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Judas Priest, Verizon Theater, Grand Prairie, Texas, Monday 13 July, 2015 – Reviewed

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People tend to misjudge me. Sure, my face and skull are slathered in arachnid tattoos and I have body piercings that are only seen by the occasional shocked emergency room physician, but at my core, I’m really not a metal guy. I’m too beholden to lyrics and melody for the genre to work for me on a regular basis. My limited range of neck motion makes me an incompetent head banger. Still, I had a passing interest in seeing Judas Priest and when I scored discounted tickets at less than $10 bucks, it became a pretty safe bet for my entertainment value.

Judas Priest released their first album in the early days of the Gerald Ford administration and scored a dozen gold and platinum albums in the U.S. between 1977 and 1990. Lead singer Rob Halford left the band in 1992, after mainstream metal acts had been pushed aside by the grunge movement, and returned in 2003 to reestablish touring, if not commercial sales, viability. In an interview last year with my old acquaintance/tape trading friend Mitch Lafon, Halford noted that he was “frustrated” that he didn’t have the vocal range of his youth, but was still working hard to retain as much strength as possible. That work was evident last evening, as Halford can still jarringly shriek into the stratosphere, showing his chops on numbers like “Victim of Change” and “Painkiller.”

In 2015, Judas Priest still puts on an arena rock show writ large – elevated drum riser, the trademark twin lead guitars, multiple video screens with images used to reinforce the theme of the song being performed, smoke machines, and several tiers of lights flashing rapidly on the band and in the crowd (probably not a friendly show for the seizure prone). The band’s setlist has had little variation during this tour and everything is played perfectly in sync. This was the type of show that was (a) very impressive as a performance within the genre of the band, but (b) I had little emotional connection to, since I’ve never felt the need to scream about “metal gods” or “Valhalla.”

Clocking in at just over an hour and a half, the show seemed a bit longer than it was, with an unnecessary solo on the extended version of “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” and the similar tempo of many of the songs. Halford exited the stage quite frequently throughout the night, most likely to keep his vocal chords soaked and he held up well until using the crowd sing the chorus cop out late in the set.

For an old fashioned, pump fisting night of late ‘70s/early ‘80s metal, it’s hard to imagine that few bands have held up as well as the current touring version of Judas Priest. Rob Halford might not look quite as comfortable on the prop motorcycle in 2015 as he did in his youth, but he’s still aged better than most of his competitors.

Grade – B+

Setlist:

Dragonaut

Metal Gods

Devil’s Child

Victim of Changes

Halls of Valhalla

Turbo Lover

Redeemer of Souls

Beyond the Realms of Death

Jawbreaker

Breaking the Law

Hell Bent for Leather

 

Encore:

Electric Eye

You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

Painkiller

Living After Midnight

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