Were you there? You had your chance and blew it……… go ahead and admit it – you messed up and missed JUDAS PRIEST!!!!!! That’s okay – 4,300 rabid old-school heavy metal fans were there in your place and they were loving every second of it. Rob Halford and the boys rocked just as hard last night as they did when they burst onto the music scene back in the late 70’s. Covering their extensive history in one long show, they played every imaginable hit song you can think of and even threw in a few new ones.

            Touring mates Black Star Riders and old mates Saxon hit the stage to warm the audience up and both did an excellent job. BSR is really Thin Lizzy version 2.0 and the guys have been busy releasing three albums in their first four years of rocking together. I got there just a few minutes too late to catch their set (have you tried parking in Deep Ellum lately?)

Photo Credit/Brian Ullrich © 2018

Photo Credit/Brian Ullrich © 2018

Saxon needed zero introduction to this audience as they have been laying it down hard and heavy since 1977. While they might have not attained much mainstream recognition, they are loved immensely and are regarded as one of the original, classic metal bands. Opening with the title track to their latest album, Thunderbolt, Biff Byford led his group through a quick & powerfully strong 45-minute set. Touching on a few more new songs (“Nosferatu” and the Motorhead inspired “They Played Rock and Roll”) while pleasing their fans with some golden oldies – Saxon hit the crowd square in the face with classics like “Dallas 1 PM”, “Denim and Leather”, my personal favorite “Wheels of Steel”, and “Heavy Metal Thunder”!!!! Original member Paul Quinn took turns with Doug Scarratt shredding the guitar solos while longtime drummer Nigel Glockler & bassist Nibbs Carter keep up the steady, thunderous beats. Biff’s vocals are still really strong, his stage presence as large as ever and his interactions with the audience fantastic.

You know you’re in the right company when all of your fellow concert-goers are singing Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” at the top of their lungs while waiting for Judas Priest to come out. When the instrumental “Guardians” began over the Bomb Factory, the audience thrust forward in great anticipation. Their newest hit, “Firepower”, began their nearly two hour set and there was not one dull moment throughout. Rob Halford was all over the stage as all eyes were trained on his every move. “Running Wild” contained an amazing guitar solo by Richie Faulkner while the audience had a blast belting out the chorus for Rob during “Grinder”. Another blistering solo highlighted the super fast “Sinner” as Rob’s echoing vocals repeated “sinner” over and over. The loudest roar up to this point came next when Rob let out the loudest scream you’ve probably ever heard during the plodding, groovy “The Ripper”.

Wanting to keep things flowing in the right direction, Judas Priest played a few more new songs off of Firepower and the audience received them all well: the very strong “Lightning Strike” and the flowing back & forth “Evil Never Dies”. But what the hardcore fans came for was classic old Judas Priest and they got exactly what they wanted. The first few notes gave away “Turbo Lover” as the audience sang nearly every word of it with gusto, “Freewheel Burning” ripped through the concert hall like a bat out of hell as I just kept hearing my old college dorm mate Bobby screaming “freewheel burning” over and over again in my head while “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” & “You Got Another Thing Coming” kept the party rolling along.

When the house lights went dark and “Hellion” started to play over the house speakers, the audience perked up once again because they knew that this led directly into one of JP’s all-time greatest hits, “Electric Eye”, during which the crowd was all too happy to sing the chorus for Rob.  The measure chant of “hell bent, hell bent for leather” from 1978’s album of the same title was still as solid today as it was 40 years ago and they finished off the set with the machine-gun fast “Painkiller”.

Not wanting to stop, they returned for a three song encore featuring Glenn Tipton on guitar (just like the old days) – “Metal Gods”, “Breaking the Law” and finally “Living After Midnight” (literally). It was good to see Glenn after his recent Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis and the audience appreciated his inclusion. Bassist Ian Hill was a stalwart with the bass all night, drummer Scott Travis was banging away throughout and fill-in guitarist Andy Sneap played like he’s been in the band for decades. The real show stealer though was Rob Halford who commanded the stage just as fiercely tonight as he’s done for nearly five decades now. He might have lost a step or two (he is actually 66 now), but his distinctive vocal style has never been as sweet & powerful.

All Photos © Brian Ullrich/Musicblendonline 2018

 

  1. Intro
    (War Pigs)
  2. Guardians
  3. The Hellion
  4. Encore:

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