Coming out with both barrels blazing in Biloxi to kick off another leg of their tour supporting Redeemer Of Souls, you wouldn’t think Judas Priest is now a band with seventeen albums in their arsenal. Their fiery guitar onslaught amidst Rob Halford’s eardrum singeing vocals is still the highlight of any show and they did not disappoint, despite such a short break to rejuvinate following shows in Europe.
With the curtain still down, Sabbath’s “War Pigs” blasted over the speakers, instigating a mass sing-a-long while the band took their places, hidden from the crowd. This unified singing would happen again further into the show during “Turbo Lover” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.”
But it was the guitars that had heads banging from the front row to the balcony. One man standing against the rail was banging so fast during a Faulkner solo, it looked as if his head would go flying off at any second. “It’s a joy to play those solos that came before and those parts that are part of my musical heritage,” explained Faulkner, the British guitarist who took over for KK Downing in 2011. “So you have to kind of pay respect to that and uphold that, and also doing your own thing. You just got to be respectful and do a duty to what went before.” His passion for the Priest of his youth was no more apparent than on “Victim Of Change,” taking the song to a soaring whammy bar explosion of notes and chords. “It was a big song for my predecessor, KK Downing,” Faulkner reiterated. “He was a big hero of mine and I am there upholding that responsibility;” as well as putting his own personality on it, which fans have accepted and look forward to.
Halford, prowling the stage methodically, interchanging his long coats as the songs’ vibes dictated, held the crowd in the palm of his hand, summoning a vocal exchange prior to the Screaming For Vengeance anthem, and bending down close to an eye-hurting bright white light to emphasize the power of the music. “The Priest is back!” Halford told his admirers before Faulkner and Glenn Tipton shot off a double guitar intro to “Devil’s Child,” preparing them for “some Judas Priest style heavy metal.”
Time can often soften a band’s touch but happily Priest has yet to succumb to any such nonsense. Halford, Tipton, Faulkner, bass player Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis remain scorchers of the earth. Forgoing the pyro yet keeping the lasers, it was up to the musicians to emphasize what heavy metal was and will always be: “Hell Bent For Leather,” with Halford cruising out on his trademark motorcycle, “Breaking The Law,” “Halls Of Valhalla” from the 2014 Redeemer Of Souls, Travis’ monstrous drums on “Painkiller” and the exceptional “Beyond The Realms,” which held in it’s fist the powerful vocals, guitars, drums and bass lines in one kick ass song.
Judas Priest slowing down? Not by a long shot.