Review: Halford – LIVE at Rock in Rio III [DVD 2008]

By Peter O’Brien

Legendary singer and Metal God, Rob Halford screams his way across the big screen in the new documentary – HALFORD – Resurrection World Tour: LIVE at Rock In Rio III, which made its theatrical premiere this week at the Village East Cinema in NYC. The film provides an in-depth profile of the Metal God’s return to heavy metal and the culmination of Halford’s performance at Rock In Rio III on January 19th, 2001. After almost eight years the world can see and hear what Halford’s resurrection of heavy metal was like in front of a quarter of a million people when the DVD hits the stores on October 7th, 2008.

The event [Rock In Rio III] has been synonymous with a revival in the heavy metal genre since it happened in January of 2001. Iron Maiden headlined the event as part of their “Brave New World” tour, which saw the return of front man Bruce Dickenson after a six-year hiatus. It also saw one of the first performances of Guns n’ Roses with their new line up featuring avant-garde guitarist Buckethead and Bryan “Brain” Mantia on drums. This show also marked the end of the line for Halford and his new band after playing a 95-city world tour in support of their new album Resurrection, which was released August 8th, 2000 on Metal-Is records.

The film chronicles the selection of Halford’s new band members and their role in the writing and recording of Resurrection. Each band member supplies a simple, straight-forward interview (including Halford) discussing why they were selected for this band and what their expectations were working with the Metal God – Rob Halford. The general consensus was to move away from Halford’s other experimental bands (Fight & 2wo) of the 90’s and return to his heavy metal roots that he established with Judas Priest almost thirty years earlier. The interviews are inter-cut with behind the scenes and backstage footage of rehearsals, sound checks, and even recording in the studio. They all take place in front of a simple black background with the respective band member discussing the experience of being recruited and recording the new material. These interviews are in turn inter-cut with a thirteen camera live recording of Halford’s performance at Rock In Rio III in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

As the film progresses the focus turns more towards the recording of the songs than the member’s perspectives of working with Halford. There is a lot of footage of Halford laying down vocal tracks in the studio and discussing the meaning behind some of the songs such as “Silent Screams.” These segments are often followed with a live performance of the song from the Rock in Rio show. One of the highlights and quite possibly the most interesting segment of these recording sessions is when they discuss “The one you love to hate” (featuring Iron Maiden vocalist – Bruce Dickenson). Seeing the two metal icons side by side in the vocal booth and how they work together is incredibly insightful. There are times during this segment when you can tell that Halford seems slightly intimidated and humbled by Dickenson’s vocal capability, which in turn pushes him to step up his own performance.

The live performance is what really what captivates the viewer. From start to finish the band never lets up the intensity and enthusiasm of performing these songs, which include the new material as well as classics and obscure hits from both Fight and Judas Priest. Although Halford remains stationary for most of the performance the notes and range he achieves vocally brings an aural element to the performance that otherwise would not have been present. Visually his presence alone is something to be noted as part of the performance. He stands dressed head to toe in studded and spiked leather – looking like something out of Mad Max. Audience member Ray Zablocki said about Halford’s presence, “he looks like he came from the future to sing about what’s going to happen to mankind.”

The real highlight of this performance is the conclusion where Halford comes out with the Brazilian flag hanging around his neck. He warms up the crowd – enticing them to sing along and finally asking the question, “Breaking the what?” The band then kicks into a savage rendition of the Judas Priest classic from British Steel. Halford simply walks up and down the stage holding the microphone out to the 200,000+ audience members who provide the lead vocals to “Breaking the law.” That alone is a testament to the power of music and it’s limitless boundaries to reach and affect people.

The film that was screened theatrically may be a combination of elements present in the release. That is to say the two may appear separate in the home video release giving you the full concert and then an in-depth documentary on the band. Fans of Halford and Judas Priest will thoroughly enjoy this release, as will fans of the heavy metal genre. The DVD that is to be released on October 7th also includes a remastered edition of the Resurrection album with three brand new bonus tracks.

The Band:

Rob Halford – Vocals

Metal Mike Chlasciak – Guitars

Patrick Lachman – Guitars

Roy Z. – Guitars

Ray Riendeau – Bass

Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Set:

1. Resurrection

2. Made In Hell

3. Locked And Loaded

4. Into The Pit

5. Nailed To The Gun

6. Stained Class

7. Jawbreaker

8. Silent Screams

9. Cyberworld

10. Nightfall

11. The Hellion

12. Electric Eye

13. Metal Gods

14. Breaking The Law

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