Judas Priest @Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US)

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JUDAS PRIEST / SAXON / BLACK STAR RIDERS

Date: 08th April, 2018
Venue: Grossinger Motors Arena
Ticket Price: $39 - $59 (€32 - €48)
Promoter: n/a


It is a fact; JUDAS PRIEST have entered the charts with the brand new “Firepower” album, despite the fact that the lineup has suffered two most significant punches, with the last one being the hardest of them as Glenn Tipton is facing some serious health issues and obviously touring is the last of his (and ours) concern. From the PRIEST fan’s point of view, seeing the band without one of the most iconic guitar duos in the Metal scene could be a deal breaker, if “Firepower” had not turned to be that good and if - God forbid - Halford was not singing like the way he does at the age of 66. So, getting to see PRIEST one more time on stage became a no brainer, no matter if there was a 4-hr in total drive involved, but hell, it was a Sunday. And to make the deal super sweet, SAXON and BLACK STAR RIDERS were also on the billing, so there were no real excuses. A fun fact related to SAXON is that we had already seen them on the Catholics Easter day and we were about to get another taste of their Metal, this time served on the Orthodox Easter day… And that’s a bizarre coincidence, don’t you agree?

There was a strange setup with the photographers as they had to be escorted to the photo-pit a few minutes before the show and then back to a room to secure the cameras, so it was a bit tough getting to watch the entire BLACK STAR RIDERS set. And that was a shame because the band was pumped up and willing without having to work hard to earn the ‘all-ages’ audience. You see, BLACK STAR RIDERS is not exactly Metal - at least on the vein of the two British bands on the bill – so, it was expected to have lots of fans inside the stadium. Of course, the older metalheads were aware of the THIN LIZZY connection, so it was not a cold arena the band faced as it kicked off the set with “All Hell Breaks Loose”. Ricky Warwick is a great performer and looked in the right mood to work the audience at the best way possible given the short time BLACK STAR RIDERS had in their position. “Jailbreak” sounded great and I think got more people involved, although from the older age spectrum. I didn’t really expect from the 20 year old metalheads to have grown listening to THIN LIZZY (although it should have been part of their music education). Watching the two guitarists exchanging riffs and leads was a great experience on its own as both Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson possess all the virtues of a complete musician; from the onstage confidence and moves, to the smooth Hard Rock playing which is so missing nowadays.

“Come on, stand up and join us for the next four and a half minutes”, asked Ricky and I think he saw a good response for the Irish-sounding “Kingdom Of The Lost” with the super-sweet THIN LIZZY-flavored riffs. “Thank you for having us, it was a privilege and an honor to play for you tonight”, said Ricky before introducing the band and before the setlist-closer “Bound For Glory”. That was a great way to start the evening, although I am sure if the audience was more into BLACK STAR RIDERS, the show would have been awesome-r as this is a band that feeds from the energy of the people watching, so I’ll keep checking for another chance to catch them live.

BLACK STAR RIDERS setlist:

01. “All Hell Breaks Loose”
02. “Jailbreak”
03. “Heavy Fire”
04. “Soldierstown”
05. “The Killer Instinct”
06. “When The Night Comes In”
07. “Kingdom Of The Lost”
08. “Bound For Glory”

