Artist: Judas Priest
Venue: Prudential Center (Newark, NJ)
Opener: Saxon and Black Star Riders
Label: Epic Records
As a card-carrying Heavy Metal fan for pretty much four decades now, I was super excited that 2018 would not only find us receiving a brand-new Judas Priest album, but also a healthy tour that would visit a lot of states on our side of the pond. The tour was sure to be an exciting one since The Priest had lined out that both Black Star Riders and the legendary Saxon would be joining them as they celebrated “Firepower”. Sadly, the band wouldn’t be hitting any of the Big Apple arenas outside of Long Islands Nassau Coliseum but that was fine since the nearby Prudential Center in Newark, NJ would be on the docket. Here’s my summary of the rock-solid event.
Black Star Riders: The BSR were up first and if you don’t know too much about the band, you should know that this began as an offshoot to a rebuilt Thin Lizzy. After a brief reunion tour by that famous moniker, the new material was released under a new branding out of respect of their storied past and would find Damon Johnson, Robbie Crane and Chad Szeliga joining up with Scott Gorham and Ricky Warwick. The band is a solid one and has been signed to Nuclear Blast Records for a few years now. Their set is a blending of new sure to be classics along with numbers that are long in our musical hearts from the Thin Lizzy catalog. Tonight, they would not deliver too many of the legendary bands numbers outside of “Jailbreak” and instead would focus on their new albums material. Speaking frankly, I would have preferred that they mixed it up a little better since there was a lot of people coming in tonight that would be getting into place by the time Saxon would hit and I think more would have tried to be earlier if they knew more of the songs. That being said, the early and short set that they delivered was a solid one. I still need to get the new album myself and once I do you can count on a comprehensive overview here on the website. Now it was time for Saxon so all the excite right? You betcha.
BSR Set: All Hell Breaks Loose, Jailbreak, Heavy Fire, Soldiertown, The Killer Instinct, When The Night Comes In, Kingdom Of The Lost, Bound For Glory.
Saxon: Over the years since first starting this website, I’ve always tried to be on point to cover a Saxon appearance because the guys are so good at what they do and have been at the craft of delivering some molten Heavy Metal for quite a few years. Admittedly, I was a latecomer to the band back in the earliest heyday and think that I picked up on them when they released “Denim and Leather” based on the insistence of some of my friends. Kudos to you folks that were paying attention earlier than that but sometimes you miss stuff no matter how open you are to giving bands a try. I wouldn’t manage to catch them live in concert until some ten years or so ago with one of their shows at the venerated B.B. King Blues Club in NYC. They hit that venue a few times and each and every show was packed to the front doors and hotter than hell. It was a great time but was also a tad bit weird to see Saxon in a club like that since all the videos I’d ever seen over the years found them on giant stages in front of massive crowds. Tonight, would be the first time that our neck of the woods would be putting Saxon on a stage like this. To say that the band hit the stage like a thunderbolt is almost corny since that is the first song of their set and the title of their brand-new album on Silver Lining Music. The label is a new one to me, but I will be investigating them going forward and another interesting fact about the new works is that it was produced by Andy Sneap who would be playing guitar on this tour with Judas Priest based on Glen Tipton’s Parkinson’s diagnosis.
As I’ve mentioned, Saxon are seasoned pros at this and Biff stood tall like a returning King. He is used to the larger stages in Europe and handled the one at the Prudential with ease. They would touch upon the past with “Power and the Glory” and that had a lot of people singing along. A quick observe of the seating and I took notice that almost all the sections that were sold tonight were filling up. Clearly the fans were here to help rally this Metal charge and I liked that. The Saxon lineup tonight would be the one that I’ve seen over the last few years with Paul Quinn, Doug Scarratt, Nibbs Carter and Nigel Glockner all still in place. They play like a well-oiled machine and while I was trying to be on point snapping pictures, I had to occasionally pause and throw up a fist in support. I’m still waiting for a chance to get a copy of “Thunderbolt” so I don’t know all the songs off the top of my head. With that being the case I was counting on the older numbers and when they played those I was that much prouder to be a Heavy Metal fan. For me, songs like “Denim and Leather” and “Princess Of The Night” are timeless and I was happy to have seen them delivered on such a stage. Sadly, the Saxon set would also be a brief one, but it made a statement. I hope they come back soon and perhaps deliver another molten set at B.B. King Blues Club or maybe even the Gramercy Theatre since it’s stage offers more runaround room. Now it was time for the moment that we were ALL waiting for – the return of the mighty Judas Priest.
