It was chilly, rainy Black Friday in Texas, and the lines were forming outside The Factory in Deep Ellum. The fans weren’t waiting for any sale; they were waiting to get in and experience 50 years of metal. Judas Priest, with their special guests Queensrÿche, were set to play here tonight. This fan base had a wide range walking up into the middle of it. You had many young and older adults and women and many different styles waiting to assemble in the church of Heavy Metal! The fans were all over the venue, buying merch, food, and drinks and making their way up to the front as close as possible to the stage to get a good view of the show we were about to witness.
As the lights went down and Queensrÿche was about to take the stage, you could feel the anticipation growing in the air to get this night of heavy metal started. The fans were chanting Queensrÿche over and over, waiting for the members to take the stage. Suddenly their walkout music started blasting throughout the Factory, and it was Walk by local heroes Pantera; the crowd erupted with cheers and sang along to every song, patiently waiting as the band began to take the stage! They all walked out and jumped straight into their set, with Todd unleashing an incredible scream and began singing their opening song, Queen of the Reich, from their self-titled EP released in 1983. The band finished that song, and the fans cheerfully erupted. The band members got set to keep this heavy session rolling, kicked off into The Warning, and began audibly and visually assaulting our senses with the music and live show taking place on the stage as they shredded on the guitars and thunderous drums. As the band got set to start with their next song, you could hear the fans yelling, cheering, and telling the band how much they loved them. Todd began speaking to the packed house full of fans and told them this is some old-school rock, and we are about to take you back to 1984. He said this song is called En Force, and the band began kicking it off as he sang the song and hit notes; I was unaware those notes were even possible and sounded incredible with every line. They continued crushing the crowd with heavy riffs and fantastic music throughout the rest of their set, as they have done to the masses for many years now. Towards the end of their set, Todd told the fans they were going to play a new one for them called In Extremis off of their latest album Digital Noise Alliance released in 2022 and is found everywhere you get music for you to enjoy. After the last song, they thanked the crowd and walked off the stage as the fans erupted with applause and cheer after witnessing an incredible performance.
It was getting closer to time for the Metal God Rob Halford and Judas Priest to take the stage, and you could feel the energy in the venue growing as every minute ticked by getting closer to time. As it got closer, a significant Judas Priest metal symbol came down from the rafters. It hovered above the stage as Black Sabbath’s War Pigs blared over the speakers, setting the tone for the rest of the night and what we could expect to see as the crowd sang along with the song waiting patiently to keep this insane night of heavy metal going. As some of the band members took the stage, a spoken word began playing as the Judas Priest symbol began rising and glowing bright red and turning upright for the multitude of fans to see. As it rose to the top, the lights started coming on and lighting up, pointing into the fans all over the Factory. Rob Halford joined the rest of the band and kicked off into Electric Eye, and the fans began simultaneously singing along with the band. As they finished that song, the band jumped straight into Riding on the Wind, off one of their bestselling albums, Screaming for Vengeance. Listening to this song, you can hear Rob still reaching deep down and hitting those high notes in the song like he has always done. The fans began chanting Priest repeatedly in between the songs as they finished this song. After their second song, Rob Halford started to talk to the crowd and let them know that the Priest was back. He then asked if they were ready for some more Judas Priest style heavy metal, and the fans immediately erupted with cheers and screaming for them to continue assaulting our eyes and ears with their unique songs and stage performance. He asked them again if they were sure, then he asked if they were ready. Are you sure you’re ready? They assured him they were prepared to continue rocking through the night. Priest then jumped straight into another one of their hit songs, You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’, and fans began singing along, but many were unable to hit those high notes like Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rob Halford could. This band came to rock throughout the night to show the fans their last 50 years of Heavy Metal. They kept rocking through the night and ended their set with an incredible performance of Living After Midnight, and the fans still wanted more as they finished and walked off the stage, thanking the fans.
This show was my first time getting to see either of these bands even though they have been playing for years, and what I wouldn’t give to be able to have seen them when I was younger and seen what it was all about then. I was amazed at the performances these bands gave the fans and what a production it is, and I hope to be able to catch a few more of their shows until they don’t tour anymore. Although I never got to see them in the 80s, it seemed like you had just stepped out of a time machine once you walked into the venue. It was as if you were right back where it all began, with all the fans chanting and hanging on to every lyric and beat coming from the stage. It felt like all the videos I had watched of the out-of-this-world concerts from them back in the day when they were just getting started. If you can see them on this tour or any future ones, I will tell you it will not disappoint. I will not miss it because it is an experience you will not soon forget from the sights and sounds and camaraderie of the fans walking around greeting and talking to everyone. I am still thinking about this show and what an experience it was to get to go and see it firsthand.
Judas Priest Setlist:
- War Pigs (Black Sabbath) Song played from tape
- The Hellion (Judas Priest) Song played from tape
- Electric Eye
- Riding on the Wind
- You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
- Never the Heroes
- Beyond the Realms of Death
- Judas Rising
- Devil’s Child
- Between the Hammer and the Anvil
- Halls of Valhalla
- The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)
(Fleetwood Mac cover)
Words and Photos by Craig Youngblood