Going for the jugulator in the home of metal 

Although the typically dreary English Bank Holiday weather might have meant the crowd in the Robin isn’t quite what it might have been, it is still a fair bet that there is only one man in here who was the loosely based subject of a film.

Tim “Ripper” Owens is far from the only one to have not been too impressed with the box office bomb that was “Rock Star” (although it had Jennifer Aniston in so surely that is worth some bonus points?) but his story does need holding up as an inspiration.

The one time Judas Priest tribute band singer who ended up fronting the real thing, and who after leaving Priest played with Iced Earth, Charred Walls Of Death, Yngwie Malmsteen and Dio Disciples is an example to all of what can be achieved with a bit of drive, a little luck, but a whole heap of talent.

This tour concerns only one aspect of that career, though, the four years he spent fronting the Metal Gods themselves as for 80 odd minutes he essentially fronts the absolute best Priest tribute band there is – allowing of course for the obvious thought that he was the driving force behind some of these songs himself.

So for every one of the “Jugulator” and “Dominator” era cuts, there is one from the greatest hits shelf too, and that is just fine.

He opens with the first two from the “Jugulator” era as if to emphasise the point. The title track and the superb “Blood Stained” and his voice has very clearly lost none of its power and range. The band he has with him are on top form too and this is a fine foray into his own past.

Owens’ cuts a cheery presence, at odds perhaps with the vicious nature of the music and the lyrics. It is worth saying that some of these songs are from the heavier end of the Priest spectrum, with “Dead Meat” especially crushing here, although there is the huge ballad “Lost And Found” to balance this out.

The chance to hear songs like “Bullet Train”, “Hell Is Home” and “Dead Man Walking” is one that you don’t often get, and Owens’ attacks them perfectly, while his work on the more classic end of the scale – “United”, “The Sentinel” and “Hell Bent For Leather” is exemplary.

Pleasingly the encore follows the same pattern. “Electric Eye” and “Livin’ After Midnight” (which sees Owens on guitar) might be the more obvious crowd pleasers, but it is “One On One” that finishes things rather than a Halford era song.

Quite right too, given that Owens had neatly summed up the ethos of the show earlier in the night. “You know,” he’d said. “These are my songs, and you aren’t gonna see Priest play them, so if anyone is gonna it might as well be me….” On that point and many others too, Tim “Ripper” Owens hit the nail squarely on the head and although it might have been good to see him do some things from elsewhere in his career, he proved to be a formidable talent in his own right.

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