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Concert Reviews:
Headbangers Celebrate Album Anniversaries At DTE

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2009

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Heavy metal is not usually thought of as popular music's most sentimental genre. But anniversaries of some key albums brought Judas Priest and Whitesnake -- as well as about a half-full house of headbangers -- to the DTE Energy Music Theatre on Wednesday night (July 15) to bask in a bit of nostalgia.

The "star" of the show was "British Steel," the 1980 Priest album whose 30th anniversary the quintet has decided to celebrate a year early. The group didn't waste any time, either, opening its 85-minute show with a front-to-back recitation of the set's nine songs, leading singalongs for those that have become staples in the Priest catalog -- "Metal Gods," "Breaking the Law," "Living After Midnight" -- and delighting fans with less exposed tracks such as "Rapid Fire," "Grinder," the reggae-flavored "The Rage" and a particularly fierce version of "Steeler."

Tight and noticeably focused on the task at hand -- and with relatively stark production that included lasers and changing backdrops -- the five members of Priest dug deep into its past for the concert's other selections, too, including "The Ripper and "Victim of Changes" from 1976's "Sad Wings of Destiny," "Freewheel Burning" from 1983 (which frontman Rob Halford sang from the seat of his Harley Davidson motorcycle), "Hell Patrol" from 1990 and its metalized cover of Joan Baez's "Diamonds & Rust" before sending its fist-pumping fans home with a lusty romp through its biggest hit, "You've Got Another Thing Comin'." "Prophecy" from its 2008 concept album "Nostradamus" was the only nod to any idea of a Priest present.

Whitesnake, meanwhile, pulled out TWO songs from its 2008 release, "Good to Be Bad," as part of a curious 70-minute set that ostensibly celebrated the 25th anniversary of the group's breakthrough "Slide It In" album with just two songs -- and played nothing from "Slip of the Tongue," which is celebrating its 20th year. Instead frontman David Coverdale, whose hair retained its trademark '80s fluff, and company pleased the crowd by concentrating on 1987's eight-times platinum "Whitesnake" album and hits such as "Is This Love?," "Here I Go Again," "Still of the Night" and "Give Me All Your Love," though the show might have been served better if the lengthy guitar duel by Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach was shorn in favor of another song.

Grand Rapids' Pop Evil opened the night to a smattering of early fans (going on 20 minutes before advertised start time surely didn't help) but likely won converts with a muscular half-hour that showcased its debut album, "Lipstick on the Mirror," and closed with frontman Leigh Kakaty strolling through the DTE pavilion and all the way up to the lawn during "Hero."

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