Concert Review – Judas Priest (Tribute Communities Centre, Oshawa, ON, 03/28/2018)

A night of celebration of the purest form of British Heavy Metal in the Ontarian city of Oshawa, spearheaded by the unparalleled Judas Priest.

OPENING ACTS: Black Star Riders and Saxon

Getting from Oakville to Oshawa for a concert is always a nightmare due to the humongous distance (almost 100km) and the fact I have to drive there exactly during the peak of rush hour. However, for my total delight, it was fairly quick to get to the Tribute Communities Centre in Oshawa yesterday where the mighty Judas Priest was going to play their unparalleled classics, supported by the ass-kicking Black Star Riders and Saxon as the opening acts. After a Tuesday of rain and fog, the day yesterday was beyond perfect, being totally clean and dry, and with the temperatures reaching almost the positive double digit mark. I guess the weather knew it shouldn’t mess with the Metal Gods, right?

One thing I highly recommend if you ever attend a concert or a sports event at the Tribute Communities Centre is to grab a bite before (or maybe even during) the event at the Prospects Bar & Grill, the pub that’s right inside the venue. Good food, cold and crisp beer, and all for a very decent price, helping you to properly get ready for the event. Actually, because I arrived there right when BLACK STAR RIDERS, a band formed by members and ex-members of renowned acts like Thin Lizzy and Alice Cooper, started their concert, I couldn’t really watch them perform, but I was listening to their music from the pub with attention and they sounded solid and entertaining with their old school Rock N’ Roll, with their cover song for Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak and their own song Bound for Glory being the highlights of their performance.

Setlist
All Hell Breaks Loose
Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy cover)
Before the War
Heavy Fire
Who Rides the Tiger
Kingdom of the Lost
When the Night Comes In
Bound for Glory

Band members
Ricky Warwick – vocals, guitar
Scott Gorham – guitars
Damon Johnson – guitars
Robert Crane – bass
Chad Szeliga – drums

After a short break (and now already sitting in my proper place in the floor section), it was time for Biff Byford and his Heavy Metal institution SAXON to begin their sonic attack on stage, delivering pure metal from the NWOBHM, with songs like Power and the Glory, Motorcycle Man, Denim and Leather and Heavy Metal Thunder inciting all fans at the venue to start banging their heads nonstop to their classic Heavy Metal. The band was on fire from start to finish promoting their brand new album Thunderbolt, not giving any time for the crowd to breathe or take a bathroom break, with Mr. Byford being a true beast on vocals. My favorite tune played from their new album was by far They Played Rock and Roll, introduced by the band as their personal and honest tribute to the greatest Rock N’ Roll band of all time, the glorious Motörhead. And let’s face it, any tribute to the one and only Lemmy Kilmister is never enough, right? He always deserves more and more, and when that comes from such an amazing band like Saxon, the homage paid is even more powerful.

Setlist
Olympus Rising
Thunderbolt
Power and the Glory
The Secret of Flight
Motorcycle Man
Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)
Dallas 1 PM
They Played Rock and Roll
Denim and Leather
Princess of the Night
Wheels of Steel
Never Surrender
Heavy Metal Thunder

Band members
Biff Byford – vocals
Paul Quinn – guitars
Doug Scarratt – guitars
Nibbs Carter – bass
Nigel Glockler – drums

JUDAS PRIEST

The intensity of the metal played by Saxon was exactly what everyone needed to get really warmed up for the main attraction of the night, the iconic metal behemoths JUDAS PRIEST. It was already past 9pm when Black Sabbath’s War Pigs started playing on the speakers, followed by the intro Guardians, before the band spearheaded by the Metal God Rob Halford hit the stage to the sound of their newborn classic Firepower, the opening track of their majestic new opus Firepower, putting a smile on everyone’s faces and showing everyone at the venue that the Metal Gods still got it no matter what happens to them. Of course I missed seeing the guitar hero Glenn Tipton (who’s not touring with the band due to the complications of his recently diagnosed case of Parkinson’s disease) slashing our senses with his riffs and solos on stage, but Andy Sneap did a pretty good job replacing him. And what to say about Richie Faulkner? The guy is undoubtedly a core piece of Judas Priest now, showcasing all his skills as a great guitarist that he is and also having an excellent performance on stage.

