Judas Priest was Unleashed in the East once again last Saturday night. Well, at least east of Chicago, that is – Hammond, Indiana – home of The Venue inside of the Horseshoe Casino. Getting big time support from Thin Lizzy and Black Label Society, Judas Priest bulldozed their way through a two and a half hour set in what the band is calling the “Epitaph” tour – their final farewell. Sold out, The Venue proved it can handle even the mightiest of metal shows hosting a monster stage and laser light show and providing superb acoustics so that every bone-crushing crunch from the guitars were clearly heard as intended by the band.
Legendary frontman Rob Halford teams up with originals Glen Tipton and bassist Ian Hill on this tour along with Richie Faulkner on lead guitar and Scott Travis on the drums. While keeping the crux of the sound intact, Faulkner also brings his own style to the band, which is more on the young at heart side, to a band that could use a youthful infusion when it comes to the visual part of the performance. Even though Tipton seemed a bit fragile and Halford a bit less mobile, make no mistake about it – Judas Priest still gets it done. The fact of the matter is that the band flat out rocks with authority.
Halford showed off his high-pitched vocals with relentless fervor, sounding as good as ever, while his showmanship was still that of top caliber. Changing from one metal-studded jacket to another from song to song, Halford patrolled the stage with a mighty presence as the band took the audience on a memorable journey of metal nostalgia. Taking a stop or two on many of the band’s albums, Halford included a little history lesson with most and shared fond memories. The set list was vast and included such favorites as “Victim of Changes”, “Diamonds and Rust”, ‘The Sentinel”, “Heading Out to the Highway” and “The Green Manalishi”. The band also played “Breaking the Law” but let the crowd sing the words from beginning to end as Halford stood by directing and admiring loyal Priest followers.
With already more than a full night of music in the books, Judas Priest went into their first encore with a power-packed version of “The Hellion” and “Electric Eye” before bringing the Harley Davidson onto the stage for “Hell Bent for Leather” followed by “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” led by a British and American flag clad Rob Halford. The band then took their bows to roaring applause and walked off stage only to return to do their party on classic, “Living After Midnight”.
We’ve heard the words “Farewell Tour” many times only to see a band resurface down the road. However, if the “Epitaph” tour (expected to run through 2013) is really it for this band from Birmingham, England, then they left on a powerful note. Producing metal since 1969, Judas Priest has influenced so many bands that since followed as well as generations of fans. To see them perform at the high level they have maintained for over four decades was nothing short of special.