When one thinks of the term “heavy metal” the first name that comes to mind synonymously is Judas Priest. So it was no surprise when the band kicked off their first tour since 2012 Wednesday night inside the hot, cavernous Main Street Armory in Rochester that there was an anticipation of things in the air. How would the band sound? What songs would the band play? Would they focus on the new material too much? Does the band still have it? All of these questions were answered and then some.
Priest last played the Armory during the Epitaph Tour in November 2011. That show featured the same lineup as Wednesday evening which included vocalist Rob Halford, drummer Scott Travis along with bassist Ian Hill and guitarists Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner.
Judas Priest originally had the intention of making the Epitaph Tour their farewell tour but have retracted the statement. Halford addressed the audience by telling the near capacity crowd of close to 5,000 that they missed being on stage too much to leave at this junction. The crowd roared on in approval as fans from all over Rochester, Buffalo and the surrounding areas showed the band they made the correct decision. To witness the crowd singing the chorus of “Turbo Lover” without any help from Halford was a sight to behold.
The band took the stage kind of late for a weeknight as they didn’t go on until about 10:15 PM. That is the deal with first shows of a tour, you never can know what to expect. Coincidentally this was not the first time Priest chose the western New York area to kick off a tour. The band’s Defenders Of The Faith tour was launched at the now defunct Niagara Falls Convention Center back in 1984. Oddly enough the band chose to represent that very album with songs which had not been played in the live setting in quite a number of years. “Love Bites”, “Jawbreaker” and the title track proved to be just a few of the many highlights of the evening.
The show featured no less than four new songs culled from its latest release, Redeemer of Souls including the show opener “Dragonaut”. While I can understand the band wanting to give the fans a taste of the new album, two or three songs would have been sufficient. With several regular songs such as “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)”, “Painkiller” and “Heading Out To The Highway” all missing in action, their addition to this reviewer’s estimation would have made a much stronger set.
As Halford took his customary motorcycle ride for “Hell Bent For Leather” it dawned on me that once this band decides to finally call it a day that this will truly be the end of an era. There are no other bands out there today that will be able to carry the torch and do old school metal justice like Priest has done it the past thirty-plus years. The duel guitar attack of Tipton and Faulkner’s predecessor K.K. Downing will surely go down in the annals as one of the best guitar tandem’s ever. Combine that with the searing vocals of Halford, wrap everything in leather and metal and you have a band that helped create a genre, and still to this day are respected in the highest regard.
How many tours and albums the band has left in them remain to be seen. As Halford led the crowd through the tradition of screaming Judas Priest at the conclusion of the show, one thing was certain as The Priest was back and all was right with the world at least for one night.
Steel Panther kicked things off as they delivered a set that reminded one of numerous bands from the 1980s. They are described as a band with raunchy, humorous lyrics and an emphasis to portray the look of an 80s band, yet come across almost like a spoof. The band’s set consisted of several songs that describe things in the decade of excess. Songs such as “17 Girls In A Row”, “Girl From Oklahoma” and “Death To All But Metal”, stood out during the bands sixty-five minute set.
Victim Of Changes
Halls Of Valhalla
March Of The Damned
Redeemer Of Souls
Beyond The Realms Of Death
Breaking The Law
Hell Bent For Leather
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Living After Midnight
Defenders Of The Faith