward to arenas). Along the way I witnessed them deliver an excellent, and well received, performance at the Reading festival in 1975. Support for the late 1978 tour came from the multi talented Lea Hart who has been a producer, singer, songwriter, and (currently) manager (of Maiden’s Paul Di’Anno). Hart had been in Slowbone, and went on to join Fastway in the 80s.
Judas Priest mid 70s – 1978
Judas Priest toured a lot in the early days of their career, and played several times as Sunderland Locarno and Newcastle Mayfair. I saw some of those gigs and remember them as a pretty solid rock band. I think I saw them supporting Budgie once. This was the classic line-up of Rob Halford – vocals; K. K. Downing – guitar; Glenn Tipton – guitar; Ian Hill – bass guitar; the drummer changed a few times. Over the years you could see how these guys were developing as performers and song writers. Metal classics like The Ripper, Victim of Changes, and Sinner started to appear in the set. Rob Halford got crazier each time I saw them, and K K Downing and Glen Tipton started to perfect their guitar duels. I must mention Glen Tipton and his previous band, the Flying Hat Band. I saw that group on two occasions at Sunderland Locarno and they were simply stunning; one of the best live acts I ever saw. Tipton’s guitar playing was unbelievable; I remember standing at the front watching their entire set and being just blown away. By the time I saw Priest at Newcastle City Hall in February 1978, they were the quintessential pure metal band they we have all grown to love. Lots of leather and Rob was so over the top, whipping the audience, throwing bottles of beer into the crowd. I remember one night the crowd caught hold of his whip and pulled him off stage by it. I saw quite a few times over the next few years, mostly at the City Hall, and also at the Mayfair. I’ll spend a few days reflecting on the Priest. I found a track listing from a live recording of the Feb 1978 City Hall show which shows the set as: Exciter; White Heat, Red Hot; The Ripper; Savage; Sinner; Beyond The Realms Of Death; Victim Of Changes; Better By You, Better Than Me; Diamonds And Rust; Starbreaker; Tyrant