BLACK STAR RIDERS

Black Star Riders @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Star Riders @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Star Riders @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Star Riders @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Star Riders @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Black Star Riders @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Star Riders @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Star Riders @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Star Riders @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Star Riders @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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As said, it was seven days ago when we saw SAXON onstage with a 2-hr setlist, so I knew from the get-go that this set would feel like a heavily censored movie. To my delight, the audience had become louder as compared to BLACK STAR RIDERS, so at least the energy levels would have been closer to the SAXON standards. Yeah, the “Olympus Rising” taped intro saw the Brits entering quickly onstage in an attempt to make the most of the time given. “Thunderbolt” was the obvious setlist opener and right there SAXON went into all hands-on-deck mode. Yeah, there was no time to warm up and find your bearing as I am sure SAXON are not die-hard fans of supporting-slots. However, getting in touch with a bigger (and younger) audience can only happen in such billing in an ‘all-ages’ show, especially in the US. “Power And The Glory” came next without pausing, underlining once more how well the new songs work with the oldies. “Are you feeling good tonight?” asked Biff before introducing “The Secret Of Flight” which sounds like a must-have on setlists, being epic with a dramatic tone. “We are going back to the 1980” Biff started saying and then got distracted by a really young fan in the front row... “How old are you? You were not even born when we released this one” he added before “Motorcycle Man”. SAXON is a young veteran band and this is an intended oxymoron; I mean, watching this band live makes it hard to believe that it has been formed back in the late ‘70s. Ok, Biff’s white hair is a strong hint, but the way he sings, headbangs and, occasionally, jumps up and down makes you wonder… And then, there is Nibbs Carter with his neck made of steel headbanging, taunting the crowd and running around like this was his first time onstage. It feels great watching Nigel Glocker smashing the drum skins and enjoying the way the silent-force of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt’s photograph-worthy guitar playing. I think SAXON should be the definition of ‘being a well-oiled-machine’ and the benchmark for how a Metal band should perform live.

“Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)” and “Dallas 1 PM” went down equally great (again, the new tracks work great with the old), and then it was time to get another set of goosebumps listening to Lemmy’s loud statement “we are MOTÖRHEAD – we play Rock ‘n Roll” than in the previous SAXON show during “They Played Rock And Roll”. “Now we are getting warmed up” said Biff but unfortunately there would have been left well below than a dozen of songs to do... Damn, this would definitely felt like a snippet of a SAXON show. And it did, as I am pretty sure “Denim And Leather” was cut short, while there was not build-up before “Princess Of The Night” with Biff leaning on Paul’s shoulder... SAXON were rushing to squeeze as much music as possible and, in fact, after the “Sons Of Odin” debut (with SAXON as supporting act), the “Crusader” intro kicked in, but it quickly changed to “Heavy Metal Thunder”. So, it was a bitter-sweet taste I had watching the stage crew quickly dismantling the SAXON setup, because from on one hand, the Brits did deliver as they always do, and on the other, the time was too short to get the ‘getting-blown-away’ experience, after having witnessed a 2-hr NWOBHM steamroller stopping for no one. When is the next Easter celebration?

SAXON setlist:

01. “Thunderbolt”
02. “Power And The Glory”
03. “The Secret Of Flight”
04. “Motorcycle Man”
05. “Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)”
06. “Dallas 1 PM”
07. “They Played Rock And Roll”
08. “Denim And Leather”
09. “Princess Of The Night”
10. “Wheels Of Steel”
11. “Sons Of Odin”
12. “Heavy Metal Thunder”

SAXON

Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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For sure, there was a tight schedule to follow, so the moment SAXON left the stage, the crew started removing and adding things to get everything ready for the Metal Gods JUDAS PRIEST. Soon, a huge curtain was strategically dropped to block off the view of the stage and this made the anticipation even bigger. Everything followed the schedule like a Swiss clock and, 20 minutes past 9pm, the lights went out and BLACK SABBATH’s “War Pigs” started blasting off the speakers. It did not take long for the crowd to join in adding a little bit more excitement to the already high mood. Sure, the PRIEST is two men short but no matter what, it is still the fuckin’ PRIEST and this become obvious the moment the curtain dropped and saw the British band entering the stage with last but definitely not least the Metal God aka Rob Halford. Following an unofficial tradition, Rob sang the setlist opener and new LP title track wearing sunglasses, and without being certain I believe that he is doing this to hide the fact he is reading the lyrics most of the times. I don’t believe there was a single Metal heart inside the stadium to give a damn whether he was reading or not, because believe me, he sounded absolutely awesome. Yeah, the sound was loud and clear, and “Running Wild” sent shivers down my spine. Indeed, the PRIEST was back and right in front of us, and that’s what Rob said seconds before the trademark guitar groove of “Grinder” that marked the time for some headbanging. To my eyes, Richie Faulkner looked a lot more confident since the last time I had seen him with PRIEST, to such an extent that he has his own movers and poses, something that really works from the crowd’s point of view. Yeah, the way he was interacting with the audience at the first rows proves that he has found his own space, and this adds more points to the visual aspect of the band. The other half of the PRIEST guitar duo was Andy Sneap in full leather gear who was less ‘outgoing’, compared to Richie, but I think he did a great job filling Glenn’s heavy shoes, although I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that I missed Glenn’s guitar playing and stage presence.

