Judas Priest / Queensrÿche Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto ON - June 5, 2005

Judas Priest / Queensrÿche Molson  Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto ON - June 5, 2005
While the sun's dying glare lingered on the Molson Amphitheatre stage, a restless crowd slowly settled into place, its diversity defying the usual stereotypes of what a metalhead is or should be. Queensrÿche's opening set covered a lot of ground - from '80s classics off their debut EP and Rage For Order through to hits like "Empire" to a song off the upcoming Operation Mindcrime II - and was a masterful performance from a smoothly aging icon. Geoff Tate's posturing made him look more like U2's Bono than a metal front-man (the sunglasses didn't help either), but he made up for it with the sheer force and precision of his vocal contortions, and the entire band was dead-on from the opening chords to the final "sing-along" ballad. Despite the strong showing of rabid Queensrÿche fans, Judas Priest was clearly the main draw, and the reunited metal pioneers had everyone on their feet. Visually, Priest was flashy but low-speed. Risers, elevators, changing backdrops, loads of leather and studs (most of them on Rob Halford's half-dozen different coats) provided stimulation for the eye, but the closest thing to acrobatics was a spinning drumstick. Granted, the Priest boys are a little past the jumping around age, and that's not what the screaming, arm-waving crowd was there for. Even if Priest's more than three decades are beginning to show and make themselves heard, it didn't take away from the band's magnetic power. The two-hour set opened with "The Hellion/Electric Eye," hitting the obvious (like "Painkiller" and "Living After Midnight") but also including a hint of the less predictable with four new tracks from Angel of Retribution. Antics and set list aside, what the night was really about was the return to Toronto of these legends in the flesh and another chance to see a piece of metal history enacted before the eyes.