They screamed for revenge. They are breaking the law. They lived after midnight.
OK, the last two are lies. But Judas Priest kicked ass and took names anyway Tuesday at San Antonio’s Tech Port Center + Arena, their first of a two-night stand in the “Heavy Metal Capital of Texas,” which Rob Halford described it. They even had the courtesy to end the show just after 1 p.m. 23, because even metalheads need their beauty rest.
Judas Priest are winding down their current North American leg 50 Heavy Metal year tourbut they showed no signs of fatigue as they ran through a career-spanning set of both hits and deep cuts that were markedly different from set list they used in the first half of 2022. Flanked on stage by the towering chimneys that paid tribute to G. & R. Thomas Ltd. foundry in Halford’s native Walsall, England, the Birmingham guys gave a whole new meaning to the word “metallurgist”, performing with surgical precision and pulverizing intensity.
After a muscular, career-exciting opening set off Queensryche (whose lead singer since 2012, Todd La Torre, gave Halford a run for his money with his glass-shattering screams on classics like “Queen of the Reich” and “Operation: Mindcrime”), Judas Priest’s attack began with “The Hellion / Electric eye. ” Guitarists Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap (who also co-produced 2018’s Firepower) threw themselves across the stage as they blasted Glenn Tipton and KK Downingepoch riffs with style and ease. Taking the first dizzying solo of the night, Sneap proved that he is just as important on stage as he is behind the mixer. And as Halford roared “I am made of metal” before the chorus, Faulkner pointed to the scar on his chest from the multiple open heart surgery he reviewed after rupture of an aorta on stage in 2021.
Like the rest of Priest’s set, the gesture was both poignant and hard as nails.
Halford, meanwhile, still seemed to be riding high from Priest’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction earlier this month. The 71-year-old frontman stalked the stage, stopping periodically to flash his devil horns at the frenzied crowd of around 3,000 fans, who happily reciprocated. Of course, Halford has tweaked his phrasing and delivery on certain songs to make them more bearable to sing night after night for half a century, but his husky, midrange growl still packs a punch and his piercing falsetto scream remains inimitable. The latter was particularly evident Stained class the gem “Beyond the Realms of Death” and more recent cuts like 2014’s “Halls of Valhalla” and 2018’s “Firepower”, proof that it has never crossed Priest’s mind to mellow with age.
Credit also goes to drummer Scott Travis, who joined Priest to rejuvenate the career Pain reliever and has given a more metallic edge to each subsequent release with its relentless double-kick work and supersonic fills. Travis and co-founding bassist Ian Hill locked into a wriggling groove on the hard-rocking “Devil’s Child” and powered the double-bass-heavy “Judas Rising” from 2005’s triumphant reunion album Angel of Retribution.
Between riding his Harley-Davidson on stage for “Hell Bent for Leather” and sitting up next to it huge inflatable bull who dominated the stage during “Living After Midnight,” Halford thanked the crowd for 50 years of support. “It’s all about you. It’s always been about you,” he said. “Without you, we have nothing.”
Judas Priest, 11/22/22, Tech Port Center + Arena, San Antonio
1. “The Hellion / Electric Eye”
2. “Riding the Wind”
3. “You’ve got another thing coming”
6. “Never the Heroes”
7. “Beyond the Realms of Death”
8. “Judas Rising”
9. “Devil’s Child”
12. “Between the hammer and the anvil”
13. “Halls of Valhalla”
14. “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Legged Crown)”
15. “Screaming for Vengeance”
16. “Hell bent for leather”
17. “Breaking the Law”
18. “Living After Midnight”
Judas Priest live in San Antonio, Nov. 22, 2022
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