Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre, Rosemont (US)

JUDAS PRIEST / URIAH HEEP

Date: 25th May, 2019
Venue: Rosemont Theatre
Ticket: $38/€34 - $97/€86
Promoter: Live Nation


JUDAS PRIEST have managed to rekindle the scene’s interest despite all the uncertainty after Tipton’s forced­ semi-retirement due to health issues and the split with K.K. Downing. The PRIEST machine seems to be working like a Swiss clock and with an impressive stamina continues touring the world supporting “Firepower”. Speaking of the new album, one has to acknowledge the fact that the British band has been adding songs from that album in the setlist and this is something I consider as crucial for a band that wants to still be a band and not a mere performer of the golden hits. I am sure you are aware of at least one band out there that has not released any new music lately but is still on the road living off the same-ol-hits.

On the same category belong URIAH HEEP who were chosen to open for PRIEST and who also have a brand new album to promote. Having those two legendary bands on the same billing made absolutely sense to take the drive down to Rosemont Theatre and get a hearty taste of fine British Hard Rock/Metal from two genre-shaping/history making bands. Ok, I had my reservations about the venue since I find it a bit strange seeing Metal shows in sitting arrangement and in a sterile theater environment but this is only a matter of personal taste. On the other hand, there was a clear view of the stage from almost everywhere and the sound was close to perfect so I should not be complaining.

After adjusting to the absence of a photo-pit and having to take photos from the isles, it was time to enjoy what URIAH HEEP had to offer. And that was nothing less than well-played Hard Rock with the right amount of nostalgia coming from the Hammond organ that is trademark for the Brits. I mean, “Graze By Heaven” is a 2018 song but has the '70s quality only bands like DEEP PURPLE and URIAH HEEP possess. This fast rocker showcased a band whose age does not agree with the onstage performance. Sure, experience has a lot to do with live performances but if you have been in more than just a handful of concerts you should be able to understand when the musicians genuinely love what they are doing without making like it is another day at work. Bernie Shaw is a powerful frontman and figuratively owns the stage meaning, that he knows what to do with himself to get the crowd going. And trust me, having everyone sitting made it look rather challenging to get people involved. Ok, the audience reacted with “Too Scared To Run” that made me realize that most people had come to see PRIEST and knew mainly the old material from URIAH HEEP. That’s an absolute shame and I hope the band did manage to relit the interest of the old and entice the young fans to see how URIAH HEEP are doing anno 2019. After all, the melodic and catchy “Take Away My Soul” turned out to be a perfect match to the old(er) songs.

“We have three decades of music”, said Bernie and made it clear how challenging it is to put together a representative setlist on a 40-minute slot. Anyways, the epic and Hammond-driven “Rainbow Demon” sounded amazing and sent massive shivers down my spine simply because it was executed at that level. Mick Box’s guitar sound was mesmerizing and I am sure this was noticed by the majority of the audience because the deeper we went into the set the more lively people looked. It was a clever move to alternate old with new songs, with “Knocking At My Door” coming without pausing. The question “why did I let this album slip through the cracks?” echoed in my mind quite a few times and I made pact with myself to change this after the show.

“How are you doing? We will go back to our first album with a song that has turned to be like an anthem. We enjoy it and we have played all around the world”, said Mick Box and let Phil Lanzon reveal with a keyboard melody  that “Gypsy” was next. It was an awesome feat to see Phil stepping into the spotlight during the solo with Mick and bassist Davey Rimmer stepping behind the amps. After “Look At Yourself”, Bernie introduced the band and on purpose, left Mick last to get a standing ovation that was absolutely worth it considering that he has been in URIAH HEEP since the late '60s. The momentum gathered from this introduction was maintained during “Stealin’” that was immediately recognized by the trademark bass lines in the beginning. By the way, the lit bass frets looked awesome on the stage. That’s what I am talking about on a Saturday night. Thank you”, said Bernie and added: JUDAS PRIEST will blast you into a different zip code”, right before the setlist closer that was the usual suspect of “Easy Livin”. Another standing ovation was the proper acknowledgement to this band that is still creating hits and has the energy and stamina to support the music from the stage.

URIAH HEEP setlist:

01. “Grazed By Heaven”
02. “Too Scared To Run”
03. “Take Away My Soul”
04. “Rainbow Demon”
05. “Knocking At My Door”
06. “Gypsy”
07. “Look At Yourself”
08. “Stealin'”
09. “Easy Livin'”

URIAH HEEP

Uriah Heep @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Uriah Heep @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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There was no doubt that the atmosphere inside the theatre was at the right place for the headliners. To my eyes, it seems like JUDAS PRIEST have widened their fanbase in the States, bringing in some fresh blood and that’s quite an accomplishment, especially when considering the number of new songs on the set. The internet had already spilled the beans that PRIEST had made changes to their setlist as compared to the last US run, so it was up to me to isolate myself as much as possible to enjoy the surprise. The only downside was that after taking the photos all the photographers had to return the cameras to their cars before getting inside to watch the show and that directive came from the PRIEST camp; at least that’s what I was told. Anyway, going for a short run was not bad enough to spoil the fun, right?

