(Concert Review) JUDAS PRIEST - 50th Anniversary Tour (Chicago September 20, 2021)
Written by: Mark McQueen
Judas Priest are legends in the genre of heavy metal. For 50 years now they have rumbled around the world creating hit after hit and classic album after classic album. They have endured deaths and resignations, disease and estrangements, yet still they tour on making them one of metal's longest existing groups.
Last night they invaded Chicago and after half a century of doing it, were still able to bring down the house playing an amazing set drawing from 11 of their first 12 albums and not shying away from the hard-to-do material.
Rob Halford, now in his 70’s, may be sporting a Santa Clause style beard underneath his trademarked bald dome, but he still screeches high notes like few ever have. Can he hold them for 20-30 seconds without wavering? No, not anymore, but believe me when I say 75% of Halford is still better than 90% of all other Metal singers. That’s why if there is a Mt. Rushmore of metal vocalists, we can chisel out the Halford and Dio faces, and then argue about who else might deserve the last two spots.
New guitarists (if after this long you still want to call them new) Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap may not be Tipton/Downing but they certainly possess enough talent to hold the stage playing these hits. Ian Hill continues bass duties as stoically as always, Scott Travis does capable duties as about the 11th in the band's Spinal Tap-style revolving drummer line-up.
Lights and effects were the usual over-the-top show enhancements, but the real story was the frontman who certainly has enough hits to draw from that he didn’t need to tackle the ones most likely to expose any vocal deterioration, yet this list hit winners from every album in the first 20 years of the band's career and did not shy away from the tough ones including Painkiller, Victim of Changes, Desert Plains, Blood Red Skies, and The Sentinel ... all performed with Rob not holding back on the dog whistle high notes. This was no Aerosmith (Steve Tyler hits the note in Dream On and then follows it with a few low-key bluesy numbers), for proof just look at this set list:
1. One Shot at Glory (Painkiller)
2. Lightning Strikes (Firepower)
3. You got Another Thing Coming (Screaming for Vengeance)
4. Freewheel Burning (Defenders of the Faith)
5. Turbo Lover (Turbo)
6. Hell Patrol (Painkiller)
7. The Sentinel (Defenders of the Faith)
8. A Touch of Evil (Painkiller)
9. Rocka Rolla (Rocka Rolla)
10. Victim of Changes (Sad Wings of Destiny)
11. Desert Plains (Point of Entry)
12. Blood Red Skies (Ram it Down)
13. Invader (Stained Class)
14. Painkiller (Painkiller)
15. Hellion/Electric Eye (Screaming for Vengeance)
16. Hell Bent for Leather (Killing Machine)
17. Breaking the Law (British Steel)
18. Living After Midnight (British Steel)
Priest had one of the best sets I have witnessed in the five times I have seen them and even though, yes, I know Rob has previously screamed a bit higher, louder, and longer, and the guitar tandem of K.K Downing and Glen Tipton is what I identify true Priest music as, still, this was an impressive set given by a band that will NOT go gentle into that good night. Nor do they have to if they can still play like that.
Very possibly a set of the year candidate to consider for 2021 so far.