March 20, 2018 Judas Priest Fire Up Long Island, NY 3-17-18 w/ Saxon & Black Star Riders
The iron-fisted Judas Priest are back! On the road for the first time since December of 2015, the most unrelenting force in Heavy Metal, Judas Priest, march into cities across the Unites States and Europe on the Firepower Tour. A billing that includes the mighty Saxon and Black Star Riders, the Firepower Tour is an experience essential for true fans of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. Prior to starting the Firepower Tour, on March 9, 2018, Judas Priest released the incinerating new album, Firepower, and upon entering week one on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 Charts, Firepower made history debuting at No. 5 – Judas Priest’s highest charting position ever in the United States.
As most Judas Priest fans have heard the news, on February 12, 2018, founding Guitarist Glenn Tipton revealed his fight with Parkinson’s Disease over the past ten years, and due to recent complications with the disease, though Tipton can still write and record, he is unable to tour. Covering for Tipton on the Firepower Tour, Firepower Producer, and veteran Guitarist, Andy Sneap steps in alongside Rob Halford (vocals), Richie Faulkner (guitar), Ian Hill (bass), and Scott Travis (drums) to perform with Judas Priest throughout the duration of the tour.
In the minds of fans, this begged the question; what does the future hold for Tipton and Judas Priest? For Tipton, Judas Priest is family and leaving the band is simply out of the question. On March 14, 2018, the brilliant Guitarist released a personal message explaining his battle with the disease, expressing his gratitude for the outpouring of emotional support from fans and fellow artists, and with respect to Sneap, Tipton commented: “He’s a great guy and I’m sure he’ll do a great job – I’m sure the band will be as strong as ever.” Though for now Tipton’s role in Judas Priest has changed, however, he remains optimistic about the future.
All this in mind, Judas Priest, kicked-off The Firepower Tour on March 13, 2018 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17, 2018, the beloved Irish holiday went Metal as one of the years most anticipated tours ascended into Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Unreserved, over the top Judas Priest fans witnessed a night of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal ecstasy the way it is meant to be – loud and fast.
First to rock the stage, and proudly celebrating their Irish roots on this St. Patrick’s Day, Black Star Riders – Ricky Warwick (lead vocals/guitar), Scott Gorham (guitar), Damon Johnson (guitar), Robbie Crane (bass), and Chad Szeliga (drums) – arrived on stage brimming with all the energy and excitement of true Rock-n-Roll heroes.
For those who are still foggy on who Black Star Riders are, in late 2012 the band was born out of, from what at the time was, the current lineup of Thin Lizzy. Looking to preserve the legacy of Thin Lizzy just the way it is, when the band recorded new music, they chose to release it under the name Black Star Riders. After a successful debut album, 2013’s All Hell Breaks Loose, Black Star Riders became a hot commodity among Hard Rock fans especially on the touring circuit playing sets featuring original music as well as all the classic Thin Lizzy cuts. Following the release of 2015’s The Killer Instinct, Black Star Riders kept flying high as the band captured the opening slot for Def Leppard and Whitesnake.
Just over a year since releasing their third studio album, 2017’s Heavy Fire, Black Star Riders opened their set at Nassau Coliseum with “All Hell Breaks Loose” followed by the dangerous grooves of Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak.” Rockin’ the place and engaging the audience, “Heavy Fire,” “When The Night Comes In,” “Kingdom,” and the spirited “Bound For Glory” found Black Star Riders at their best. Lastly, Black Star Riders closed their St. Patrick’s Day set via the apropos “Whiskey in the Jar,” leaving the crowd fearlessly warmed-up.
Taking over the stage next, supporting their latest effort, 2018’s Thunderbolt, New Wave of British Heavy Metal champions, Saxon were ready to go. Consisting of Biff Byford (vocals), Paul Quinn (guitar), Nigel Glockler (drums), Nibbs Carter (bass), and Doug Scarratt (guitar), they stormed in and crushed the arena with a blistering set of gripping Heavy Metal riffs. Immediately capturing the crowd with their new album’s title-track, “Thunderbolt,” the classic “Power and Glory” followed, as Saxon were off to a fine start.