Right on schedule, the lights were dimmed and “War Pigs” started blasting off the PAs with everyone singing-along, meaning that everyone was in the appropriate mood to welcome the Metal God and his band. The lights went out as the intro for “Necromancer” kicked in. Some lightning-looking strobe-lights added the required dramatics as soon enough Rob’s silhouette became visible with the help of a spotlight. In every fricking PRIEST show, Rob is enough to skyrocket the excitement and this was no different. We are talking about a unique performer with an unmatched onstage presence and I don’t think there is a functioning brain out there to dispute this. The visuals were top-notch and the sound was crystal clear and therefore, I could hear how awesome Rob sounded but I would see my jaw drop many times later on the show.

If you have seen JUDAS PRIEST more than one time, then you should be aware that Rob usually has a teleprompter for the lyrics and he is using it during the new(er) songs. But more about this later… A short wait and the guitar duo of Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap stepped at the center of the stage and started the guitar rhythm of “Heading Out To The Highway” with the color of purple having a strong presence. There were too many cellphones during the first songs and that was annoying feat, but I guess it is more important for your “friends” to see where you spent your Saturday night instead of you having some Metal fun… The higher pitch of “Sentinel” was the first jaw-dropping moment as it sounded to me that Rob has the rare confidence to push his vocals to the studio standards and for this reason, he is the heart and soul of nowadays PRIEST and a role model for many Metal singers out there.

I missed “Spectre” because I had to run to return my camera to my car, so I got back during “(Take These) Chains”. I wished it had been for a song that I hadn’t listened before, but this agreement was no negotiable and there was no option to miss the rest of the show to avoid a little bit of panting hard… Once again, the lights went out and under the PRIEST, PRIESTchant, the cover artwork of “Angel Of Retribution” rose up at the jumpotron with Rob starting off the opening lyrics of “Judas Rising” in his trademark stance holding the mic with both hands at the middle of the stage (yeah, he may be reading the lyrics). Since there was no photo pit, the distance between Rob and the front rows was at arm’s length, meaning that the cellphones were almost in his face… It is ok to film the show (borderline ‘ok’ if you’d ask me) but disturbing the singer is a whole different game. Rob got fed up with this situation and somewhere before the first chorus he kicked a cellphone off the hands of its owner. I cannot say I felt bad about this and just like many around me I laughed and thought “you had that coming”. Although, I was sure that this incident would be soon blown out of proportions as there were too many cellphones documenting this.

A disco ball was raised at the back and the rare for a JUDAS PRIEST song keyboard intro meant it was time for the first surprise of the night; that’s right, “Out In The Cold” was next, and even though it comes from an album that was written to become successful in the States, hence more commercial, it gave me more goosebumps. Damn, the vocals were right on point and I think the singing-along was quite loud. As I said, there were more songs from “Firepower” with “Traitors Gate” being a new addition. The riff after the clean guitar intro sounded badass and headbanging was the only thing to do. I am fully aware that I have already mentioned Rob’s performance more than I should, but man, “Halls Of Valhalla” blew my socks and my eardrums off… Richie showed up and started another riff attack but everything sounded pale in comparison to the earthshaking scream by Rob. I am sure this scream reached Valhalla and made its walls shake a bit.

After the awesome “Tyrant”, Rob said: “How are you? It is good to be back in Chicago. This band has been playing Metal for 50 years” and he concluded: “We never give in, we never give up, we never surrender” was the best set of words to introduce “No Surrender”. Another new one, that sounded awesome with the video clip projected at the screen. This was a way to bring Tipton into the show with the no surrender getting a deeper meaning considering his health issues. Once again, the two guitarists stood at the center of the stage and this time they started the intro of one of the most vocal-challenging PRIEST songs; that’s right that deep into the set and Rob was about to start singing “Victim Of Changes”… This was another (if not the) goosebumps/jaw-drop moment but there was more to come; “twisting the strangle grip / won't give no mercy” were the a cappela sung lyrics I needed to recognize what was next. That’s right; “All Guns Blazing” made back in the set and made my blood boil reminding of my teenage years when I bought “Painkiller” and I was mad with PRIEST for sounding like… PANTERA… Little did I now but I kept on listening. That was the end of the regular set but it was bound to be more. Instead of a riff, the revving of a twin came engine (you know the manufacturer) marked the time for the classic JUDAS PRIEST ending; “Hell Bent For Leather”, “Breaking The Law” and “Living After Midnight” were the usual suspects and, honestly, even if I had listened to those songs 666 times, I enjoyed them as much as I did the first time. The first of the three was not extended while the oooohs were loud enough during the second. After “Living After Midnight” and after the selfie-with-the-crowd, Rob remained on stage to state; “we are JUDAS fuckin’ PRIEST.

After greeting everyone (even the guy with the cellphone), he pointed at the screen that read “The PRIEST will be back”. Do I need to say more? He is the Metal God!

JUDAS PRIEST setlist:

01. “Necromancer”
02. “Heading Out To The Highway”
03. “The Sentinel”
04. “Spectre”
05. “(Take These) Chains”
06. “Judas Rising”
07. “Out In The Cold”
08. “Traitors Gate”
09. “Starbreaker”
10. “Steeler”
11. “Halls Of Valhalla”
12. “Prelude”
13. “Tyrant”
14. “No Surrender”
15. “Victim Of Changes”
16. “All Guns Blazing”
17. “Hell Bent For Leather”
18. “Breaking The Law”
19. “Living After Midnight”

JUDAS PRIEST

Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Priest @ Rosemont Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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