When the metal masters, known as Judas Priest, joined Deep Purple and the Temperance Movement, a lineup was created that no true fan of intricate music could pass up. No one who had felt that way at the Riverbend Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, was let down, either.

Starting the bill off was the Temperance Movement. They had a very Black Crowes and Niel Young feel to them, quite rootsy and raw, but with a very clean guitarist when it came time for solo breaks. Songs like "White Bear" got the crowd moving as people roamed in from the concession stands and T-shirt huts.

The Temperance Movement saved the best for last it seemed. The final cut was a song called "Midnight Black" and the solo work was nothing short of captivating. Indeed, the show had been opened with what can be called a new vintage style, setting the stage for mighty Priest.

Judas Priest unleash the metal on the masses

If there was a fault to be had during the night, it was the fact that Deep Purple played after Judas Priest. While both bands gave breathtaking performances (such as "The Dead Daisies Hookers bring real rock to Cleveland"), the high octane metal of Priest perhaps should have been last due to their sheer force. Without mercy, they hit the crowd with their new CD's title song, "Firepower." The CD debuted at No.

5 on the Billboard music charts and has proven to be so successful that a second leg of touring was launched.

"Lighting Strikes" was played from the new disk, as was "Rising From Ruins," a new song that was quite a pleasant surprise to hear. Gone from the set was "Saints In Hell," and in its place was "Freewheel Burning." While both this and "Turbo Lover" were tuned down, the vocal range and prowess of Rob Halford make a person wonder if he is ageless.

His ability to hit the most impossible to reach notes has not diminished in the least as songs like "Sinner" proved beyond all question.

The solo work of Ritchie Faulkner (who replaced K.K. Downing when he departed the Priest machine) was awe inspiring. To those who have seen this technical wizard before, this was expected.

What was good to hear was how well "Firepower" co-producer, Andy Sneap, has grown into his role playing for Glenn Tipton who has Parkinson's Disease and can no longer handle touring. During the last leg (Judas Priest goes on Ohio tour), most of the really complicated solos went straight to Faulkner. He handled them well, but a bit of the legendary Judas Priest trade-off magic was missed on some songs.

This time, while keeping the finger-twisting solos in "Painkiller" for Faulkner, Sneap upheld the prediction of this story's author and others when this leg of the tour found him taking solos in "Turbo Lover," and "Metal Gods." It takes time to produce a CD and it is likely that the tour began prior to him learning all the parts that he wanted to.

If so, he certainly has grown into his role in just a few months.

Attendee Dave Chilson said regarding the tight playing of the whole band, including drummer Scott Travis, bassist Ian Hill, that it was impossible to scream loud enough.

Still, a few diehards simply miss the light touch and nuance of the fiery fast Tipton. "There were things different," said another person in the crowd, a guitarist named Jeff. "Like at the end of 'Turbo,' it changed. There was also that chugging missing or changed or changed in the solo break. Still, it was really good, really really good."

Deep Purple bring a majestic performance

From the opening notes of "Highway Star," it was not only clear that Deep Purple was in tip-top form, but that keyboardist Don Airey (also of Ozzy Osbourne) was going to display why he may just be one of the two or three best living keyboardists in music today.

Singer Ian Gillian (who ironically enough, once replace Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath) has just a bit of a shake to him, but his voice is as young as the new day dawning, something that was apparent from the very start. Drumming legend Ian Paise was nothing short of dynamic and his very nuanced playing style highlighted the groove stomp magic of bassist Roger Glover as solidly as ever.

The most stunning part of the show, however, remains the incredible musicianship of both guitarist Steve Morse and the indescribable talent of Airey. The trade-off solo workings and their impeccable structure was the calling card each time that perfection was needed and expected. It is hard to overstate just how stunning their craftsmanship was.

Classics like "Smoke On The Water" (about the accidental burning down of Frank Zappa's studio with a flare gun) and the epic rocker, "Space Truckin" (also made famous by Christian rockers, Vengeance Rising) were simply unforgettable.

By the time the lights came up, everyone watching could be heard talking about what a great fortune it was to have been blessed with seeing this show. "The speed and conciseness of that keyboard player," said one unnamed fan. "Oh my god."

Clearly, there is still a lot of "firepower" left in these two bands. Let's hope that it happens again.