REVIEW: Judas Priest – Live in London (2003)

JUDAS PRIEST – Live in London (2003 SPV)

A second live album to go with a second Ripper studio album seemed excessive.  Double live albums, both.  ’98 Live Meltdown was a suitable way to get fans familiar with Ripper Owens’ spin on Priest tunes.  With only one new studio album between them, was 2003’s Live in London necessary?

Maybe not “necessary”, but certainly beneficial.  Wisely, Priest avoided double-dipping on many songs.  Eight songs were not on ’98 Live, including old classics like “Desert Plains”, “Heading Out to the Highway” and the rarely played “United”.  Notably, “Turbo Lover” was back in the set for the first time since 1987; no longer an embarrassing pariah but slowly becoming a classic.  It’s also a stronger album sonically than ’98 Live, with guitars more in-your-face.

Ripper is commanding.  On the Live in London DVD, he spoke about his stage attire.  He would come out on stage dressed in the leathers, but after a song or two, changed into a baseball cap.  He was clearly more comfortable just being himself.  And that translates into him sounding comfortable on album.

The new songs from Demolition included are “One On One”, “Feed On Me”, and “Hell Is Home”.  It’s hard to ignore the modern sonic touches like Morello-inspired guitar noises.  All decent enough tunes, but up against the back catalogue of the mighty Priest, they just disappear into the scenery.

One of the most impressive performances is all 10 minutes of “Victim of Changes”, probably the longest jam of the song you are likely to find.  KK’s guitar solo is mental.  “Diamonds and Rust” is the same acoustic version they played on the previous tour, but “Turbo Lover”…oh baby!  It is strange hearing anyone other than Rob Halford singing it, but this Priest is convincing enough.  It is largely stripped clean of the synths, as Priest seemed scared of this part of their history.  “Desert Plains” is also special — Ripper just lets loose a molten scream at the start.  This is the only version available with Ripper, or Scott Travis on drums.  Scott nails the pulse of “Desert Plains”.  Another special song is “Running Wild”, rarely played, from Hell Bent For Leather.  It’s joyful to hear.  Ripper really screams it up.  The oddball anthem “United” is heavier with the guitars amped up, but it’s definitely the one that sticks out like a sore thumb.

So how does Live In London stack up “One On One” against ’98 Live Meltdown?  It’s more well-rounded, and has two more tracks.  That means room for more old rare classics.  Overall the new Jugulator material worked better in concert than the Demolition stuff, which is an element in the favour of ’98 Live.  Both albums are so close to equally enjoyable that’s there’s no point in splitting hairs.  Just hit play and enjoy a “lost” era of Judas Priest that wasn’t bad at all.

3.5/5 stars

 

28 comments

    1. Although I do consider 98 Live to be the better performance. Setlist of London is far better though, except for dropping “Grinder” for “United”. Gah!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, this one is. Rob’s sounds flat and thin after hearing this one. Just listen to the delivery on the “I rebel but I walk tall, and I demand respect!” line.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Honestly, if I were to hear Judas Priest for the first time with Ripper, I would’ve liked them either way. I’m glad he didn’t try to copy Halford because that’s why Adam Lambert fit so well with Queen, he didn’t try to copy Freddie.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Correct on both counts. Ripper had a hard time being accepted just like any replacement singer does. But I think he earned the fans’ respect because he was always very classy, and respectful of Rob and Judas Priest. He did justice to the tunes under difficult circumstances. They didn’t have nearly as much success with him.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess for me it was hard to wrap my head around these bands that I grew up with a decade and a half earlier and they are changing lead singers left and right. lol
    Also having a young family at the time dictated where my dollars could be spent as there was no iTunes or anything where I could score music cheap.
    In other words I had to be selective in purchasing music.
    From the stuff I read Ripper delivered the goods live(see what I did there??) but the reviews of both studio records just did not do it for me and I couldn’t gamble on stuff like this as it totally came down to financial reasons…
    Enjoyed the read and like yesterdays post never knew this existed lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hate to say this but even as a Priest fan I have to say those albums are for the diehards. It doesn’t make sense to have the Ripper albums, but not all the Robs first. I’m sorry but that’s just the way it is. And it’s not Ripper’s fault. Without Rob, they simply were not writing the same quality songs. Obviously Rob must be important to the songwriting process because there’s a stark difference when he’s gone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True it’s funny as all the bands that changed singers in the early to mid 90s only Motley Corabi sold as it went Gold and that was considered a bomb. Even VH 3 only went Gold..

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        1. Where were you living in 2003? You emailed me and asked if I had the version with the silver outer case. I said no, and you sent it to me! LOL but that happens a lot with you!

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        2. 2003 we were in Saskatoon, that was the year my lovely wife and I got married! Man that sounds like something I’d do but I have no memory of it at all! Right on!

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  3. My experience with Priest and Ripper was to ignore it. I also ignored Halfords Fight project as well.

    Like Deke, the reviews didn’t really make me interested and I had to be selective with my dollars. But 2020 is a good time to start to listen to em, but that whole JP/Ripper history is not on iTunes. It’s like the band didn’t exists between 1990 and 2005.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Have you never listened to Fight? I think their second album was pretty weak, but the first was one I liked a lot. At that time. I don’t know how I would feel today as I have not played it in several years. I was an angry young man and that was one of the angriest albums I ever heard.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s exactly what it is. It’s a Pantera album. Although not with the vocals.
          The vocals are mostly screaming. He had a second vocalist named Jay Jay who did the hardcore singing.

          Satchel from Steel Panther was one of the two guitarists and you can tell they were going for a Dimebag tone. Scott Travis was the drummer. Funny but the other two guys Brian Tilse and Jay Jay never went anywhere.

          Liked by 1 person

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