Review: Masters of Metal, Houston


It was a beautifully metal moment: at the same moment guitar god Tony Iommi begins his bone-chilling solo in the song “Time Machine,” a bolt of lightning slashes across the sky above the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.  The Masters of Metal tour rolled through Houston Saturday night (Aug. 23) and despite this impromptu effect, most of the pyrotechnics were on the stage.

The bill included Testament, Motörhead, Heaven and Hell and headliners Judas Priest.  That lightning bolt may have been a sign from an irritated deity, because Heaven and Hell should’a been the headliners.  Formerly Black Sabbath (the band reserves that name for the lineup that includes Ozzy Osbourne) and led by Ronnie James Dio, the veteran heavy rockers turned in a short set that rocked from start to finish.  The highlights included opener “The Mob Rules” and, of course, an extended “Heaven and Hell” that closed the set.  But the crowd, roused by Dio’s supreme showmanship and Iommi’s brilliant lead guitar, begged for more and they got a rockin’ “Neon Knights.”

Motörhead, led by former Hendrix roadie Lemmy Kilmister, also rocked.  They wisely kept songs from their newest, Motörized, to a minimum but turned in great versions of their masterpieces “Ace Of Spades” and “Killed By Death” as their 11-song set hit the homestretch.  My favorite moment of the entire evening was right after “Ace,” Lemmy said: “Don’t forget us.  We are Motörhead, and we play ROCK AND ROLL!!!”

Rob Halford (photo borrowed from Judas

By the time Judas Priest hit the stage, the crowd may have been a little over-rocked and the Priest’s pompous stage act didn’t help.  After a ponderous instrumental intro, the song “Prophecy” from their latest album Nostradamus started things off with lead singer Rob Halford all but unrecognizable in a silvery hooded robe.  The Priest’s onstage momentum halted time and again as most of the band (except the drummer) left the stage after each song, presumably to switch out instruments and in Halford’s case, a quick costume change. 

But the Priest’s songs were just not as good as Heaven and Hell’s: although Halford and Co. ripped through many of their familiar songs it was kind of tough to know what was what due to a muddy sound system.  For the encore Halford, dressed like the gay biker in the Village People, roared out on a motorcycle and delivered “Hell Bent For Leather” before the band finally closed it out with “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.” 

No lightning bolts here – Judas Priest rocked Houston right up to the 11 p.m. curfew, but Heaven and Hell had the Metal Gods on their side. 

MP3: “Time Machine” (Wayne’s World version) by Heaven and Hell

MP3: “Prophecy” by Judas Priest

MP3: “Ace Of Spades” (live) by Motörhead

One Response to “Review: Masters of Metal, Houston”

  1. Great review. I’m in total agreement. Heaven & Hell were the act to see last Saturday.

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