The Show: Wednesday, August 1, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Aska, Unloco

By Piet Levy

There’s a recent publicity photo of Judas Priest circulating on the internet that’s must-see. In it, the band’s current charismatic young lead singer, Tim “Ripper” Owens, stands center-frame, grinning smugly. On either side of him slouch older men, originals from the Priest’s salad days in the ’70s, skin leathery and beaten, their enthusiasm all but dead. They don’t look like “musicians” but ghosts, hovering over Ripper, their only connection to the world of the living. You gotta wonder what keeps these guys from collapsing in a silver-studded heap.

The cynic would suggest electric bills, car payments, and groupies. Of course the band members would protest that they still have something to say — even though it’s essentially the same old song. Nearly 30 years since its birth, the Priest continues to rawk as if it were yesteryear. The drums still beat an overly familiar thunderous roar, and Ian Hill’s bass remains barely audible; the only saving graces are the disorienting guitar licks of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton (the duo has kept pace with the rest of the ax-wielding world). Meanwhile, Ripper’s ride on the frontline hardly compares to the “leather-lunged” fury of his holy predecessor, Rob Halford, who has since moved on to a successful solo career, fronting an eponymous nihilistic metal outfit.

But who needs dignity anyway? We’re talking Judas Priest here, tenacious showmen who butchered a cover of “Johnny B. Goode,” who professed to the world they were “Hell Bent for Leather,” and who today sing of cyberkillers with deadly megabytes! But here’s an admission: They’re still greasy good fun. When the dust settles and the why’s cease, the Priest can still conjure up a lighthearted, screw-Reaganomics, live-and-let-live vibe ... despite what any web photo suggests.

Sat with Aska, Unloco at the Canyon Club in the Bronco Bowl, 2600 Fort Worth Av, Dallas. $32.00. 888-597-7827.


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