Four years after metal icons Judas Priest played what they claimed at the time would be their final show in the Saint Louis area they returned Tuesday with a new found enthusiasm and an energetic show.
Playing at the same venue they performed in 2011 during their Epitaph tour, Saint Charles’ Family Arena, Priest seemed more energetic, enthused and certainly not ready to hang the instruments up anytime soon. Lead singer Rob Halford sounded better than he has in a long time, showing off those incredible pipes that made him a legend in the 1970’s and 80’s.
One of the influential spark plugs has been the addition of guitarist Richie Faulkner to the fold after original guitarist K.K. Downing abruptly left the band in the middle of their 2011 “farewell” tour. Faulkner energy has evidently been infectious to the rest of the band and it showed in the set. He also played a 5 minute solo that proved the band made the right choice.
With performances that ranged from classic Priest staples like “You’ve Got Another thing Comin’,” “Living After Midnight” and “Electric Eye” the band spanned many years going back to 1980. They also played several songs off of their newest CD Redeemer of Souls, their first album of new music in six years. With it included the title track, “March of the Damned” and “Halls of Valhalla.”
They kicked off with the opening track from Redeemer of Souls in “Dragonaught.” Halford slowly made his way to the front of drummer Scott Travis’ drums and stayed there the whole song. That was the only time, though as the rest of the show he made his way to every corner of the stage, working the crowd like the veteran front man he is.
Guitarist Glenn Tipton paired with Faulkner in a dual axe attack on several occasions. Bassist Ian Hill didn’t move from his spot just next to Travis, and if he ever did I would be shocked, but that works well for him as he laid down the low end without a hitch.
Halford decked himself out in a different jacked every other song and brought in his motorcycle for “Hell Bent for Leather” amid a thick blanket of smoke. Speaking of smoke, they could have eased up a bit as there were times the smoke was so thick it was hard to even make out anyone on the stage, especially coming from stage right.
In all it was one of the only hiccups in an otherwise stellar show. Halford gave the audience at the end something they most certainly wanted to hear: a promise that the mighty Judas Priest will be back again. And that’s all anyone in the crowd wanted after a strong show like that.
Metal veterans Saxon opened the show with a strong 45 minute set. It was Saxon’s first show in the Gateway city in over 30 years since they played at the old Kiel Opera House with Motley Crue, a concert Saxon front man Biff Byford exclaimed was much too long.
Their set was strong with such power tracks as “Crusader,” “Heavy Metal Thunder” and “Denim and Leather.” One of the more interesting things to watch during their set is bassist Nibbs Carter, who was thrashing his head so fast that I wondered how it was staying on.
Judas Priest setlist:
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