I was 8 years old in the summer of 1982. My older brother Wayne discovered Judas Priest, and he somehow brought me along for the ride. While my classmates were jamming to "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," I was headbanging to songs with names like "Sinner" and "Genocide." Did I mention I was EIGHT? Imagine an 8-year-old, dressed in Boba Fett Underoos, singing the lyrics of "Breaking the Law" into a Mr. Microphone. That was me. It's really a wonder I turned out okay.
1982 was also the first full summer of MTV. I like to tell people that Wayne and I were the original Beavis and Butthead, because all we did that summer was sit on the couch and stare at MTV, waiting patiently for the three-minute burst of exhilaration that would rush over us when Judas Priest's video "Heading Out to the Highway" would receive its daily airing. In our opinion, any Judas Priest video ruled. Any non-Judas Priest video sucked. The world was so simple then.
Times have changed since 1982. The Cold War and the "A-Team" were both canceled. The internet has changed the way we receive junk mail. And for the last 19 years or so, MTV has basically sucked ass: A totally unviewable, insipid dung heap that you couldn't pay me to watch. But nostalgia is a powerful thing, and I have since grown to love just about ALL the music that appeared on that channel back in 1982, from Tommy Tutone to Haircut 100. I still get a kick out of those old Priest records. Last Friday night, exactly 20 years later, I had the chance to see my former idols in person.
The show at Sunken Gardens was about what you'd expect from a gang of heavy-metal dinosaurs. Original members Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing, and Ian Hill are all way too old to be wearing those leather outfits, especially leather outfits that are two sizes too small. Still, they manage to rock. Glenn Tipton's guitar sounds as great as ever. The guy is a true Rawwk God.
The band is also greatly improved by the addition of a younger, more talented drummer. Meanwhile, new singer Ripper Owens performs like someone hired to act like former frontman Rob Halford. No wonder: They hired him from a Judas Priest tribute band!
Yet the audience didn't seem to mind, as the band successfully mixed new songs from the current release "Demolition" with Halford-era classics like "Victim of Changes" and "Diamonds and Rust." And by the time they got through an encore that included "You Got Another Thing Coming" and "Livin' After Midnight," the crowd cheered like it was the summer of 1982.
Indeed, nostalgia is a very powerful, very forgiving emotion.