Judas Priest has been “defending the faith” and flying the metal flag proudly throughout their 40-year career. The “metal gods” may not be supporting their latest release – Redeemer Of Souls – with the same elaborate stage show that they were known for years ago, but for the capacity crowd at Foxwoods Casino and Resort in CT, it didn’t matter. Led by ageless frontman extraordinaire, Rob Halford, the 16-song set was a journey back in time to the glory days of metal.
After a mixed reaction to Steel Panther’s unique brand of metal/humor, the crowd reached a fever pitch as the intro to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” blared from the stage leading into Priest’s first song of the night, “Dragonaut,” off of their latest album. From Halford’s first note, it was evident that age is just a number, as his powerful delivery with just “a touch of evil” filled the room.
Redeemer Of Souls sounds like a classic Priest album, so the new songs that the band played were well-received, but the true classics brought the electrified crowd to an entirely different level.
The intensity of “Metal Gods” was like a punch in the face, and “Devil’s Child” sounded as good in 2014 as it did on the tours of the 80s. As powerful as Halford sounded, you had to wonder if he would be able to handle the insane vocals of “Victim Of Changes.” It wasn’t long before jaws were dropping as Halford turned back the hands of time to 1976 with his performance of the defining track from the band’s Sad Wings Of Destiny album. That alone was worth the price of admission!
“Love Bites” and “Turbo Lover” were sandwiched in between three tracks from Redeemer Of Souls (including the title track). After showcasing the new material, Halford addressed the crowd and introduced the ultimate power ballad, “Beyond The Realms Of Death,” from 1978’s Stained Class.
For the most part, lighters were replaced by the glow of smartphones during “Beyond The Realms Of Death” (an unfortunate sign of the times), but the flicker of a few lighters nearby was a nostalgic reminder of days gone by. With a crowd that seemed to be mostly filled with people who grew up on Priest, I couldn’t help but think that this generation of metal fans was missing out on the opportunity to experience the masters at work. After all, without Priest, many of the bands that they listen to today wouldn’t even exist.
After “Jawbreaker” and “Breaking The Law,” the familiar roar of Halford’s Harley filled the room, and the band broke into a spirited version of “Hell Bent For Leather” before leaving the stage to chants of…“Priest!, Priest!, Priest!, Priest!”
The band returned to perform “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” and “Living After Midnight” before closing with the title track from “Defenders Of The Faith.”
With a career that spans 40 years, it is impossible for any diehard Priest fan to not be somewhat disappointed that they didn’t hear a particular song (or many for that matter). Realistically, the band could have played for another two hours and still left the crowd wanting more – the blessing and the curse of an expansive catalog.
Overall, Judas Priest “delivered the goods” as they always do. While lifelong Priest fans may have wished that K.K. Downing was still in the band, it’s impossible to think of a better replacement than Richie Faulkner (whose playing is reminiscent of Randy Rhoads). Because of the chemistry that exists between Faulker and Glenn Tipton, and Halford’s stellar vocals, Redeemer Of Souls will go down in metal history as another outstanding Judas Priest tour!