It was really cool watching the computer graphics at the backdrop, supporting the thematics of some of the songs, like the awesome visualizations during “The Ripper” or the dramatic and kind of evil flavor during “Saints In Hell”. By the way, before this one, Rob took the time to thank the PRIEST fans for their support and this did not sound like a cheesy / crowd pleaser statement, but a sincere confession, which touched our hearts. Somehow, being grateful and appreciative has become the privilege of a small group of (mainly older) bands with most of the young being strangers to such feelings…

“Turbo” is one of the holy-trinity of albums that turned out to be a huge success in the US, so the louder singing along during “Turbo Lover” was kind of expected. And right there, the concert gained more energy backed up by the classic songs that will never get old, no matter how many times we’ll hear them live. I mean, seeing the “Defenders Of The Faith” cover artwork and getting to hear the guitar intro of “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” gives me goosebumps each and every time. By the way, this came almost without stopping after the new one “Evil Never Dies” and, as it happened with SAXON, the older tracks mixed with the new like there were no ages in between them. Speaking about ‘classics’, how can you not scream your lungs out the moment Rob asks: “Breaking the what?” Oh yeah, it was “Breaking The Law” time and everyone inside the Arena went crazy, and I believe the video in the back showing riots in the UK from the ‘60s / ‘70s made the lyrics feel more serious and - sadly - relevant to what is going on around the world nowadays too.

The band left the stage but the two-pistons-engine marked the time for “Hell Bent For Leather”. Of course, Rob showed up riding a shiny Harley in his leather gear and started singing from the driver’s seat. Again, no matter how many times I have seen this, it has the same effect and makes the song sounds ten times better. It was Scott Travis’ time to stand on the spotlight and I think he was the only one on stage as he started a drum solo, but soon enough it evolved into the “Painkiller” drum intro… Oh my, I don’t remember another JUDAS PRIEST concert seeing a mosh-pit right in the center, so kudos are in order for the younger part of the audience. On the same super-excited note came “The Hellion” intro which was another of the many goosebumps moments; the double guitar intro screams Tipton / Downing from miles away, and no matter the lineup, this will always be their thing. “You've Got Another Thing Comin'” and “Living After Midnight” were the last songs of the night, and even though the first one is a classic crowd-pleaser, it was the second one that boosted up the party-mood and dropped the curtain with a high climax moment. Again, seeing Rob staying on stage and singing along QUEEN’s “We Are The Champions” taped outro affirmed that the Metal God still has Metal running inside his veins and he is absolutely dedicated to the fans.

Seeing a band doing great from the studio can be attributed to the producer and all those people involved in the making of an LP, but seeing a band doing great on stage is exclusively due to the musicians’ dedication to the music and to their fans. And this is exactly how the fuckin’ PRIEST is proudly standing on the stage, so you should make sure to catch them on one of the many live dates. Yup, the PRIEST is (still) back!

JUDAS PRIEST setlist:

01. “Firepower”
02. “Running Wild”
03. “Grinder”
04. “Sinner”
05. “The Ripper”
06. “Lightning Strike”
07. “Bloodstone”
08. “Saints In Hell”
09. “Turbo Lover”
10. “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)”
11. “Evil Never Dies”
12. “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll”
13. “Breaking The Law”
14. “Hell Bent For Leather”
15. “Painkiller”
16. “The Hellion”
17. “Electric Eye”
18. “Metal Gods”
19. “You've Got Another Thing Comin'”
20. “Living After Midnight”

JUDAS PRIEST

Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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