Released on VHS way back when as Judas Priest – Live! and previously available on DVD exclusively in the Judas Priest – Metalogy boxed set, 1982's Judas Priest – Live Vengeance '82 is a fantastic full length performance from Priest in their prime. While the die hard fans will no doubt already have the disc, for those of us who didn't pick up the boxed set, this is a key piece of any Judas Priest fans collection and a great time capsule of the metal scene that the early eighties gave us.
What's amazing, when listening to this show, is just how much Priest hasn't changed in the last few decades. Sure, Halford left the band for a while and before he did they recorded Painkiller, an insanely heavy record by Judas Priest standards, but when they reformed and put out Angel Of Retribution it was almost like nothing had changed and that more recent recording is an obvious throw back to the Judas Priest of old, that very same Judas Priest who rock our asses off for ninety plus minutes on this DVD. It's also interesting to note that, aside from the obvious addition of newer tracks, the set list hasn't changed much from this show to their performances on the last tour. It's almost as if the band is stuck in a time warp or something, a leather and stud clad time warp full of Harleys and sweat, but a time warp none the less.
Halford, looking really young here, belts out the hits with some serious enthusiasm. He gets the crowd into it and you can hear them singing along during some of the more popular numbers like You've Got Another Thing Comin' and Breaking The Law but even when they're all chanting the chorus in unison, Halford's vocals dominate the mix. His voice is strong and sharp and while he can still pull it off live even now, here he's at his youthful best, truly belting it out and hitting notes no mortal man should be able to hit (hence solidifying his status as one of the Metal Gods he sings about four tracks into the show).
It's not all Rob's show, however. Guitar players Glen Tipton and K. K. Downing bring some seriously fast duel guitar attacks to the forefront of the band's sonic assault. The drum and bass combo is heavy and rhythmic and completely slick – these guys have some serious playing chops and they bring it all to the stage. Halford might posses the flamboyancy and vocals that a great front-man should have but the band that backs him are just as important to the sound of Judas Priest (as evidenced by Halford's solo records – they're alright, but they're not Judas Priest!).
While the fashions that the band sport, mainly leather and metal studs, are plenty easy to make fun of (was anyone shocked when Halford came out of the closet?) and at times the band members look like the 'leather man' from the Village People, the performance contained on this DVD completely delivers everything that you'd expect from a vintage Judas Priest show. Screaming vocals, heavy riffs, pounding drums, flashing laser lights and lots of sweaty leather. Plenty of lighting effects (and bad eighties video effects obviously done in post production) highlight the action and it's as garish and tacky and fantastic as you would hope for.
The full track listing for the concert is as follows:
The Hellion/Electric Eye
Riding On The Wind
Heading Out To The Highway
Breaking The Law
Diamonds And Rust
Screaming For Vengeance
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Victim Of Changes
Living After Midnight
The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)
Hell Bent For Leather
The fullframe image on this release was captured using multiple cameras and so the cinematography is pretty decent, but the video quality does leave a little to be desired. With video cameras being what they were in 1982, it's understandable that the source material doesn't look perfect and you can expect to see some fading in the brighter colors on the screen as well as some moderate ghosting in the image from time to time. That being said, the disc is well authored in this department and there aren't any problems with mpeg compression or edge enhancement – just keep in mind this concert recording is almost a quarter of a century old and it shows. The performance is definitely watchable, but don't expect it to look as good as the more recent Judas Priest – Rising In The East DVD from 2005.
You've got your choice of enjoying the concert in either a PCM 2.0 track or a newly created Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track, both in their native English language. No closed captions or subtitles are provided, but it's a concert disc so you can't really expect them. The Surround Sound track has the added bonus of putting the audience directly behind you where as in the 2.0 mix that distinction isn't quite as clear, but both mixes on this DVD do sound very good. Bass response is tight and lively the high end is definitely high but it's never shrill and the drums sound great here. It's a clean and powerful sounding performance given a clean and powerful sounding representation on DVD.
Aside from an incomplete discography for the band, and a chapter/song selection for the concert, this disc is without any extra features at all.
While the video quality is less than perfect and there aren't really any legitimate extra features to add value to the package, Judas Priest – Live Vengeance '82 is still a great concert DVD from a truly classic metal band at the height of their powers. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.