There comes a point in the cultural process where distinctions that once meant everything now mean virtually nothing. Witness the pairing of Deep Purple and Judas Priest, the former a progenitor of heavy metal but hardly a metal band themselves (too bluesy, too proggy, too acidy), the later a peak-middle-period heavy metal institution and, indeed, one of the genre’s most self-aware apologists. Kids don’t see the difference. What is really exciting about these two teaming up at Bethel Woods on Sunday, September 2 at 7 p.m. is the band lineups.
Often, these sixth-decade tours feature…you know, the band’s second drummer, the step-grandson of the original road manager and some of the original equipment. Contrast that with the Deep Purple lineup: iconic vocalist and the original Jesus in Superstar Ian Gillian is out front, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most exciting divas of all time. In the back is the only drummer the band has ever known, the great Ian Paice. Original bassist Roger Glover is there, too. If the legendary Hammond B3 abuser Jon Lord were still alive, I’d bet he’d be there too, and Don Airey is no slouch in his stead.
On guitar…well, you weren’t expecting Richie Blackmore, were you? His parting from DP was ages ago, and permanent. Will you take Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs, who has not only been a member DP for several decades but is also one of the greatest living progressive (and country, and fusion, and nylon string, and…) rock guitarists? I am good with Steve Morse. This lineup is hardly just collecting gate. They released an epic new album, Infinite, in 2017, following an unlikely chart-topper in 2013’s Now What?
With Priest, all that matters is that Halford is there. All wounds are healed. They built something special together, and now is the time to just freaking enjoy it, okay? Tickets for this titanic bill range from $66 to $172 reserved, $39 Lawn. For tickets and additional information, visit www.bethelwoodscenter.org. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is located at 200 Hurd Road in Bethel.