[Summer Concert Series] Judas Priest at the Mid-South Coliseum
Summer is concert season, and as part of our own summer concert series, we're putting the spotlight on places that have witnessed some of the most memorable musical performances in American history. Some are traditional venues, and others… well, not so much. But they all have two things in common: terrific music and fascinating history.
Performer(s): Judas Priest (Rob Halford, K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, and Dave Holland)
Venue: Mid-South Coliseum
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Date: December 12, 1982
Memorable Moment: The absurd coordinated guitar playing/dancing of Downing and Tipton, sometimes joined by Halford when the mood struck him.
Show Vibe: Hey man, it was the ‘80s. (Thrusts thumb, index, and pinky fingers into the air.)
The Full Program
Judas Priest’s 1980 album British Steel was the metal band’s first release to break into the U.S. Top 40, but its 1982 album Screaming for Vengeance went platinum and its subsequent tour cemented the British band into the American popular music scene.
On December 12, 1982, the tour rolled into Memphis, Tennessee’s Mid-South Coliseum. The band, clad in studs and leather, and shrouded in smoke and burnt hair, wowed the packed house with hits like Breaking the Law and You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.
The performance was later released on VHS (remember those?) as Judas Priest Live in 1983 and again on DVD in 2006 as Live Vengeance ‘82. (No news yet as to when it’ll be streaming on Netflix.)
In 2000, the National Park Service thought the Mid-South Coliseum was also worth remembering and listed it in the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1964 at a cost of $4.7 million, the Modernist brick and concrete building hosted everything from minor-league hockey to professional wrestling. (Anyone remember Mr. Perfect?)
Though the Coliseum closed in 2006, the Coliseum Coalition organization was formed in January 2015 with the goal of saving the historic structure and returning it to good use.