It was one year to the day that I last saw JUDAS PRIEST. That date was November 6, 2014 at the Allen Event Center in Texas. It was also the first time staff photographer Ryan from Ardent Owl Media got the taste for a real arena photo pit and we had a ball. Fast forward to 2015 and I was at The Paramount in Huntington, NY to see the Mighty PRIEST once again, this time with my boys Joe and Mike who I grew up with. Nothing beats going to shows with my hometown crew, and this night was no exception.
The Paramount is really a nice venue with great sound. I hadn’t been there in four years but it felt like yesterday as I walked up to the bar and got me a drink. MASTODON was the opener but we decided to spend that time catching up, especially since I hadn’t seen Mike in forever.
Nothing against the band, as I’m a big fan, and we’ve covered them several times, but after traveling all day I was saving my energy for the boys from Birmingham, England. Shortly after 9 pm the metal festivities began with show and album opener “Dragonaut”, one that never fails to get me going. This of course led right into “Metal Gods” which had our whole section rockin’ as did “Devil’s Child”. I still can’t believe how great this one sounds live and also how fantastic The Metal God Rob Halford sounds 40 years in.
Before we had time to recover, the eerie dual guitar intro to seminal classic “Victim of Changes” began and the audience erupted anew. No PRIEST fan worth their salt can sit still for this tune. Those who do should be flogged in public! Guitarists Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton shine like supernovas when they play these notes, and it’s always a show highlight.
“Halls of Valhalla” is another blistering track from Redeemer of Souls and one I hope is in the setlist for years to come. And then, true to form, the band once again made me go, “Holy shit, they’re playing THIS?!?” by pulling out “The Rage”, bassist Ian Hill’s moment in the sun and one of the most unique tracks in their catalog. Man, what a moment to experience live.
Every PRIEST gig has that one song during which I go crazier than all the others, prompting those around me to watch two shows: the one onstage, and the lunatic before them. Last year was “Love Bites”, this time around it was none other than “Turbo Lover”, a classic that sits on countless playlists and mix CDs here at A&GS HQ.
Halford really nailed this one as well as “Redeemer of Souls” next and “Beyond the Realms of Death”. I used the first half of this one to catch my breath (hey, I’m older now!) before the song really kicked in.
Good thing I did because I was NOT prepared for what came next: “Screaming For Vengeance” from 1982!! I almost hit the floor in disbelief, not only because of the exceptional vocal performance, but the ferocity with which the band played it. Clearly JUDAS PRIEST was taking no prisoners, neither with the setlist nor the way in which they executed it. After picking my brains up off the floor it was time for the familiar strains of “Breaking the Law” and once again I was the loudest person in my section. Of course, the sweet, sweet revving of the motorcycle meant it was time for everyone to get “Hell Bent For Leather” and go ballistic, which we did in spades as the regular set closed.
The first encore was “The Hellion/Electric Eye”, one they omitted last go-round. I was glad to see it back as it is an all-time favorite alongside “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” which followed and turned into quite a sing-along before the band left the stage once again. However, they were NOT finished with us. The battering ram relentless attack of Scott Travis’ drums signaled the start of “Painkiller” with each member bringing a truckload of heavy right alongside him.
“Living After Midnight” was the final song and a perfect way to bring this awesome night of metal to an end.
I have said before that Rob Halford still sounds incredible live, but on this night he was singing like it was his last night on Earth. This was truly magnificent and I can’t believe I was in the building for it. All the band members were terrific, but this show belonged to him from start to finish and was an inspiration.
One of the best parts of the evening was these two teen metalheads right in front of me. They were on their feet, screaming and flying the devil horns all night just like we did at that age (Hell, I STILL do!) and as I looked from them, to my own maniacs Joe and Mike beside me, I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that this band, JUDAS PRIEST has been passed down from one heavy metal generation to another.
All around us were parents and kids, rocking out together and having a blast. That’s what it’s all about. I stopped the two youngsters and their parents before we left just to tell them how happy seeing that made me and to tell them that THEY are what helps keep our metal alive and that THEY are the reason bands like PRIEST will be around forever! What a truly magnificent night of Classic Metal, people!!
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: ANYA SVIRSKAYA