Rust never sleeps, and metal never ages. Not when it's being worked over by Judas Priest's hammer and tongs, anyway. Friday night at Verizon, the Birmingham blacksmiths smelted a sold-out, juiced-up, colors-sporting crowd - metal bands always have the best merch - with all of 1980's British Steel and a smattering of other alloys, from last year's earth-shifting "Nostradamus" to a pulverizing "Diamonds and Rust" (written by Joan Baez, if you can believe that) and, after vocalist Rob Halford climbed off his Harley to lead a football-chant singalong, spark-shooting finale "You've Got Another Thing Coming."
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Born of an England watching the Industrial Revolution breathe its last, British Steel may be an artifact, but it's no relic. Opener "Rapid Fire" shot across the bow with more smoke than your average Lord of the Rings forge, coupling the heft of Priest's Birmingham brethren Black Sabbath to punk rock's gabba-gabba-hey tempo. "Metal Gods" was a self-fulfilling prophecy then and now, and lost anthem "United" brought up at least three generations of devil horns. The sheets of gear-on-gear guitars on "Grinder" required minimal lubrication; "Breaking the Law" and "Livin' After Midnight" were, in a word, loaded.
Friday's most entertaining visual was a toss-up between Priest bassist Ian Hill, clad in a complete leather catsuit, humping holy hell out of his instrument and some kid who couldn't have been more than ten playing the shit out of some air drums while sitting on a trash can. If Whitesnake, who started strong with the barrelhouse boogie of "Love Ain't No Stranger" and "Slow An' Easy" but ran out of gas after the cigarette-long guitar solo, was the soundtrack to Friday's heavy-metal prom - underscored by the aquatic-blue undersea lighting of "Is This Love?" - Judas Priest was the afterparty in the metal shop, where everyone smashes beer cans against their aluminum-plated foreheads until passing out among the welding torches and leather aprons.