I was surprised to see this album was reissued in 2007 as Live in Concert. When I got it back in 1998, the record label was immediately served with a “cease and desist” because Priest had just released their own official ’98 Live Meltdown album, and this one isn’t authorized by the band. It’s a radio broadcast from 1980, the British Steel tour. It doesn’t even have the right drummer pictured on the back! The album was swiftly deleted and disappeared from store shelves, and most fans didn’t know it had come and gone. (Also, at the exact same time, Sony issued another compilation called Priest Live and Rare, further muddifying the clarification.) After it was deleted, I acquired this CD from Tom who had just opened his own branch of the Record Store. I paid $19.99, used.
As an unofficial part of the Priest discography, In Concert is worth picking up. Although Priest had released the live Unleashed in the East in 1979, Concert Classics was recorded in 1980 after British Steel. Therefore, a lot of crucial future Priest classics had been added to the set. You can’t argue with the tunes inside. Recorded live in Denver (you can tell this when Halford yells, “What you say, Denver!” right before the guitar solo in “Green Manalishi”), some of these tracks are lost gems. It’s nice to have the CD alongside Unleashed, as a companion.
The sound quality is OK, it’s not up to the standards of Unleashed (obviously). The vocals are not mixed loud enough. The bass on the other hand is mixed way too loud, and Ian Hill is not that interesting as a bassist. The band is also not the same lineup as the year before, due to the replacement of Les Binks by Dave Holland. Holland is a very blocky, robotic drummer. Play “Green Manalishi” for an idea of how the two drummers differ. Priest with Holland was that much weaker for it. I don’t think anyone would argue the point that Priest sound better without Dave Holland on drums.
Having said that, the rest of the band are playing great, and Halford’s voice was in fine, peak shape. He was able to hit all the notes in “The Ripper”. He didn’t quite nail the one on “Victim of Changes”, but he was close! This doesn’t sound like there were any overdubs or other assorted mess-arounds. Which is the way I like it.
Other notables: No “Metal Gods” (although the concert opens with the metal hammering sound from that song). “You Don’t Have to be Old to be Wise” is a nice surprise, and it sounds great live! There are plenty of tunes from Sad Wings and British Steel, a trio from Hell Bent, and samplings from Sin After Sin and Stained Class. The set list is well rounded.
3/5 stars. Somewhat collectible, since Priest would probably like this CD to be buried. Good tunes, and an important era of Priest history documented on CD for the metal historian.