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Judas Priest/ Saxon/ Black Star Riders

Date: 3/20/18
Venue: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Report By: Rich Catino


Openers for the first leg of the Judas Priest “Firepower” tour were Black Star Riders, a hard rock band formed in 2012. Initially in 2010 they started out as a version of Thin Lizzy ( Phil Lynott passed away in the mid 80s), being is guitarist Scott Gorham was a member from 1974 on. The Riders, fronted by Ricky Warwick (rhythm guitar, vocals, The Almighty), also includes Damon Johnson (Brother Cane) on second guitar, Robbie Crane on bass, and recent addition Chad Szeliga on drums. Playing a few from each of their four albums, ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’, ‘Bound for Glory’, ‘Kingdom of the Lost’ from their debut, title track to ‘The Killer Instinct’ and ‘Soldierstown’, and “Heavy Fire” title track with ‘When the Night Comes In’ gave everyone I good smathering of their music. And if you’re a fan of Thin Lizzy, well this is right in the family. Plus, they do a Lizzy cover from time to time, tonight was the hit ‘Jailbreak’.

Saxon have a new album out, “Thunderbolt”, their 22nd, believe that! Been many, many years, if ever, since the early 80s maybe, Saxon played arenas in America? Frontman Biff Byford (1977–) and guitarist Paul Quinn (1977–) the lone original members, Nigel Glockler – drums on and off since 1981, Nibbs Carter (bass, 1988 -), with second guitarist Doug Scarratt (1996–). So Saxon has had a consistent lineup from 1996 forward for ten albums, and four - “Unleash the Beast”, “Metalhead”, “Killing Ground”, “Lionheart”, I highly recommend that they never play songs from in the US. Of the eleven songs tonight we got four new ones alongside the crowd favorites, classics. ‘Crusader’, ‘Power and the Glory, ‘Dallas 1 p.m.’, ‘Princess of the Night’, ‘Denim and Leather’, ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’ are rarely never in an American set. Biff still moves about the stage occasionally headbanging with Nigel delivering most of the energy. Like many of their peers in their late 60s pushing 70, Saxon still bring it live, and even albums from the last decade aren’t too bad either. But, as many of these heavy metal legends begin to retire at this stage go see Saxon, Priest, Scorpions, Ozzy, Kiss, AC/DC, etc, while you still can.

Judas Priest just released a new album, “Firepower”, in March 2018, which debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. And while a time for celebration, such it is with life, at times there comes some sadness. Following the album’s release news was made public that founding member/guitarist Glenn Tipton had Parkinson’s disease, and has for several years. He apparently played on the album, but would not be performing live, aside from the occasional night for a few songs depending how he felt. Andy Sneap, “Firepower” producer/engineer/ a guitarist as well, stepped in. So, the current lineup of Priest only has two original members; singer Rob Halford and bassist Ian Hill. KK Downing retired in 2011, replaced by Richie Faulkner, while Scott Travis has been in the band since the album “Painkiller” 1990. Yes, I know, lots of history, and the question arises…is this really still Judas Priest without the trademark twin guitar tandem of Downing/Tipton? Well, if the music on “Firepower” is any indication, and the well-attended arena in NJ, I don’t think the fans really care. They just want to hear the music.

As performers, Halford still has the voice and range, belts out the screams (see deep gem ‘Saints In Hell’) when he needs to, moves about the stage more than ever. Sneap learned Tipton’s parts well to compliment Richie who has really taken the helm of the band as a rock star and player. I mean, you have to hear him play both Glen and KK’s solos on ‘Painkiller’, the leads to ‘Sinner’, it was spot on and a utter metal meltdown. ‘Bloodstone’, ‘Grinder’, ‘Some Heads Are Gonna Roll’, and ‘Running Wild’ were excellent additions to the setlist, and the icing on the cake tonight was the first time Glenn came out for three songs in the encore; ‘Metal Gods’, ‘Breaking the Law’, ‘Living After Midnight’.

The Priest aren’t done yet, close though. With Tipton age 70 and pretty much done performing live, Halford 66, and Hill at 67, (Travis 56, Richie the young buck at 38) probably get another 5 years most before they retire. And its well-deserved, they should call it a day and enjoy their successes and money. So go see the Priest while they are still killing it.

Judas Priest setlist:

Running Wild
The Ripper
Lightning Strike
Saints in Hell
Turbo Lover
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)
Evil Never Dies
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Hell Bent for Leather
The Hellion
Electric Eye
Encores: (with Glenn Tipton)
Metal Gods
Breaking the Law
Living After Midnight


Power and the Glory
Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)
Motorcycle Man
The Secret of Flight
Dallas 1 PM
They Played Rock and Roll
Princess of the Night
Denim and Leather
Heavy Metal Thunder

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