They are still a force to be reckoned with five decades later
Last night, metal juggernauts Judas Priest kicked off their 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour at the Santander Arena in Reading, PA. After the trek was postponed last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the hard rock icons finally are finally get the opportunity to celebrate their five decades of dominance. The tour is being fueled by the highest-charting album of Priest’s career, Firepower, which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 in 2019.
Judas Priest have long been synonymous with heavy metal. Since their inception, Judas Priest increased their speed, volume, and intensity. They wrote blueprints for generations of hard music acts to follow. Now, Priest are celebrating a storied career with stacks of old, rusted metal on the stage. However, their performance is anything but.
Swedish metal titans Sabaton made the trip overseas to kick off the evening’s festivities. In an exclusive interview with The Rock Revival before the launch of the tour, frontman Joakim Brodén talks about jamming to Judas Priest’s Painkiller while hanging out after rehearsals with bassist Pär Sundström. It was evident on stage that supporting Judas Priest was a true honor for Sabaton.
Sabaton started off with “Ghost Division” followed by “The Attack of the Dead Men.” The set included their cover of Radio Tapok’s “Defense of Moscow” and their latest single “Steel Commanders,” the later of which was played live for the first time ever. Other highlight included “The Red Baron,” “The Last Stand,” “Bismarck,” “Primo Victoria,” and more. They closed out their set with “To Hell and Back.”
While certainly a niche band in metal music, Sabaton are a thrill to see live. Monster riffs and sweeping melodies accompanied by Brodén’s soaring vocals captivated the crowd before Judas Priest. It will be no surprise to see Sabaton win over some new fans on this run.
Finally, Judas Priest roared onto the stage with their lengthy epic “One Shot at Glory” from their 1990 masterpiece Painkiller. They followed it up with “Lightning Strike” from their latest effort Firepower. Then, they really got things going with their punishing hit “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.” At that moment, it was apparent that Priest are still here and they mean business.
The band made it clear that this was indeed an anniversary celebration. Priest proceeded to play a hefty 18-song set featuring songs from 12 studio albums. Highlights included “Exciter,” “Turbo Lover,” “A Touch of Evil,” “Rocka Rolla,” “Victim of Changes,” and others.
At the end of the set, the band put together possibly the greatest home stretch of a Judas Priest set. They closed out with “Painkiller,” which one could argue is the single best heavy metal song of all time. While the crowd roared for some more British steel, “The Hellion” began blasting through the speakers. Priest returned for an epic encore of “Electric Eye,” “Hell Bent for Leather, “Breaking The Law,” and “Living After Midnight.”
Last night’s electrifying tour kickoff on the heels of the highest-charting album of their career is a firm indication that this is by no means a farewell trek for the mighty Judas Priest.
The North American leg of Judas Priest’s 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour with Sabaton wraps up on November 5.