Monday, March 26, 2018

Judas Priest concert review

Black Star Riders, Saxon and Judas Priest
The Anthem
Washington DC
March 18th, 2018

The mighty Priest descended upon the nation's capital on an unusually warm March evening. Opening up were Black Star Riders who released their third album last year. This was of course the band that was formed out of was left of the band that was still calling themselves Thin Lizzy. Their sound is sort of a 90's hard rock mixed with occasional traces of Irish music. They come on just a few minutes late and the venue is maybe half filled. Their stage presence was steady but for me they were very average. I was glad to see veteran guitarist Scott Gorham still going at enjoying what he was doing.
Highlight-Probably them doing Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak.

The Anthem begins filling up nicely after their set and the banner goes up with the cover of Saxon's latest release Thunderbolt while the roadies get their gear set up. More people are pushing to the front because let's face it even though we were mainly there to see the Priest plenty of us were also there to see the NWOBHM legends as well. The band emerged in the dark and when the lights came on they erupted. It's hard to tell what older bands might be good or not live, but Saxon seem to tour constantly and they were on fire. There set was a mix of tracks from the newest release Thunderbolt and classics from their heyday between 1980 and 1984. The place was about filled early into Saxon's set and the crowd was into them the whole time. Biff Byford interacted well with the crowd even borrowing a denim vest from someone in the crowd, slipping it on and then launching into Denim and leather. They did what a good opening act should do which is get the crowd pumped up for the headliner and the mighty Saxon delivered.
Highlights-The whole set really, but if forced to choose I'd say The power and the glory, Denim and leather, Princess of the night and the closer Heavy Metal Thunder.

The crowd begins pushing up to the front as  the curtain is dropped for Judas Priest's road crew to get their gear and stage set up. This was only my second time seeing Priest as the first time was way back in 1990 on the Painkiller tour. It seemed like we waited an eternity and then War Pigs comes on and everyone begins singing along as we know the start is near. Guardians the instrumental from the new album comes on then bam the curtain goes down, the metal gods appear and they launch into the title track from their latest Firepower and it's on. I have to admit I did not like the Ripper Owens era nor was I big on the first three albums with Halford back at the helm, but Firepower is their best album in decades and live it was like they hadn't lost a step at all. Faulkner went in for the retired KK seven years ago and of course Andy Sneep is in for the ailing Glen Tipton, but it's still Priest. After the opener they went into a number of songs they hadn't played as much live in recent years which only got the crowd more into it. The pace was relentless and they kept hammering the crowd with killer tracks like Bloodstone and Running Wild. Then now forgetting about the new album they went into Lightning Strike the first release off the new album. Next up was Saints in hell from Stained Class and this is of course the first tour they have played this song live. I was singing along and this guy about half my age puts his hand on my shoulders and says "sing it, man, sing it" and we both did as loud as we could. One of the great things about this show wasn't just that younger people showed up for this but that they knew the old Priest (and Saxon) songs and were just as thrilled and familiar with something like Saints in hell and Sinner as they were with the band's more known tracks. Halford ruled the stage knowing they were in control. Ian Hill stays semi in the background as always but is obviously into it too. Scott Travis (nearly 30 years in the band now) is a machine behind the kit. Richie Faulkner has gone from being the new guy to being a center of the show and making it look easy. Some people have criticized Andy Sneep saying he lacks stage presence or whatever but remember he is filling in as Glen has not left the band so I think Andy is being respectful and filling his role. He did very well at that in my opinion. Anyways back to the show Priest had everyone eating out of their hands as even turbo lover and Angel sounded good live. Some heads are gonna roll had the place buzzing with intensity. It got even louder with Rob road his motorcycle out and they launched into Hell bent for leather. Scott Travis got to introduce Painkiller and pit of about 20 or so people opened up near me. It was insane by this point which was all cool. After that they came back for the encore and Electric Eye had the place bouncing, Metal Gods had the place singing at a deafening level and the expected tracks You've got another thing comin' and Livin' after midnight closed out their set. The band rightfully took a bow and excited and the screen above them proclaimed the Priest would be back. Holy crap somehow, someway they were just as good as they were when I saw them in 1990. I had my doubts going into it, but the legendary band delivered (yeah, the goods). I made my way out into the air and like everyone else still standing around I was talking non-stop about how amazing that was. If you get a chance to see them  then yes see them on this tour.

Highlights-Yeah, the whole things, but if I have to narrow it down then Running Wild, Bloodstone, The Ripper, Saints in hell, Painkiller and Electric Eye.

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