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JUDAS PRIEST, SAXON, BSR In Worcester, MA

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Wednesday, March 28, 2018 @ 9:10 AM


At The Worcester Palladium March 23rd, 2018

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All Photos By George Dionne

Friday March 23rd was a particularly memorable night for me as I experienced four separate "firsts" while in attendance for the latest stop on the JUDAS PRIEST "Firepower" tour.

The first three of these new experiences were simply seeing the three bands in concert for the first time ever. I was at the show with my buddy George (any photos accompanying this article are from him) and ran into Ashley, another friend of mine, for a brief hello as we stood in line to get into the venue.

The last of the firsts was that this was this marked the first concert that I have gone to where I have worn earplugs. Yes, I have to admit that I've crossed over the line to where the volume has made me "too old". But it was a good thing I had the plugs in because when I had to adjust the plugs during the PRIEST and SAXON sets, I thought my ear drums were going to go out the other side of my head. It was a brief period of adjustment during the BLACK STAR RIDERS set, but overall my enjoyment of the show was not really all that affected.

The first thing I noticed about the entire production of the show was that it was run with a really crisp discipline. I had seen on the BLACK STAR RIDERS Facebook page a listing of when each band would hit the stage. And they really kept to that schedule.

When BLACK STAR RIDERS hit the stage I was reminded how much I enjoyed singer Ricky Warwick's vocals and the guitar work from Damon Johnson. I loved his band SLAVE TO THE SYSTEM so much that I actually was an adminstrator on their message board for a while. Anyway, their eight song set opened with "All Hell Breaks Loose" which really captured the crowd from the start.

However, I was really kind of disappointed in how they amped up "Jailbreak" into a far more metallic song. It lost something from its original incarnation under the THIN LIZZY banner to this redesigned format. I thought "Heavy Fire" was a bit disappointing as well.

Thankfully, after that brief downturn, the band hit its stride for the rest of the set and really delivered the goods. They were seriously good and reeled me in with their performance. The two Celtic-tinged songs "Soldierstown" and "Kingdom Of The Lost" were my favorites on the night from the band.

It was the kind of performance that if you were a fan sitting on the fence about them, it would convert you over to the band.

Setlist:

  • "All Hell Breaks Loose"
  • "Jailbreak"
  • "Heavy Fire"
  • "Soldierstown"
  • "The Killer Instinct"
  • "When The Night Comes In"
  • "Kingdom Of The Lost"
  • "Bound For Glory"
Now I have to say that I've never really been that big a fan of SAXON. Other than "Denim and Leather", I kind of missed the boat on them entirely. I was seemingly in the minority on that front though because there was an awful lot of fans that there were heavy into them.

Not wanting to seem completely ignorant, I looked up the set list online before the show and checked out the songs via Youtube. A couple of songs were cringeworthy but otherwise I liked a lot of what I heard. That translated well for when SAXON launched their set with "Thunderbolt", the title track from their latest album. A SAXON fan sitting next to me remarked after the set that it was the loudest he'd ever heard the band. The band seems to play with their set list a bit from time to time because "This Town Rocks" was put into the show in place of another song and it got the crowd fired up that much more.

I know they have a long history so I likely should've known better, but I found myself rather surprised by how much I enjoyed the SAXON performance. The songs from the new album included the MOTORHEAD inspired "They Played Rock and Roll" and "The Secret of Flight" which I loved. But I wasn't crazy about "Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)" as it comes off cartoonish whether in the studio or live.

Singer Biff Byford was excellent, but on "Dallas 1pm" the volume got so high that his vocals got overwhelmed at times in the song. The song is especially fitting to play in Massachusetts since it was about the Kennedy assassination and this was Kennedy's home state.

After that little hiccup the show proceeded apace and was quite exhilarating. I thought "Princess Of The Night" was better live than on record and after chanting along with the aforementioned "Denim and Leather", I was completely on board with the rest of the crowd who showered SAXON with a large standing ovation as they left the stage.

I'm not saying that I'm going to go buy their entire back catalog, but this show made me want to go out and check out their Thunderbolt album for sure.

Setlist:

  • "Thunderbolt"
  • "This Town Rocks"
  • "The Secret Of Flight"
  • "Motorcycle Man"
  • "Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)"
  • "Dallas 1pm"
  • "They Played Rock and Roll"
  • "Denim And Leather"
  • "Wheels Of Steel"
  • "Princess Of The Night"
  • "Heavy Metal Thunder"
After a successful appetizer course with BLACK STAR RIDERS and SAXON, it was soon time for the main course and reason we were all there for the sold out show...JUDAS PRIEST!

But not before the crowd sang along to BLACK SABBATH's "War Pigs" as it played over the PA preceding the start of PRIEST's show. There's a brief video of that self-serenade by the audience on Youtube and it is both cool and a little hilarious.

As I said, I've never seen JUDAS PRIEST before so I had high hopes and it likely comes as no surprise but my expectations were met! Much like IRON MAIDEN, PRIEST made judicious use of the background video screen to enhance the show alongside the lights and effects.

The band hit the stage with the title track to their new album Firepower and from the get go, they were pretty much on fire throughout the tightly woven but incredible 19 song set.

Guitarists Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap (touring in place of Glenn Tipton) kept the crowd in a frenzy all night long as Rob Halford delivered each vocal coup de grace with aplomb. I had seen him as a solo act with where he did some PRIEST material but seeing it now AS JUDAS PRIEST made it that much more enjoyable an experience.

Songs I've listened to for years came alive as the band powered through "Grinder", a particularly enjoyable rendition of "The Ripper", "Bloodstone" and "Turbo Lover". Besides the title song, the Firepower album was represented with two other songs in the "single" track "Lightning Strike" and "Evil Never Dies".

You can't have gone home disappointed with the band's set list even if you wished they had hit a particular era or album that they left out. (Personally I wish something from Ram It Down had made the cut.) The one kink in an otherwise fantastic show was on "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", there was a slight vocal issue that I didn't like. But all that was soon forgotten as Halford rode onto the stage with smoke and the motorcycle to belt out "Hell Bent For Leather".

I don't know if it is always a thing, but I loved how drummer Scott Travis got to hype the crowd and introduce "Painkiller" given how the opening of the song is such a showcase for him on the drums. As I said, Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap help give life to the band's sound as it is now. They energize the band and crowd even moreso than you might expect them to. But it was the appearance of Glenn Tipton for the three song encore that really brought down the house on this night. Given the situation with his health, this isn't a shocker. There's no set way to know if Tipton will be playing on a given night, so I didn't know if I'd get to see him. But seeing him play my favorite JUDAS PRIEST song ,"Breaking The Law", was a dream I didn't know I had come true! It was phenomenal!

Seeing JUDAS PRIEST live was a first for me, but the show itself was more than simply crossing a line off a list. This night was about seeing "The Metal Gods" and knowing that they lived up to all of their legendary status. Defenders of the Faith indeed!

Setlist

  • "Firepower"
  • "Running Wild"
  • "Grinder"
  • "Sinner"
  • "The Ripper"
  • "Lightning Strike"
  • "Bloodstone"
  • "Saints In Hell"
  • "Turbo Lover"
  • "The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)"
  • "Evil Never Dies"
  • "Some Heads Are Gonna Roll"
  • "You've Got Another Thing Comin'"
  • "Hell Bent For Leather"
  • "The Hellion / Electric Eye"
  • "Painkiller"
Encore
  • "Metal Gods
  • "Breaking The Law"
  • "Living After Midnight"
Check out some more photos from the show!
All Photos By George Dionne


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