Halford

Live in Anaheim

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This double-disc documents Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford's solo band at its absolute peak, live in 2003, right after the release of the group's second album, the acclaimed Crucible. Halford was an astonishingly tight, heavy band, propelled by the drumming of the ferociously talented Bobby Jarzombek (Riot, Spastic Ink) and featuring "Metal" Mike Chlasciak on lead guitar. The primary set includes 11 Judas Priest songs along with eight by either Halford or Fight, plus a version of "Light Comes out of Black," the song Halford recorded with Pantera as his backing band for the soundtrack to the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's clearly recorded in a smaller venue than the places he played with Priest, as his stage banter has a much more intimate quality -- at one point he says "I'll get to you all one by one," and invites people to come down front and get in the pit -- and the applause is that of a gathering of hardcore fans, not the formless roaring of a sold-out arena. But going back to his roots was Halford the man's point in starting Halford the band, and his performance has a thrilling intensity. Furthermore, Halford had some great songs on its two albums. "Resurrection," "Made in Hell," and "Handing Out Bullets" had metal power in spades, and "Golgotha" is a crushingly heavy doom track. Indeed, these performances make some of the Priest tracks feel rote by comparison; the band tears through "Breaking the Law," with the crowd cheering the choruses, at Motörhead/Ramones speed, like they're fulfilling a contractual obligation. On the other hand, they really dig into "Victim of Changes," sprawling it out into a ten-minute epic à la Deep Purple's version of "Child in Time" from Made in Japan. And the last song of the body of the disc, "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," is stretched to nearly eight minutes with singalongs and crowd interaction. Four bonus tracks, recorded at a later gig in Japan, have a little bit more polish, but less crowd noise. In any case, Live in Anaheim (also available on DVD) is a terrific live document of an under-recognized period in Rob Halford's storied career.

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