Nothing I can say about the setlist will represent its true beauty, as the Priest played a mix of some of the best songs of the new album, such as Lightning Strike and Evil Never Dies, with amazing classics from almost all of their albums, including really old school material such as Running Wild, The Ripper, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll and especially Saints in Hell, from Stained Class, and album that turned 40 years old this past February 10. After watching them playing that stunning song live, I once again must say their music is definitely like wine, getting better and better as time goes by. Furthermore, the video they played on their background screen during Saints in Hell was superb, with all the dark and red imagery of Christ, demons and wild beats being mesmerizing, and I wonder if one day they’ll upload it somewhere like YouTube as an alternative video for this beyond classic metal hymn.

My only complaint about their setlist was replacing one of the most touching metal ballads of all time, the absolutely beautiful Angel (which they were playing until their concert at The Anthem in Washington, D.C. on March 18), with the good-but-not-fantastic The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown). This song feels like when Iron Maiden play “Wrathchild” on their live concerts, as we all certainly enjoy it but we also know deep down inside there are far better options to be part of their setlist. Anyway, the last part of their setlist, including the encore, was a true feast of pure Heavy Metal, working like a tribute to the Rock N’ Roll lifestyle, with metallic hymns like Breaking the Law, Hell Bent for Leather and Living After Midnight being some sort of “motto” or “guide” to anyone who lives and breathes rock music 24/7. I was honestly hoping that Glenn would hit the stage out of nowhere to play the last batch of songs with the band last night, just like what he did at The Prudential in Newark, New Jersey on March 20, but unfortunately that did not happen in Oshawa. Well, I can’t complain at all, as seeing Judas Priest live once again was truly amazing and memorable, making even my 90km drive back a lot easier and smoother than I thought, and I can’t wait to see them again in a not-so-distant future, hopefully with Glenn back in action.

Setlist
War Pigs (Black Sabbath song)
Guardians
Firepower
Running Wild
Grinder
Sinner
The Ripper
Lightning Strike
Bloodstone
Saints in Hell
Turbo Lover
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
Painkiller

Encore:
The Hellion
Electric Eye
Metal Gods
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Living After Midnight
We Are the Champions (Queen song)

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Andy Sneap – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums

Concert Review – Judas Priest (Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, 11/12/2015)

Thousands of Heavy Metal maniacs screamed for vengeance together with the Metal Gods on a memorable night in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Mastodon

Judas-Priest-Redeemer-of-Souls-Tour-2015Fortunately, after the excruciating hassle of having to drive for hours to get to Casino Rama to see Judas Priest last year, an enlightened soul realized there was an urge emanating from all metalheads in Toronto to have the Metal Gods in town for a proper concert, and therefore we were all granted with a memorable Heavy Metal celebration at the Air Canada Centre last night. I know some people loved the fact they could stay in Orillia for some gambling and beer, taking a day or two off for that, but they must understand this is all about praising the almighty Judas Priest, not about wasting your money in tedious slot machines. I just wish the floor section didn’t have those stupid seats. Why not just having a floor section, period?

IMG_0770The opening band this time were American metallers MASTODON, with all their craziness, psychedelia, heaviness and unquestionable talent. However, the biggest problem for me (and I’m sure it was the same with lots of other Priest fans at the concert) was their lack of charisma. I mean, they have all the ingredients to be one of the best metal acts in activity, but unless you’re high on something it’s pretty hard to enjoy their full setlist. Songs like High Road and Megalodon stand out among the others, but the overall result is not as exciting as watching a less skilled band on stage playing simpler but a lot catchier songs. All band members masterfully handle their instruments, and if you’re a guitar player you probably go insane with their intricate riffs and compositions, but I think it’s a lot better to listen to their music at home or in your car than at a venue like the Air Canada Centre. I’m not saying it was a bad concert, quite the contrary, Mastodon were pretty good. It just wasn’t what I had in mind as the perfect warm-up for the Metal Gods.

