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KK'S PRIEST, LA GUNS, BURNING WITCHES In Ft. Lauderdale, FL

By Shelly Harris, Chicago Contributor
Tuesday, March 12, 2024 @ 5:45 AM


At The Culture Room March 7th

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Photos By Shelly Harris

It had been three long years since the announcement of the KK'S PRIEST project, but the USA finally got its first sermon from "the Sinner" (KK Downing and Co) on March 7 in Ft Lauderdale at the Culture Room, and to say it was worth the wait, is a definite understatement.

Just off the Monsters of Rock Cruise that morning (preceded by worthy openers BURNING WITCHES and LA GUNS), the band was primed for the entire set - rushing out with a cocksure confidence and easy-going bravado that one might expect from such an illustrious collection of musicians, beginning with guitarist KK Downing himself, along with vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens (formerly of JUDAS PRIEST), bassist (producer, engineer and founder of VOODOO SIX) Tony Newton, co-lead guitarist AJ Mills (formerly of HOSTILE), and drummer Sean Elg (of THE THREE TREMORS, CAGE, and others).

As many might know, after KK's departure from JUDAS PRIEST 13 years ago, the controversy that followed, and failure of reconciliation attempts, Downing took hold of his destiny and legacy as a founding member of PRIEST by putting together this new project just prior to the Covid onslaught. Two brilliant albums followed (Sermons of The Sinner and The Sinner Returns) with the same highly competent line-up in the studio and Live since 2021, and with KK himself writing the material for both albums. Although the band have had tours of the UK and Europe since the release of the first album, this US debut was a roaring, refined, and raucous explosion featuring songs from both KK'S PRIEST albums and a handful of renowned JUDAS PRIEST classics, too (ie, "The Green Manalishi" and "Breaking The Law").

A rare treat it was, too, to witness this band that is totally ready for prime time and the big stages in every respect, in the tiny 650 capacity Culture Room that was packed to the rafters. (Undoubtedly, the band had to forego some of their props used for the larger stages at this venue, but the proximity to the crowd more than made up for it.) Literally firing on all cylinders, KK'S PRIEST featured all the trademarks of the JUDAS PRIEST sound - the mesmerizing industrial bass and drum resonance, the twin-guitar harmonies and lead swapping, the high-pitched siren calls of the lead vocalist, and the dynamic stage presence on steroids - while also adding a fresh twist. In particular, "Ripper" hit the nail on the head of the highest notes at every juncture of the set, and with a wry smile and nonchalant confidence he stalked and commanded the boards in his own unique style.

Not that there's anything wrong with having two versions of PRIEST, but this live show along with the band's two albums demonstrate, without doubt, that KK Downing got it right in not going down quietly, and in thinking that he could put together a band that would rival that of his old bandmates, while also preserving his own contribution and legacy to PRIEST - whether it be via JUDAS PRIEST or KK'S PRIEST. In short, this gig was an auspicious, enthralling, and euphoric beginning to KK Downing's latest schedule of "sermons" demonstrating the classic heavy metal sound and performance ethos. As such, as the tour moves onward, it is bound to make many people happy, all in the name of Heavy Metal, just as the band would want it to.

Openers BURNING WITCHES, the Swiss all-female band fronted by Laura Guldemond, were absolutely solid and commanding in stage presence, while second act, the renowned L.A. GUNS, entertained in the with the piratical, power rock swagger that continues to impress.

Check some more photos from the show!
Photos By Shelly Harris


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