“Thursday night and the PRIEST is back!” is all I could tell myself all day at work. I hadn’t seen one of my favorite bands, JUDAS PRIEST in a few years and I was sorely overdue. So of course the work day went agonizingly slow. And what’s that? Two hours overtime? Sure!! Let’s do everything possible to delay my getting to the Allen Event Center for a night of glorious metal, why don’t we? And hats off to the staff there for being so accommodating, and what a gorgeous arena. I would rock out there again in a heartbeat. STEEL PANTHER was the special guest and if you still haven’t checked them out yet, do so because they’re lots of fun. They played about ten songs, similar to last time, but there was one missing. Could tonight be the night they’d do it? We’d soon find out. Armed with my trusty gunslinger Ryan from Ardent Owl Media I found my seat just as the band was getting down to business.
After the one-two of “Pussywhipped” and “Party Like Tomorrow Is the End of the World” from new album All You Can Eat came my only complaint of their set. Just like last time the band decided to do a ten minute band intro/stand-up comedy routine, and while it’s funny, sure, it went on for way too long. They could have played two more songs in that time, like “Gangbang at the Old Folks Home” which was unfairly omitted this time around. They wrapped it up and dove headfirst into “Asian Hooker” before it finally happened. The Gods answered my prayers and “Just Like Tiger Woods” filled the arena which had me bouncing in my seat as Ryan laughed partly at the song, but mostly at me. More of the hits followed, like “Community Property”, “17 Girls in a Row” and of course, mine and Hannah’s favorite “Gloryhole” (right, Hannah?) before their signature closer “Death to All But Metal”. They were fun as always, and the perfect way to start my evening.
As the familiar sound of “War Pigs” blared over the P.A. we all knew what was about to happen. The Mighty JUDAS PRIEST was about to kick the living shit out of Texas to the tune of 16 songs. Wasting no time, the band launched into “Dragonaut”, one of four from new album Redeemer of Souls they would play on this night. “Metal Gods” quickly followed, everyone looking and sounding fantastic. The Metal God Rob Halford’s voice was in tip-top shape and guitarists Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner brought with them an arsenal of riffs while bassist Ian Hill and mega-drummer Scott Travis held this mammoth castle of metal together. The bass was exceptionally noticeable and much higher up in the mix like on the album, which I loved. And by the way, Richie is PERFECT in this band. His playing is terrific, but also his energy and enthusiasm were absolutely infectious. We were on his side of the stage and he was having fun with us all night long. I’m pretty sure he even smiled and pointed at me one time because let’s face it, I was the biggest nutcase in Section 105!!
Continuing the outstanding song selection “Devil’s Child” and the epic “Victim of Changes” kept the faithful on their feet and screaming. “Halls of Valhalla” definitely had a positive reaction as well. Obviously most of the people here had the new record. How could they not? It’s PRIEST! But then…ohhhhhh, man…then came a moment that I will cherish as a Top Concert Moment till the day I die: “Love Bites”, a song that has long been my favorite from Defenders of the Faith and never been played live in my presence happened. I don’t know where The Maestro went during those five minutes because he was clearly not on this planet. Even the usher in our area leaned over and joked, “You’re havin’ too much fun, man!” I screamed my lungs out and was surprised I still had voice left in me. From the this-song-sticks-in-your-head files came new tune “March of the Damned” followed by ANOTHER of my favorites since ’86, “Turbo Lover”, more going nuts, and then the title track off the new record, which is yet another ripper.
I was finally able to catch my breath during “Beyond the Realms of Death” which sounded just as excellent as it did the first time I saw the band in ’88 at Nassau Coliseum with my buddies Joe and Frankie. But that didn’t last as more Defenders action was in store with “Jawbreaker”. 30 years later and the songs on this album still hold up against a ton of crap from today. Don’t believe me? Go get it and tell me I’m wrong. Next up was a song containing the word “law”. You know what it’s called. Breaking the what? Breaking the WHAT?? Oh come on, you knew that was coming.
“Breaking the Law” was, as usual, one of the biggest hits of the night and I sang my ass off so loud the two dudes in front of me made the bowing-down hail motion followed by high-fives all around. Gotta love the PRIEST family, man.
The revving of a motorcycle could only mean one thing…it was time to get “Hell Bent for Leather”. All these years and I still get so fucking excited every time they do it! As the song ripped through the arena I couldn’t stop smiling through all the headbanging and air-jamming. “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” and “Living After Midnight” two all-time Heavy Metal Classics brought the evening to what we thought was a close, but the guys decided to segue way into “Defenders of the Faith” to get us singing one last time and we happily obliged.
Sincere thank-you’s were felt from The Metal God, Ian, Richie, Glenn, and Scott, with Ian and Richie handing out picks by the boatload before they all locked hands and bowed in unison.
I have seen JUDAS PRIEST many times since 1988 and I will say right now, with no equivocation that this is the best I have EVER seen them and heard them. The band has a renewed energy, the songs are fresher than ever, and I only hope they have it in them to go another 40 years. Because quite frankly, a world without JUDAS PRIEST is a world I don’t wish to live in.
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: ARDENT OWL MEDIA