Heavy Metal Gods JUDAS PRIEST lit up the stage for almost two hours for an explosive high voltage concert at The Bomb Factory in Dallas, TX promoting their new studio album Firepower. The band unleashed their most wicked, creative, and mind melting songs from their back catalog of nearly five decades. That alone is cause for a celebration! I arrived when the doors opened and the line to the entrance was already four blocks long, confirming it was going to be a night of total metal mayhem. The crowd was in high spirits and ready to party.
Rob Halford (lead vocals), Richie Faulkner (guitar), Ian Hill (bass), Scott Travis (drums), and Andy Sneap (guitar), who also co-produced the album, have been tearing it up on this tour. Sneap is filling in for longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton who recently announced his retirement from touring full time due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease. He remains in the band and it has been stated he would make appearances periodically with health permitting. This left fans pondering…would Tipton grace us with his presence tonight? Either way it is both his and Faulkner’s masterful guitar work in its entirety on the new album.
Worshippers of the PRIEST literally squeezed into a venue packed to the rafters and it was nearly wall-to-wall people. At precisely 10:20 pm with metalheads fired up the intro tape of BLACK SABBATH’S “War Pigs” started and the all-ages audience began singing along to the tape with horns up. A red-draped curtain with the legendary cross suddenly dropped as JUDAS PRIEST hit the stage opening with their title track “Firepower”. Halford was cloaked in a gold fringed leather jacket that layered a long black shirt, gold pants, black boots with chains, wearing shades and his signature black gloves. The Metal God was shining bright!
They performed an arsenal of songs from an assorted collection of albums spanning the band’s career. Everything was represented, from Sad Wings Of Destiny and Stained Glass to Defenders of the Faith, Turbo, Painkiller and of course the new material. They continued with older hits “Running Wild”, “Grinder”, “Sinner”, “The Ripper”, and new track “Lightning Strike”. When they played “Bloodstone” from Screaming For Vengeance the fans were so into it singing the chorus with fists pummeling as they yelled and hollered while craving more.
Halford remains an operatic screaming demon with extraordinarily powerful pipes. He is to heavy metal what the late Freddie Mercury was to rock-n-roll…the consummate showman! He loves to interact and include the audience every step of the way and the response from the faithful fans was overwhelming. He can still blow away anybody within the genre today proving why he still holds the undisputed title of The Metal God. He had countless jacket changes throughout the night and they were all to die for!
Halford told the crowd “No one lives forever” as they burst into a rare live rendition of “Saints In Hell”. This has left jaws dropping on each and every stop of this tour. The backdrop was surreal as it rolled imagery falling into Hell. They continued blasting with classics like “Turbo Lover”, “Freewheel Burning”, new track “Evil Never Dies”, “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” and monster hit “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” which was received with a thunderous applause. I’ve never witnessed so many people singing along in unison as I did on this particular night. It was freaking fantastic!
JUDAS PRIEST were phenomenal and the sound quality was outstanding. There was never a dull moment in this fast-paced show. Honestly, these guys are metal royalty and a force to be reckoned with! Richie Faulkner is befitting to the pedigree. Playing his weapon of choice, his Flying V, he’s a natural, soaring through solos with blazing riffs while pointing his guitar towards the heavens above. The smoking hot axeman was on fire showcasing his captivating shred ability while simultaneously engaging with the fans and all eyes were upon him throughout the night!
Sneap is filling in nicely and it must be thrilling to be on that stage with such a legendary band! The combo of Hill and Travis were locking in the beat with heavy pounding as they performed with ease. Travis also used the coolest pair of drumsticks I’ve ever seen with the appearance of a twisted metal pipe. The backdrop changed in correlation to the songs showing burning fire, race cars, and pictures of various logos as the band evolved through the years and the colorful light show was as loud and amazing as the music.
The place went nuts to “The Hellion/Electric Eye”, then Halford entered the stage riding a Harley Davidson. This is always a ritual before they do “Hell Bent For Leather”, and no show would be complete without it. The band exited the stage and Travis shouted from the drum riser “Alright Dallas now that was the easy shit! Now I’ve got a question to ask you… What do you want to hear?” The fans hollered, “Painkiller!” and the band obliged. When the song ended the band departed once again, with the audience screaming for more!
For the encores all prayers were answered when Glenn Tipton did in fact join them onstage playing to “Metal Gods”…perfect timing! Metal maniacs went ballistic screaming so loud (which he rightfully deserved) I thought they were going to drown out his playing. He also performed on “Breaking The Law” and perennial show closer/show stopper “Living After Midnight.” I can guarantee you the next time JUDAS PRIEST comes back to town I’ll be there! They delivered one helluva show. All Hail the Gods of Metal!!
LIVE IMAGES: GUZPIX
LIVE WORDS: JANICE SPICER