The Masters of Metal at PNC Art Center

Judas Priest, Heaven and Hell, Motorhead, Testament @ PNC Art Center
Holmdel, NJ

With Ozzfest pretty much hanging it up, there’s not much out there for metal fans in terms of a good rock show. Sure, Motley Crue is lapping up some dough riding the nostalgia train and Poison is milking The Rock of Love, but come on—they aren’t metal.

Enter Rob Halford. The metal god was able to secure the Dio version of Black Sabbath, Testament, and Motorhead for a 12-date expedition under the moniker The Master of Metal tour and the fans have been pouring into the venues to catch a glimpse of this once in a lifetime event.

Eddie Trunk was on hand at the PNC event to introduce the bands. “You know this is a classic show when Testament is the youngest band on the bill,” he proclaimed. And true enough, Testament took to the stage as if it were Christmas morning. Chuck Billy and company cranked out a half hour of ear-splitting metal that sounds fresher than most of the older gentleman on the bill, but might be more of a fit for Lamb of God fans than Black Sabbath followers.

Alas, we missed Motorhead because of interview scheduling logistics, but here’s their set list for those wondering what they missed.

1. Dr. Rock 2. Stay Clean 3. Be My Baby 4. Killers 5. Metropolis 6. Over the Top 7. In the Name of Tragedy 8. Just ‘Cos You Got the Power 9. Killed By Death 10. Ace of Spades 11. Overkill

Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio, under the alias Heaven and Hell took the stage as the evening light dimmed. I got the chance to see Sabbath with Ozzy a few years back and it was a disappointment. The Ozzman spent most of the set hovering over his microphone, shivering like an old man rather than exciting the crowd.

Dio did no such thing. The rock legend stomped across the stage like a warrior possessed, pulling off vocals that younger kids would need backing tracks to sing, and dominating the venue. The monster video screens on either side of the stage routinely targeted Tony Iommi, focusing on his wooden nubs working their way up and down the neck of his guitar. From “Mob Rules” through “Sign of the Southern Cross,” the band played  most of their major hits and tacked on a few extra minutes to almost all of the tunes.

After an extended version of “Heaven and Hell,” the band walked off stage as fans screamed for more. A few minutes later, the lights had yet to come on and the fans were screaming for an encore of Neon Knights that never materialized. In a lame show of white trash, the New Jersey audience proceeded to boo Black Sabbath for not returning to the stage. That was just dumb. The band ended up offering an unnecessary apology for the abridged set, citing technical difficulties.

The show stopper, however, was headliner Judas Priest who brought the pain with a set of hits and a smattering of tunes from the band’s new double CD “Nostradamus.” Halford took the stage clad in a gold cloak and matching pitchfork to sing “Dawn of Creation.” The new stuff took a back seat to hits like “Painkiller,” “Electric Eye,” and “Hellbent for Leather” all of which got the packed amphitheater bowing down to their metal master.

Halford’s voice was on point the whole night, reaching notes that just aren’t meant to be hit. The rest of the band galloped around the massive stage as Halford hunched over his bent microphone stand like man possessed. For the encore, Halford rolled out his classic ‘metal’ cycle and performed “Hellbent” mounted to his steel steed.

Priest closed with “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” as fans rushed the stage and were tackled by security one after the other. To his credit, Halford reached out and shook the hand of anyone who actually got on stage. A truer metal band just doesn’t exist any more.

Author: George Koroneos

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