Baptism by Firepower with Judas Priest
Photos by Renée Boucher Doiron
“Louder,” bellows somebody from the seats behind me. He was dressed in so much dark clothing he could pratically be a shadow. Well, this shadow came to rock and the volume needed to push 13 to satiate his appetite.
I wonder how Judas Priest could thunder strike TD Place any louder. Hell, the rumble that came forth could have titled a few pinball machines up Bank Street at House of Targ! 40 years down the rock and roll highway and the pedal is still firmly pressed to the metal for Rob Halford and his legions of heavy metal maniacs. Those thinking the aging rockers had run out of gas were better left stranded on the shoulder as the band blazed by them leaving flames, shrieks and solos in their wake.
This was the Firepower Tour and Judas Priest was packing the ammo needed for a crowd bedecked in enough leather and black denim to pack a couple Hells Angels garage sales.
“Priest! Priest! Priest!” the congregation shouted as the curtain came down to reveal the church of Judas.
Devil horned fingers and pumping fists promptly headed skyward with vertebrae dislodging head-banging beginning even before the band slapped you with the first licks and screams, shrieks that could only emanate from whatever demons possess Halford’s vocal chords. Of course, pushing out a recording of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” as an appetizer for an audience ready for a metal feeding frenzy was a well placed opening shot to the system before the band hit them with a triple dose of flames with new album Firepower’s title track, 1978’s “Running Wild” and 1980’s “Grinder”.
Halford, who’d shift from black to silver studded leather jackets complete with fringe, addressed his flock early on, thanking them for the many years of support. As leaders of the British new wave of metal (dating way back to 1969, if you can believe it), Judas Priest has seen some lineup shifts over the decades but it’s fair to say it’s the shaved head and wail of Halford that most associate with these Gods of Metal. This touring lineup brought guitarists Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap, drumme Scott Travis and bassist Ian Hill along for the ride.
“When you’ve been making metal as long as we have you get used to hitting milestones. Just recently we had the 30th Anniversary of Stained Glass,” Halford said of the band’s most popular album. Glancing down in front of the stage the leather-clad singer chuckled when seeing a younger fan, pointing out the album came out before they were even born. Though peppered with new followers, this audience was made up mainly of metalheads reliving their hair flailing glory days and good on ‘em. If you’re an old school Judas Priest fan and still have hair to flail at this point I say shake it like a Polaroid picture.
“Music lasts forever. Music doesn’t exist in time, it’s just there for us all to enjoy,” continued Halford before tearing into “Saints in Hell”. With cuts like that, Judas Priest dug deep into a killer back catalogue that includes 18 studio albums and 35 singles. Be it a hit like “Turbo Lover” or a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)”, the fans wanted more and the band delivered with a two hour blitzkrieg.
Halford, who mainly stalked about the stage like a caged ring master, paused only a few times to reflect on the band’s career. For the most part, this show didn’t let up saving some of the biggest strikes for last with “Breaking the Law” and “Electric Eye”. The roar of a motorcycle came from off stage and before you could wonder if it was all part of the soundtrack, Halford rode out to sing “Hell Bent for Leather” atop a glistening chrome stead.
How much more metal can you get?
Saints in Hell
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown) (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Evil Never Dies
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
Breaking the Law
Hell Bent for Leather
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Living After Midnight