The 63 minute DVD features a dozen tunes, almost all still staples of the live set and four off Screaming. There’s an innocence (naivety?) about the whole thing: crew members occasionally pop into frame/obscure stars, at random, while primitive live camera experience frequently photographs the wrong guitarist during solos and the minimal cameras, given the enormity of the metal concert (at least 350 thousand), limit the perspectives. However, this is how Priest is remembered by generations: Halford with handcuffs and whip on his studded utility belt, Tipton in red pants, Downing in all black against his blonde mane and bearded Ian Hill just rocking back and forth with his bass (OK, some things never change). Metal Gods indeed! Textbook metal 101. Great crowd shots, from behind Halford, as he thrusts his fist to begin ‘Victim Of Changes’, which features a snippet of lead vocals from Tipton! After 55 minutes, they leave the stage, only to return, Halford using his Harley as a couch, for a quick ‘Hell Bent For Leather’. Funny to see fans up front with their instamatic and 8mm cameras. Wonder where those photos or live film is these days.
So what can one say about a record that was literally millions of people’s entry into metaldom? Like a clarion call, ‘The Hellion’ signifies what’s to come. It’s been used as the live intro almost constantly ever since. ‘Electric Eye’ dovetails nicely (although on the US fest video, it’s played without accompanying intro!), a lively opener on an album that rarely sags. ‘Riding On The Wind’ is airy, keeping up the momentum. Only on the fourth track, ‘Bloodstone’ does Priest downshift, into that groove established via ‘Desert Plains’, ‘Metal Gods’ and ‘Grinder’. ‘Take These Chains’ is a power ballad (before it was popular), with hint of synthesizer. Keeping on the quieter end, there’s the rarely hear ‘Pain And Pleasure’, rivaling the subtle ‘Fever’ as the runt of this litter. Always felt the latter was a cover tune, given the numerous other, similarly titled (and better known) tracks with a similar name. The title cut is quintessential Priest, Halford’s banshee wail on full display. Hit single ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’ has never been a favorite (underground nose upturned by success syndrome?), but the royalty checks are undoubtedly still rolling in on that one. ‘Devil’s Child’ closes things out, an easy sing-along, falling back into that aforementioned groove. Listening back, after many years away, surprising how short the original vinyl is/was. Now augmented with a half dozen bonus tracks, the album still clocks in just a hair over 70 minutes.
The five live versions included are all from oft aired ’82 King Biscuit radio shows (San Antonio TX Civic Center on Sept 10th or Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, TN on Dec 12th) and, for some reason (continuity with the 2001 reissue?) there’s ‘Prisoner Of Your Eyes’, a Turbo era non-album synth ballad.
Regardless of your opinion, can’t deny the historical significance of this platter and on its 30th birthday, still holding up well. Celebrate with the bonus DVD.