Halford Live in Brooklyn (Sold Out!)
By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Saturday, March 15, 2003 @ 10:35 AM
L’Amour. Famous rock club immortalized in the Type O Negative song “Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty Of Infidelity” (“You went to L’Amour/Saturday night…”).
L’Amour. I have seen so many different bands play here throughout the years, in the smaller “old stage” part of the club, as well as the “new stage”, in the back- a larger, bigger venue that used to be the strip club, “Diamonds”. Lots of room here to walk around, three bars to get soaked at, and cutie bartenders with nice cleavage-revealing shirts to distract you between acts. [One of my favorite memories of going to L’Amour took place a few summers ago, when I went out to Brooklyn one evening to pick up tickets for a show the following night. There were these four, large, heavy-set, uh…‘characters’ straight out of The Sopranos sitting in the box office foyer, wearing Adidas running pants and tee shirts, sipping espresso. (L’Amour doesn’t serve espresso). Perhaps this is the reason I have never once seen a fight INSIDE the club, never once seen people pushing each other, yelling at anyone, or generally being unruly, complaining about drink prices, what-have-you… L’Amour is a really fun, well-run club that showcases rock for rockers.] That said, I have never, not once, ever seen a show – a headlining act – start on time. NEVER. Granted, I don’t live there: however, be it glam, punk, heavy, death, goth, thrash, speed, Scando-black, doom, tribute bands, local bands, unsigned bands… not one show has ever gone off on time. The week prior, I was at L’Amour for L.A. Guns. They went on at 1:30AM. When I asked what time “Halford” would be going on in the following week -- the club said “Eleven.”
Yeah, right. Imagine my surprise when my friends and I get there at 11:20, and Halford is already onstage, rocking out.
Oh, L’Amour…. Rob Halford -- “The Metal God” Need I say more?
Well, just this: he is certainly prompt. The club is a sea of black, thick with leather and hair, tattoos and rock t-shirts. You absolutely cannot move. Halford is onstage, screaming. Backed by two guitarists and A HEAVY rhythm section, “The Metal God,” with shaved head and tats on each side, now-trademark goatee, is decked out in a black leather outfit seen prominently on the Crucible CD. He is finishing up a song from this, his latest solo outing under the moniker “HALFORD.” As I move about the club, deftly squeezing between the tightly-packed fans, jockeying for position and peeping between heads to see the legendary metal singer, I find a space to the far right of the stage, near the bar, and begin my stakeout. He is only thirty or forty feet away… and larger than life. There is a short guy, walking around shirtless, coming back from the bathrooms. As he passes, I catch in my periphery, a four-color full back tattoo of the cover of Judas Priest’s Screaming For Vengeance. There are some die-hards here tonight, for sure… The sound coming out of the amps is amazing. The sound coming out of Rob Halford’s mouth is uncanny. High, low, melodic and fresh…and sincere. I try to gather some info into the opening numbers in the set, which I missed. A pretty nice dude in a Defenders Of The Faith t-shirt who is hugging his girlfriend offers the following: “Well, he opened with ‘Jawbreaker’ and then went right into ‘Painkiller’… but after that, well… he just rocked out a bunch of new stuff!” There you have it. I am in time for two songs from the “Fight” years, “Nailed To The Gun” and “Into The Pit.” Limited as he is by the size of the stage, and perhaps used to larger, arena-size venues, Rob Halford makes good use of the space, shaking and twisting and hunched-over growling out vocals, he reminds me of a prizefighter, in the corner of a boxing ring, bouncing and turning in one place, amped and ready…to, uh, “Fight” - (sorry)…
These songs come across so heavy, so laden with the power of the bass and drums, that people’s hands are quaking at their sides, near-spilling their drinks. You’d think everyone in the room had ‘the shakes.’ I am so excited and distracted and, myself, amped, that I feel I am moving at light speed with the songs as they crack and whiz by like so many cars on a highway. People are shouting for their favorite “Priest” songs, of course… but all around me are smiling faces. Rob Halford, in a club. A club. This is one of those nights… mostly you just watch and go “Wow!” Perhaps the single finest moment of seeing Halford live last night came, yes, after midnight. Having delivered a grueling, battering onslaught of screams and wails to accompany the sheer massive double-bass kick and dueling guitar power unleashed upon the capacity crowd -- Rob Halford faced the crowd and began to incite a “call-and-response” sing-a-long of “whoa-yeahs!”. Anyone familiar with this part of track 9 from the second disc of the live CD (Halford – Live:Insurrection) knew what song was going to follow. THIS is why I love seeing metal shows… the excitement of the “live.”
While I might have easily predicted the song that was to come -- I could not have predicted how Rob Halford would interpret it. When, at the end of his call-and-response with the audience, Rob Halford shouts, “Let’s break that fuckin’ law…” -- the band, including Roy Z., and New Jersey’s own “Metal” Mike C. on guitars, ripped into the blistering classic Priest song.
It was…loud…but not as loud as the crowd. The shouts of cheers were so loud, I got chills. LOUD. AN “EVERYONE KNEW THE WORDS” KIND OF LOUD…. How cool was this performance? Well, ask anyone who was there, because they sang the entire song. I’ve never really had such an experience. The 51-year old Mister Halford turned the microphone around, and faced the crowd. With folded arms, and nodding head, he glared out at L’Amour…and with energy and fun -- we all shouted the words.
It was an incredible exciting, funny moment in an evening of unrelenting rock. He never once took the mike over during “Breaking The Law,” he just directed the crowd a bit… and, as was described by a friend, “he was feeling the song on stage.” True. This song might be to Rob Halford what “Satisfaction” is to Mick Jagger… but if he was tired of singing it for the last fifteen years… you could not tell from tonight’s performance.
It was a beautiful, awesome, incredible, thrilling experience to be a part of that audience this night… pressed together like clumps of unwashed hair about to ‘dread’, the crowd wailed and smiled… and sang, shouted, yelled and gave up their best high-pitched wails on the chorus. And the man we had all come to see… beamed from the stage like a proud father. “Living After Midnight” followed, appropriately. He throws in the trademark “your city here” during the line “Got into ______ about 1AM…LOADED! LOADED.” (Naturally, and to wild applause, he said/sang “Brooklyn”…)
Toward the end of the song, the two guitarists traded ear-shattering, mouth-watering solos… with Roy Z, at one point, tipping “Metal Mike” a dollar during his extended lead runs. Halford slumped against the far wall of the stage, making funny faces… Finishing up the song, the band comes out for a theatrical bow, hands locked in a row, savoring the adulation of the crowd. If this man is the one you love to hate… suffice to say that you could only feel the love tonight. Set List (from around 11:20, until show’s end)
“Into The Pit”
“Nailed To The Gun”
“Breaking The Law”
“You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”
“Living After Midnight”
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