Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Living after midnight.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Black Sabbath was a bit of a disappointment last night. How could they possibly not be? They'd been blown completely off the stage by Judas Priest, who gave one of the best performances I've ever seen anywhere by any band, metal or otherwise. And I have the aching neck and ravaged vocal chords to prove it.

The day began auspiciously when Jessica managed to snag box seats that were much closer to the stage than the tickets I bought (for $65.00 each) way back in March. I probably could have gotten a good bit of cash for those old tickets, but I decided to sell them cheap to Monty. The only bad thing about going with Jessica was that she had to work, and wouldn't be able to go until later in the evening, leaving me to spend a few hours out at Alltel Pavilion by myself.

As luck would have it, my Slayer-fanatic cousin and her best friend pulled into the parking lot right ahead of me. I hadn't even noticed them, being so distracted by the sight of Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis riding by on a golf cart (they spotted Kerry King riding in another cart). The irony of the situation is that this is the same cousin with whom I saw Judas Priest in Greensboro, way back in 1982 -- the first metal concert for us both. Somehow it hadn't occured to either of us to call and find out if the other one was going to the show.

Pantera offshoot Superjoint Ritual was playing when we got in. I'm afraid I don't have much to say about them. They made absolutely no impression on me whatsoever, except for the fact that Hank Williams III really knows how to flip his hair around when he's banging his head. I kind of liked the country stuff he did a few years back -- stylistically he's a whole lot closer to his grandfather than his father. Plus, I used to be obsessed with The Jesus Lizard, whose guitarist, Duane Denison, was Hank III's guitar player. But, I digress.

Aside from Judas Priest, the band I was most interested in seeing was Norwegian black metal group Dimmu Borgir. I know it's cheesy, but I just love that stuff -- the "corpse" paint, the horror movie pipe organ, the Cookie Monster vocals. Personally, I prefer Emperor and Ulver, both of whom are more inventive but not nearly as cheesy as Dimmu Borgir (acutally, Emperor may be a little cheesier, but they're also a better band so it evens itself out). By this point, I had met up with another person I know who gave me another set of tickets, this time for Gold Circle seats, so we had a great vantage point for Dimmu Borgir's full cheese attack. And boy, was it cheesy. I once described the sound to someone by telling them to imagine the Cookie Monster singing The Phantom of the Opera while being attacked by a million bees. Now visualize him covered in leather and spikes, his blue fur dyed an inky black and his face painted in a bad imitation of King Diamond. My cousin was completely unimpressed.

"This is such a cliche," she cried. "I can't believe you actually like this." When Slayer came on, she leaned over and yelled at me, "Can't you hear the difference between that band and this band?"

Actually, yes I could. "South of Heaven" is one of my favorite CDs ever, but now I can't listen to them without imagining my boyfriend, Danny, cringing like the Wicked Witch as she's being melted and crying out, "they're soloing out of key!" I'm not a good enough guitar player to know if they're in key or not, but I was perplexed as to why Tom Araya and Jeff Hanneman kept running off stage in between songs. Were they changing instruments? If so, all their guitars and basses look exactly alike. I couldn't see what they were doing, but I could see a roadie wiping off Kerry King's bald, tattooed head with a towel. I wonder if that's specifically in his job contract.

So, to make a long story short, Judas Priest rocked, Rob Halford sounded better than ever and Glenn Tipton is still hot. I would definitely put him and Tony Iommi (who actually looks better with age) in the sexy seniors category. I tried out my camera phone, which I bought for the express purpose of sneaking photos at concerts, and got a couple of cool, arty shots of K.K. Downing, including the one on this page. Monty called me right as I was trying to take one photo, so I just flipped open the phone and screamed as loud as I could. It was in the middle of "Heading Out to the Highway," so it's not like he could hear anything else. He was still rubbing his ear when I ran into him after the show. I also ended up running into a former neighbor who, as far as I knew never listened to anything heavier than Gordon Lightfoot. Geez, the guy has a beard and wears Teva sandals. Whoda thunk he liked Judas Priest?

This leaves me back where I started: back at the box, exhausted and sore, and amazed that Black Sabbath could make the song "Black Sabbath" even more dirge-like than normal. Jessica, who has a lot more stamina than I do, managed to actually get in the pit for Black Sabbath, so she was happy. I, on the other hand, was just happy to get home.
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