The title of finest heavy metal band of all time doesn’t always mean the band’s music is current. Many acts that left their mark on music in the 70s, 80s, and 90s are no longer producing albums relevant to this generation, but that’s not the case when it comes to Judas Priest.
The new album “Redeemer of Souls”, released earlier this year, demonstrates Judas Priest’s return to their pure heart-pounding metal roots.
Embarking on a world tour in support of the new album and providing a career retrospective, Judas Priest finally made it back to Los Angeles when they took the stage at The Nokia Theater. It was here the heavy metal gods proved once again why they are, arguably, still the best at what they do.
Hoards of excited fans, in their signature studded-and-spiked leather clothing and Judas Priest shirts, could be seen gathering near the downtown venue hours before the doors opened. Many of them were wondering why Steel Panther of all bands would be opening for the gods of British heavy metal. Perhaps some fans aren’t aware that Judas Priest’s drummer Scott Travis and Steel Panther’s guitarist Russ Parrish (known as Satchel) played together in Fight! – a heavy metal band fronted by lead vocalist Rob Halford in the early 90s shortly after the release of Judas Preist “Painkiller.”
Over twenty years later, all three got to be a part of a terrific show at the Nokia Theater on Monday night.
Being one of the most successful current metal acts in the US, Steel Panther delivered a worthy opening for those who came to the Nokia ready to rock. They began their set with “Pussywhipped” from their new album “All You Can Eat”, followed by the almost-anthemic “Party Like Tomorrow Is the End of the World”, “Asian Hooker”, “Just Like Tiger Woods”, and the hilarious “Community Property.” Michael Starr took the time to chat with the audience between the songs, making a few R-rated jokes and introducing the rest of his bandmates to the crowd. Despite a comedic and, at times, profane performance, Steel Panther treated the audience to high quality guitar solos from lead guitarist Satchel before closing the set with the not so subliminal “Party All Day (Fuck All Night)” and “Death to All but Metal.” Steel Panther effectively warmed the crowd for the veterans of heavy metal.
About a half an hour later the lights went out, the curtain with the legendary Judas Priest insignia dropped, and the headliners emerged ripping through “Dragonaut”, the first track from their new album, followed by “Metal Gods” (British Steel 1980) and “Devil’s Child” (Screaming for Vengeance 1982).
“Dragonaut” was the first of many showcases for newest member Richie Faulkner, who replaced founding guitarist K. K. Downing in 2011. Famous for its twin lead guitars, Judas Priest couldn’t have done a better job in finding fresh talent who can still do justice to both the latest material as well as the classic tracks.
Faulkner and Glenn Tipton did an incredible job on the iconic songs “Victim of Changes” and “Love Bites”, and the new track “Halls of Valhalla” – another demonstration of Priest’s return to its roots. Priest didn’t dwell too long in any one era as they pounded out the newer track “March of the Damned” followed by the classic “Turbo Lover”, and then bounced back to the present with the title track “Redeemer of Souls.” The audience was completely blown away and almost as enthusiastic about the new material from the latest album as they were for the classics.
If anyone expected less than a full-on heavy metal show from Judas Priest or questioned Rob Halford’s vocals, their performance surely removed any lingering doubts.
But to say only this much about Halford’s singing is obviously not enough because there is a reason why he is called a ‘Metal God’. The wide vocal range he had a chance to demonstrate during the show is beyond compare. While many rock and heavy metal singers at this age are desperate to the point of undergoing vocal cord surgeries, Halford keeps on commanding the stage and screaming into the microphone at the top of his lungs, making the walls of the venue shake and the ears of the audience hurt oh so good.
If there was anyone sitting throughout the show, the classic “Breaking the Law” was the moment that made everyone in the audience rise as Halford let the fans sing the notorious chorus lines. While Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton ripped through guitar solos, Halford’s voice echoed throughout the auditorium, making the fans yell in admiration and awe.
When the time for the encore came, every single person inside Nokia was standing in anticipation of the famous motorcycle entrance. As Halford rode back onto the stage while singing the iconic “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, crowds of fans started singing along. Both Tipton and Faulkner showcased their amazing guitar skills, while Scott Travis on drums kept at it along with the monster bass delivered by Judas Priest veteran Ian Hill.
Judas Priest came back for a second encore to finish up the set with “Living After Midnight” and “Defenders of The Faith”, as Halford screamed into the crowd “Guess what? We’ll be back!”
Everything that took place Monday night at The Nokia Theater points to Judas Priest not stopping any time soon. As always, they are a must-see show for any true heavy metal fan.
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Buy “Redeemer of Souls” on iTunes or Amazon.