September 18th, 2019

Judas Priest unleashes metal ‘Firepower’

By Beeber, Al on June 12, 2019.

Veteran British rockers wow city audience

Review by Al Beeber

Lethbridge Herald

abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Why Judas Priest is not yet in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a mystery and an injustice. Formed 50 years ago – yes five complete decades – back in 1969, Judas Priest has not only blazed trails, it has completely crushed convention.

A leading light in the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Judas Priest is a tour de force with an energy and presence that commands respect and deserves admiration.

In front of a rather woeful-sized crowd who made up for their lack of numbers in enthusiasm, Judas Priest gave southern Alberta fans at the Enmax Centre a lesson in rock and roll on Monday night.

With founding member Ian Hill pounding out wicked bass lines beside the drum kit, Judas Priest turned a mundane June Monday into a memorable one.

Singer Rob Halford, who made leather and studs a staple of rock fashion, walked onto the stage from behind a curtain looking like heavy metal royalty with a flowing purple cape. With the twin guitar assault of Richie Faulkner and touring member Andy Sneap, bassist Hill and drummer Travis Scott, the Priest showed Lethbridge how rock and roll is done.

With founding guitarist K.K. Downing long retired and bandmate Glen Tipton suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Judas Priest never missed a beat with its latest virtuosos.

The talent of Faulkner and Sneap is breathtaking; not only are they superb soloists but they have taken the parts of Downing and Tipton and made them their own, working as a team on the Priest’s vast repertoire.

The show opened with “Necromancer” from the new “Firepower” album which got fans out of their seats practically from the first drumbeat. They then did the radio-friendly “Heading out To The Highway” before stunning the crowd with a spectacular version of “Judas Rising,” backlit by a flaming video display behind them that was breathtaking.

The light show mellowed into one of pastels and greens as the band segued into “Out in The Cold.”

Halford’s unbelievable multi-octave vocal range was showcased on the song “Traitor’s Gate” which had the crowd roaring.

Midway through the set, Halford briefly chatted with the audience, mentioning the band’s 50-year career and telling them that the heavy metal world is a community.

“We never give up, we never give in,” he said before the band played the tune “No Surrender.”

Halford also acknowledged to the crowd his appreciation for their disappointment that Uriah Heep cancelled its performance at the last minute. Canadian singer Bernie Shaw fell ill with a kidney stone, which the band revealed on Tuesday, and couldn’t perform. From personal experience, I can tell you a kidney stone will put a grown man down and make him cry for mercy.

Heep founding member Mick Box and the rest of the band came on stage moments before Priest’s set and apologized to the audience for the unexpected turn of events. This was the second show in a week that at least one performance had to be cancelled. The entire show was scrapped last Wednesday in the U.S. after Halford came down with bronchitis.

But Halford’s own illness wasn’t even evident. He sung hard, he sung long and he wowed the audience with his voice, another highlight being “Halls of Valhalla.”

Despite their disappoinment, even hard-core Heep fans – several of whom told me they bought tickets just to see Box and company – had to leave feeling “Hell Bent for Leather” after Priest’s spectacular performance.

This was metal done right.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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