If you think that Judas Priest is ready to hang it up, you’ve got another think coming. Currently on tour with Steel Panther in support of their 17th studio album, Redeemer of Souls, Judas Priest played to a packed house on Tuesday night, in Kansas City.
hen Steel Panther is the support act on a bill, you know you’re in for quite a ride. Performing in the same room they sold out last year, Steel Panther had a new album of their own to promote,
All You Can Eat, taking to the stage at 8:00 (or near enough), unlike many of the 80’s bands they revive.
Steel Panther wasted no time in showing off their new material, opening their set with the first two tracks from their latest release, “Pussywhipped,” and “Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World.” The guys took a break from music to introduce themselves, and each other, with Lexxi calling Michael a fat Bret Michaels, and Satchel calling him a thin Vince Neil. This led up to my favorite song of theirs, “Asian Hooker.” Anyone who can successfully rhyme South Korea with gonorrhea deserves some kind of props.
The party continued onstage, with the guys inviting some women in the crowd to join them, which they did, dancing, and flashing, for the last few numbers. By the end of the set, Satchel called attention to a 10 year old girl up front, and praised her parents as “the best parents ever” for bringing her to a Steel Panther show, pointing out that when she grows up she’ll be “a metal chick and not another Britney Spears” perfectly leading into “Death to all but Metal” to close out their set. Everything seems to fall into place perfectly at Steel Panther shows. Do these guys script this?
After a short break to clear the stage, and get Judas Priest’s banner up, War Pigs blasted through the theater as the lights dimmed, while everyone sang along. The opening chords for ‘Battle Cry’ rumbled from behind the curtain, before it dropped and the band played “Dragonaut,” opening track from their latest release.
Judas Priest’s set included a mix of new material, and classics. Even performing a 2-hour set, Priest couldn’t begin to cover all the fan favorites, and there were certainly omissions (I would like to have heard “Diamonds and Rust”), but with 17 albums worth of material to cover, it’s understandable that not everything could make the cut.
Redeemer of Souls was the first album released without founding guitarist K.K. Downing, and his absence was apparent, visually, on stage. Richie Faulker more than filled his shoes, with the new material, and in covering the old; normally, when a band sees line-up changes, it can begin to have an effect on new songs…this was not the case with Judas Priest, as the new stuff holds up very well against the classics (“Redeemer of Souls” has been in constant rotation on my phone the past couple of weeks).
While heavy metal is largely about the music, there’s always some kind of spectacle that enhances the concert going experience. Priest used LCD screens, which covered the stage, to shoot fire, display album art, or transport us to the Halls of Valhalla (which they did, during the song of the same name).
For most of the show, Rob Halford donned his trademark studded leather trench coat, departing the stage briefly to change into a silver one for “Turbo Lover,” and again to get a riding crop, and cap, for “Hell Bent for Leather,” riding in on a motorcycle. Amazingly, after almost two hours onstage, without break, Halford effortlessly reached, and sustained, soaring falsettos. Now aged 63, Rob sounds as good, if not better, than when British Steel, and Screaming for Vengeance were released.
Near the end of the set, Rob took the time to express his gratitude for the fans, and their continued support and love of their music, realizing they couldn’t be up there, without people paying to see them. A notion, unfortunately, lost on some musicians these days…without making expressed promises, Rob seemed to indicate they had no intention of slowing down, and that there will be more shows, and possibly albums to come. If there are, you can be sure that I’ll be there.