Judas Priest:The night before this show, Judas Priest did a fan meet and greet in support of the new album at the Sony Square NYC Space and we were in attendance (that event was discussed HERE). The band arrived in an NYFD truck and all the members were present including the great Glen Tipton. For those fans in attendance the speculation was high about Glen performing with the band this evening but only time would tell about that for when the curtain went down to reveal the Metal legends, it was Andy Sneap on the second guitar and not Glen. Let’s see what happens as the set goes forward was my thinking. Priest started off like a shot out of a cannon and to be quite honest I had not heard Halford sounding this good in the live sense for a couple of tours. I don’t mean this as a negative because his register is something so hard to maintain but IMHO he sounded even better than I remembered him sounding the last time around.
With the shows only having recently begun, many fans were hitting Setlist.fm to get an idea of what to expect and this early there aren’t usually many changes. Priest was only going to do three numbers from the new album and instead celebrate their catalog by touching upon numerous eras from their history. I can safely say that I loved the entire set but finding “Green Manalishi” added back into the set in place of “Angel” for me was a godsend. Sure I like the other song but “Manalishi” is a part of my Heavy Metal upbringing. Hearing “Saints In Hell” from “Stained Class” was absolutely jarring to me as this song was never included in the live set until now. I think everyone went home happy because of that one and now some thirty years after its debut, to find “Turbo Lover” being embraced so warmly and sung along too at these modern days shows just makes me smile a little bit considering what so many of us thought of this one way back when. My other highlights from the middle of the show would have to be “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” and of course “Hell Bent For Leather”. As I watched the show from my seat it was safe to say that Mr. Faulkner had helped to keep a flame burning at its most intense based on his skills and showmanship and that Scott Travis is one of the most solid Metal drummers in play right now. Sneap was to be commended for sure but he has said during interviews that he is just filling in the role for the time being. I honestly didn’t mind his presence at all and thought he kept the night moving right along without incident.
What can one say about the legendary Metal God that hasn’t already been said. The man is an icon and he still delivers the goods night after night. His register was searing the speakers tonight and the crowd sure approved. During “Painkiller”, it was interesting to find the team of Faulkner and Sneap doing the leads on stage while they showed both Tipton and K.K. above on the screens in perfect sync. I love how this song sounds like and this would be the end of the proper set before the encores. Suddenly the lights went dark for a brief moment and out walked Glen Tipton to thunderous roars and applause. I must admit that I felt a lump in my throat at the reception and one could only imagine how Glen felt about this from his vantage point. He thanked everyone and got right to business beginning “Metal Gods” from the “British Steel” album and it was amazing to watch all the fans around me slinging on their own air guitars to play along with this one. Glen would remain onstage as the classic “Breaking The Law” was delivered and followed by the closing number of “Living After Midnight” which Rob made sure to have the audience sing along to one last time for the night. I swear that the people in the street could have heard us. This was indeed a good one.
Following the show, Judas Priest was scheduled to do a town hall interview appearance at SiriusXM satellite radio and then another for the Build Series. As I’m posting the show article some days after the event I am happy to add that I attended both of these appearances and can safely say that Priest seems fired up to keep on bringing the Metal to the masses. It’s my hope that they circle back for another round of dates that include Brooklyn and dare I even hope about it, Madison Square Garden. Only time will tell right.
Saxon Set List:
2. Power and the Glory
3. Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)
4. Motorcycle Man
5. The Secret Of Flight
6. Dallas 1 PM
7. They Played Rock and Roll
9. Princess Of The Night
10. Denim and Leather
11. Heavy Metal Thunder
Judas Priest Set List:
2. Running Wild
5. The Ripper
6. Lightning Strike
8. Saints in Hell
9. Turbo Lover
10. The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)
11. Evil Never Dies
12. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
13. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
14. Hell Bent for Leather
15. The Hellion @Tape
16. Electric Eye
18. Metal Gods
19. Breaking the Law
20. Living After Midnight