Setlist
Tread Lightly
Blasteroid
The Motherload
Chimes at Midnight
High Road
Aqua Dementia
Mother Puncher
Halloween
Bladecatcher
Black Tongue
Ember City
Megalodon
Blood and Thunder

Band members
Brent Hinds – guitar, vocals
Bill Kelliher – guitar
Troy Sanders – bass, vocals
Brann Dailor – drums, vocals

JUDAS PRIEST

IMG_0773Finally back to the CITY of Toronto after four long years, Heavy Metal titans JUDAS PRIEST seem to be getting better and better as years go by. Perhaps it’s the fresh energy brought to the band by the awesome guitarist Richie Faulkner, or the fact that Redeemer Of Souls put the band back on track in their career, but the truth is that they’ve been delivering flawless concerts for years in a row now, putting smiles on everyone’s faces and reminding us all why they’re called “Metal Gods”.

When the backdrop curtain carrying the Priest classic logo dropped, right after the venue sound system played an excerpt of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath and the intro to one of their own new songs, the excellent “Battle Cry”, an avalanche of Heavy Metal classic mixed with some of their new tunes began, driving all diehard fans crazy with their intensity and passion in this successful Redeemer of Souls Tour 2015. And from the very beginning we could see how impressive the performance by the one and only Rob Halford is nowadays. The Metal God is already 64 years old, but he can still deliver it like if he was just 20 something. It’s sometimes unbelievable how powerful his voice still is at this stage of his career, don’t you agree?

IMG_0780I personally found part of the fans at the venue a little too slow for the electricity imposed by the band, but anyway most Heavy Metal maniacs had an unforgettable time singing and screaming together with Halford & Co. during the entire setlist. From the first part of the concert, I must say it was beautiful witnessing Halford singing the classic Desert Plains while Richie and the iconic Glenn Tipton were ripping our hearts off with their razing riffs, as simple and effective as that. And what to say about Halford’s monumental performances in the unparalleled Victim of Changes and the newer Halls of Valhalla, already a classic song for many? Holy shit, that gave me metallic goosebumps so awesome it was.

Then after playing a few more incredible tunes, such as The Rage and Turbo Lover, it looked like the Metal Gods wanted to mark our hearts, bodies and souls with their burning metal as the sequence of Heavy Metal anthems was beyond superb. They didn’t just play my favorite Priest song of all time, the fiery Screaming for Vengeance, they executed it to perfection. Add to that the back video where you could follow its lyrics (and see a meme of Halford SCREEEEAAAAAAMING! on the video by the end of the song), and you have the most astonishing moment of the night. Not only that, as soon as this masterpiece was over, Halford intoned his famous “Woo-woo-woo-yeah!” before the whole band kicked some serious ass with Breaking the Law and Hell Bent for Leather, the latter featuring Halford’s shining Harley-Davidson for the delight of everyone at the venue.

IMG_0793But before Judas Preist let Toronto be that quiet and cozy city again, they fired two final rounds of all-time classics, including Electric Eye, Painkiller and Living After Midnight. Let me tell you something about Painkiller, as it was a really bold move by the band to put it at the end of the setlist knowing how demanding it is, especially for Halford. When the unstoppable drummer Scott Travis provoked Toronto to go wild with his unique drumming intro, I wasn’t sure if Halford would be capable of delivering his high-pitched screams during the whole song. Well, guess what? That was by far the best performance by the Metal God singing Painkiller I’ve ever seen in my life, a billion times better than their 2005 DVD Rising in the East, and that was over 10 years ago.

At around 11pm the concert was over, people started heading back to their homes by car, subway or, like I did, by Go Train. Everyone was displaying a mix of happiness and complete exhaustion on the way back, but one thing is beyond certain after you witness such a beautiful ode to Heavy Metal. It doesn’t matter how long it takes for Judas Priest to return to Toronto again, we’ll all be there one more time to enjoy our metallic deities celebrating heavy music and, of course, SCREEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAMING FOR VENGEANCE!

Setlist
War Pigs (Black Sabbath song)
Battle Cry
Dragonaut
Metal Gods
Desert Plains
Victim of Changes
Halls of Valhalla
The Rage
Turbo Lover
Redeemer of Souls
Beyond the Realms of Death
Screaming for Vengeance
Breaking the Law
Hell Bent for Leather

Encore:
The Hellion/Electric Eye
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

Encore 2:
Painkiller
Living After Midnight
Beginning of the End

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums