Judas Priest in Hamburg, Germany-Meister’s Eurotrip 2015: June 8
And so in the continuing adventures of The Meister during his three week Eurotrip extravaganza that began with Sweden Rock Festival and will end with Hellfest Festival in France, he attended the Judas Priest concert in Hamburg, Germany. The concert went down at the Hamburg Sporthalle and featured Five Finger Death Punch as the stage setter. Both bands had just previously appeared at Sweden Rock Festival and both will also be at Hellfest in France, but the rock never stops. Here’s his story:
I began by setting out from my hotel/hostel, The Kogge, in the heart of the Reeperbahn (a seedy red light district in Hamburg). Navigating the public transit metro system proved quite easy and I arrived at the Sporthalle around 5:30PM local time. There were already obvious Judas Priest fans queueing up out front of the venue, with doors set to open at 6PM (or at least that’s what I think “Einlass 18:00” means). I chose to occupy a spot leaning against the railing nearby, waiting for the signal to enter. It was like a tailgate party here before the show outside. What a difference from anything we’d see in North America! In the car park area nearby there were small groups of people with their trunks open, enjoying a beer before going in. Also, it seemed that damn near everyone in line and joining the line had with them a traveller (beer), many with plastic shopping bags containing two or three. It appeared not only acceptable to drink in public such as this but practically required! There were even a couple of guys pushing shopping carts, working the line up and down selling a variety of bottled or canned beers! The customers even returned the empties to their carts, instead of littering them as we are probably more prone to in North America. The whole atmosphere spelled fun and excitement in the anticipation of Judas Priest. Well, either they’re late with things or that word didn’t mean entrance afterall, but finally there appeared to be some movement around 6:30PM. Inside the venue seemed to be an overgrown gymnasium of sorts and the whole thing, from the floor area to the stadium seating on either side, was a free-for-all general admission. Being a short dude and not near the front of the line, the options to be on the barrier or close to were gone and I chose a seat for better vantage points. There were a couple of guys circulating the floor and into the stands a little bit wearing large backpacks and carrying stacks of plastic cups. Again something that will not be seen in North America, these backpacks were coolers laden with bottles of beer! Upon purchase, the beer was poured into one of the plastic cups and the empty bottle put behind his back into a bag suspended under the cooler…German innovation at its finest! This is how we need to do it at The Molson Ampitheatre in Toronto…bring on Judas Priest!
Five Finger Death Punch began right on time at the stroke of 8:00PM to what looked like a fairly packed house. Not being a particular Five Finger Death Punch fan, I had not given them much attention during their appearances at Sweden Rock 2013 and then again a few days ago for 2015, but this was really not too bad at all. A little too modern for me in general with some growly vocals from time to time, but not bad. There was a lot of dreadlocks (head and beard) flying around on stage during the sychronised head banging and the vocalist (Ivan Moody) often removed guitar pics from mike stands and tossed them into the audience. I was also surprised at the lack of “devices” held up in the air as compared to shows in Toronto. There were a couple of small mosh pits that began and ended quickly and even crowd surfing was handled differently here it seemed. For example a young lady surfed to the front of the stage and security simply helped her down and set her free to run along the photo pit and back into the crowd. An audience member was chosen and helped on stage at one point during “Burn MF”, to sing the chorus with the band, he was even given a beer! For their final song, “The Bleeding”, the vocalist worked the photo pit by the barrier from one end to the other, slapping hands with each and every fan, stopping in the centre to bring the song to a close. The setlist (with help from setlist.fm, which I’m sure is incomplete): “Under And Over It”, “Hard To See”, “Lift Me Up”, “Bad Company”, “Burn MF”, “Remember Everything”, what may have been called “Pull Me Under/Save Myself” (or something like this), “The Bleeding”. A recording of “House Of The Rising Sun” played Five Finger Death Punch off stage with vocalist Ivan Moody occasionally singing a few words over top.
Judas Priest dropped their stage covering banner at precisely 9:15PM with “Dragonaut” followed by “Metal Gods”. While I expected this to be the very same setlist Judas Priest had played just a few days ago at Sweden Rock (and also the same as I had seen in Rochester some months ago), I was still pumped, singing along. “Devil’s Child”, a Judas Priest favorite of mine, followed and I’m fairly certain that I heard a little Faulkner flub there with the guitar. The backdrop video screens on the stage displayed different pictures and videos for each song and Rob Halford‘s vocals were still as strong as ever (well, close enough for me anyway). “Victim Of Changes” saw Ian Hill‘s bass guitar bouncing and whipping about, but he never left his all-time stationary spot towards the rear of the stage. I took a few videos throughout the set and “Halls Of Vallhalla” was the next victim, but it seemed that the damn beer guys only passed by me when I was videoing, getting in the way and also preventing me from ordering one with the camera going! “Love Bites” kept the crowd singing loudly and there were more “devices” in use now that Judas Priest had taken the stage. “March Of The Damned” sounded great as had everything else, with “Turbo Lover” trailing closely behind. The floor seemed to be totally jam packed now, but I noticed that the beer kids continued squeezing their way through purporting their wares. “Redeemer of Souls” and “Beyond The Realms Of Death” brought us to “Jawbreaker” which left Rob Halford literally gasping for breath afterwards. “Breaking The Law” saw more crowd surfing and even a little moshing that quickly died out. The sound of the motorcycle revving up announced Rob‘s entrance as he rode the bike on to the stage for “Hell Bent For Leather”. The encore began with “Electric Eye” trailed by “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” as the next choices, but I was starving. So, it was hotdog or die and I vacated my seat for a not-so-good boiled and over priced weiner. “Painkiller” played loudly, easily heard during my choking down of the weiner (perhaps a different phrasing should be used here…lol) out in the lobby area. Knowing that I would see Judas Priest at least once, but probably twice more during this trip, I decided to beat the public transit rush and made my exit from the Sporthalle during “Painkiller”. There can’t be that much more to come anyway given that Priest had been thunderingly rocking the Sporthalle in Hamburg for about an hour and a half now and things had to wrap up at 11:00PM. Turns out I only missed one song in “Living After Midnight” (according to setlist.fm).
Back safely in the area of home, The Kogge Hotel, in the Reeperbahn area. For those not acquainted with the Saxon song on the subject, the Reeperbahn is a red light , so “home safe” is a relative term as everyone is out for your cash! From bums on the street asking for change in German, to pickpockets targeting their marks, to strippers and as advertised above the McDonald‘s no less-“Sex 39E”! Dangerous for sure, and I made it past all those pitfalls but did take the wrong (or right depending on your viewpoint) street after that. The street was absolutely littered with hookers, all calling out and begging me to take them home, some literally accosting me! And I don’t mean the garden variety either, but some of the most beautiful women you can imagine. Check your wallet, phew, still there thank God. Goodnight ladies, I’m “Hell Bent For Bed”!