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REVIEW: Judas Priest delivers final-round knockout blow

November 10th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

Review & photos by Ben Hansen

SALT LAKE CITY — Judas Priest has delivered the goods for 40 years, overcoming numerous challenges such as band members quitting, changing record companies, subliminal-message lawsuits, drug abuse and a long hiatus, to name a few. Yet somehow vocalist Rob Halford, guitarist Glen Tipton, bassist Ian Hill, drummer Scott Travis, and new guitarist Richie Faulkner have managed to press on, aptly earning the brand “Metal Gods” after their song of the same name.

The band recently revealed their mortality with the press conference announcing the 2011 Epitaph tour. This tour is to serve as a large-scale global farewell tour to many audiences throughout the world. While the band hinted at the possibility of future concentrated tour dates to support further album releases, this will be their last major global trek.

The Epitaph tour arrived at the Maverik Center in West Valley City recently and delivered everything that most lifelong Judas Priest fans could want. With songs from every album, plenty of pyrotechnics, blazing guitar solos, and an abundance of high-octave screaming and strong operatic vocals, this was indeed the way a band’s swan song should be done.

One of the most recent changes, the retirement of guitarist and founding member Ken “K.K.” Downing, left many to wonder how the band would be able to adequately fill the void left by losing half of their guitar tandem. The classic twin guitar attack sound that helped define Judas Priest was proven alive and well, as Glen Tipton and new guitarist Richie Faulkner traded blistering riffs seamlessly. Faulkner brought an additional energy and enthusiasm that hasn’t been as prevalent in Judas Priest in recent years as he bounded about the stage, giving an older seasoned band an infusion of youth that enlivened the other band member’s performances.

Rob Halford, clad in his signature leather and with his standard shaved head, wailed out an array of high notes and screams reminiscent of his form during the Painkiller era over twenty years ago. Songs like Night Crawler, Blood Red Skies, and The Sentinel were sung with such intensity that one could easily envision Halford playing this live in front of them in previous decades.

The songs played covered every era of Judas Priest, including rare gems like Starbreaker from the album Sin After Sin and Never Satisfied, from the band’s 1973 debut album Rocka Rolla. Time-honored favorites like Turbo Lover, Breaking the Law, and The Green Manilishi were met with the crowd singing along with Halford, note for note. Encores of Electric Eye, Livin’ After Midnight, and You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ rounded out the night long after the usual curfew cutoff for West Valley City. Nothing was going to stop Priest from delivering a memorable farewell show, as well after 11:00 Rob Halford was pulling out onto the stage on his Harley Davidson to fulfill the encore of Hell Bent for Leather as only they can do it.

Leave it to Judas Priest to be “Breaking the Law” on their farewell tour. Forever the staple of rebellion and metal, the band used this tour to help us to recall just how deep their catalogue is, and how Judas Priest was instrumental in forming the heavy metal scene from the very beginning. Long live the Priest!


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