Feasting over recent triumphs, Byford announced Saxon’s new album Thunderbolt is the band’s biggest selling album in the United States since the early 1980s – a true testament to the staying power of Heavy Metal. Following this, the evil “Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)” was pleasing to fans of the new LP before “Motorcycle Man” and “The Secret of Flight” raised the excitement of the crowd even more. A highlight of the set, the unbridled dominance of “Dallas 1 PM” really emersed the enthusiastic crowd who grew louder before Byford told the story behind the next tune, “They Played Rock and Roll,” a tribute to Motörhead.
Tirelessly, Saxon continued to rock hard with “Crusader” and “Princess of the Night” before ending their set in epic fashion with “Denim and Leather.” Earlier in the night, Byford proclaimed this to be the biggest show Saxon has ever played in New York, and after an hour of watching the band head bang and rip it up on stage, many in the crowd certainly felt it was their best. As direct support, Saxon did an astounding job firing up the audience and leaving their own lasting impression.
As the momentous occasion drew near, the crowd was walking on air with pure excitement and good spirits as a curtain of apocalyptic design was draped in front of the stage. For fans who have attended a Judas Priest concert, you know the one song played over the P.A. right before the lights come down is Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” and as the first notes rang, the crowd went into a frenzy. Soon after, the lights went out, and as the curtain fell to the ground, a massive roar welcomed Judas Priest back to Long Island for the first time since they played two sold out shows at The Paramount Theater down in Huntington Village back in November of 2015.
A prophetic presence, the Metal Gods opened the show with the striking new licks of “Firepower,” and with the devil horns up, the crowd chanted the words as loud as Halford himself. A set bridging some of the deeper numbers in the Judas Priest catalog, “Running Wild,” “Grinder,” “Sinner,” and “The Ripper” were perfect pieces to not only begin a fierce night of Metal, but to show off Halford’s superb and ageless vocals.
Tearing into eardrums, Judas Priest were alive as ever, ripping through performances of “Bloodstone” and new cut “Lightning Strike.” Among a setlist of surprises, Judas Priest floored the crowd via an amazing version of 1978’s “Saints in Hell,” a track the band has never played live before the Firepower Tour. Always a crowd pleaser, “Turbo Lover” drove energy into the air before the tranquil “Angel” sent the room into a mind-bending trip. Unearthing more Firepower, the awesome “Evil Never Dies” rattled the crowd who then ate up another rare live cut, “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll.”
Next, Halford asked, “Breaking the what?,” the synonymous introduction to “Breaking the Law.” The sounds of a motorcycle revving filled the arena as Halford rode his bike on stage for “Hell Bent for Leather.” An exciting moment, thereafter, Travis had a question of his own, asking the crowd what song they wanted to hear, and subsequently the crowd screamed “Painkiller” to which the drummer launched into a powerful drum intro.
Already a blistering set, without warning, Judas Priest lit up the house with “The Hellion/Electric Eye” before the theme “Metal Gods.” Skyrocketing, Faulkner began messing around on some riffs that led into a live jam of a daring “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ .” With that, the Heavy Metal party anthem, “Living After Midnight,” closed out the Long Island stop for the Firepower Tour, leaving everyone riding high. Walking off stage, Judas Priest were graced with an immense ovation of cheers and devil horns to cap off a tremendous night with Hard Rock and Heavy Metal’s finest.
To no surprise, Judas Priest were at absolute peak performance as the Metal Gods commanded the stage and delivered timeless Heavy Metal anthems that only left the crowd wanting more. Judas Priest’s Firepower Tour continues in the United States until May 1, 2018, before heading to Mexico, and then Europe until mid-August. A hot ticket worthy of being named tour of the year, get out and see Judas Priest do what they do best, bring the best Heavy Metal show on earth!
Photo credit: Andrew Fiero Photography