November 19, 2015 Judas Priest Rise At The Paramount Huntington, NY 11-5-15 w/ Mastodon
Legend is a word used to describe people who have done extraordinary things. The world of Metal music has a long and varied history. There are few constants in this world, and even fewer with the power and legacy of Judas Priest. Since their inception in Birmingham England, in 1970, Judas Priest has been breaking ground, and setting the pace for Metal. To date, they have sold over forty-five million albums worldwide. Now, an incredible forty-five years later, they are on tour once again in 2015. Touring in support of 2014 album Redeemer of Souls, Judas Priest made their rounds across the country throughout the year and recently rounded up a stellar string of Fall dates with support from Mastodon.
Having recorded seventeen studio albums over their career, Redeemer of Souls landed at number six on the Billboard US two hundred chart. Their first top 10 album debut in the US, this latest leg of touring began on October 16th in Paso Robles, California and ended up in Toronto, Canada at the Air Canada Center on November 12th. While commonly Judas Priest always stops in and around the New York City area, seldom does anything east of The Big Apple ever see any action. Although, that changed when it was announced they would be playing not one but two nights out in Huntington Village on Long Island, November 5th and 6th, at The Paramount. A very exciting treat indeed, the Metal Gods arrived Thursday the 5th to a venue ready to Rock -n- Roll.
Atlanta, Georgians Mastodon started things off with two tracks from the 2014 album entitled Once More ‘Round the Sun. First was “Tread Lightly,” voiced by Bassist Troy Sanders, who stood center stage, and backed up by Drummer Brann Dailor. Those whom are not aware yet, Mastodon has the distinction of three strong vocalists in their arsenal, and all with different styles. That is clearly highlighted on their latest record, as evidenced by the title track “Once More Round the Sun” where Guitarist Brent Hinds sings lead on, with Sanders coming in on the chorus. This brought a more melodic style of Hard Rock to the tour with catchy hooks and slick harmonies on top of heavy grooves. The high energy “Blasteroid” featured some of those slick harmonies and comes from the 2011 album The Hunter. Then, Dailor took the spotlight and sang lead vocals on “The Motherload,” showing his versatility and vocal range while playing complex rhythms and fills on the drums. They followed that with the haunting “Chimes at Midnight,” which began with a hypnotic melody before taking off into a high-powered Heavy Metal epic.
Keeping the adrenaline pumping, next came “High Road.” It is the Grammy nominated first single from Once More ‘Round the Sun that has a very catchy hook and some great vocals running through a thick grimy guitar riff. Next was a trip back to Mastodon’s heavier past with “Aquadementia,” from 2004’s Leviathan, which brought everyone back to a more aggressive time. “Halloween,” another from their latest, had the crowd singing along before “Bladecatcher” from 2006’s Blood Mountain, and “Black Tongue,” the first single from 2011’s The Hunter, elicited fists and shouts from the crowd.
Sanders addressed the mass and talked about the seemingly divided audience. He expressed his appreciation for the dedicated Mastodon fans in the crowd singing along and united them to join in for more as chugged through another from the new album, “Ember City,” into “Crystal Skull,” also from Blood Mountain. Then, just like that, “Blood and Thunder” closed out the thirteen song set in thunderous fashion. At the end, Dailor emerged from behind his drums to tell the crowd, while tossing drumsticks to them, how honored they were to share the stage with Judas Priest, and how much they appreciated the crowd and the opportunity. While Mastodon’s touring in North America is completed for 2015, they will be playing in Iceland on December 5th, and fans hope to see them on the road again in 2016.
With the floor packed with Metal fans of all ages, including teenagers; who may have discovered the mighty Judas Priest by dusting off some of dad’s old LPs and giving them a spin. Amped up and ready for the Judas Priest experience, Black Sabbath oozed out of the sound system and grabbed all in attendance making them sing “War Pigs” in full voice. The air was thick with anticipation as they neared the end of the song with Guitarists Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner, Bassist Ian Hill, along with Drummer Scott Travis beginning after the “Battle Cry” intro played in the dark. The crowd erupted at the sight of them as they went into 2014’s “Dragonaut” and a giant Metal dragon appeared behind the band on the huge screens.
Hill held down stage right next to Tipton and soon the voice of Rob Halford could be heard. The crowd scanned the stage to no avail, and moments later Halford appeared from the shadows in a long black leather coat; studded and chained, sunglasses, and a Metal as Fuck studded walking stick. The walking stick, the kind one would unsheathe a sword from, was not a necessity, more a statement, as the scepter of a king; a sign of sovereignty, in Halford’s case, divinity. Bald and goateed, Halford delivered like only he can; powerful, rangy, and, at times, piercing vocals. When it was over, Halford stood, head back, slight grin, and took in the deafening roar. He stood motionless until the band began “Metal Gods” from 1980’s British Steel as Halford laid down the scepter and gripped the mic with both gauntlet covered hands. Scowling, he sang and stomped forward and back, commanding all.
Halford then left the stage while Tipton and Faulkner, along with Hill and Travis, began “Dessert Plains” from 1981’s Point of Entry. Moments later, Halford reappeared wearing a denim vest with the words Metal God across the back. Faulkner ripped the lead on his custom Flying V and traded with Tipton and his Hamer phantom. Tipton, now playing his Hamer GT, joined Faulkner in beginning one of the band’s most epic songs, the eight minute behemoth, “Victim of Changes,” from 1976’s Sad Wings of Destiny. Arguably their most famous song and the most vocally challenging, Halford, now wearing just a long black shirt and leather pants, as though he needed to be more agile for the song, tore through it with ease. Faulkner, dressed in studded leather pants and vest stood on the edge of the stage and began newer song “Halls of Valhalla.” Returning once more, Halford wore a different long black leather coat as he paced the stage with Faulkner and Tipton playing a harmonic lead break together. This brought the band into a rare breakdown which gave us a taste of Halford’s guttural Death Metal vocal, another rarity and a stand out moment.
The band returned to 1980 and British Steel with “The Rage” introducing Hill and Travis to begin the song together. Halford left the stage once again and returned wearing a studded leather coat with heavy fringe and a red Chinese dragon on its back. From there, the band went into “Turbo Lover” from 1986’s Turbo. Mammoth gears turned and interlocked behind the band with Halford now clad in a silver leather coat. This point in the show marked a time in the band’s history which was a departure for Judas Priest, adding synth elements and themes of love. The crowd also emulated the time with a huge reaction, singing along to the mid ’80s hit. Once again, Tipton and Faulkner traded leads, showing a strong connection between the two.
Halford took a moment to talk to the crowd. He talked about the history of the band with so many songs and so many albums over the years. He said, “We like to cover all of the dynamics at a Priest show, so we are going to keep going with a heavy, heavy, Heavy Metal ballad from the infamous Stained Class album, and “Beyond The Realms of Death.” Infinite space and a dying earth appeared behind them as Halford nailed each note wearing a full length coat that sparkled every color. Travis was solid and complex on the drums, anchoring the ballad and adding thunderous fills throughout. A mix of amazing vocals, screaming guitars, and thunderous bass and drums, speed and feel “Beyond…” was a force. The heart pumping “Screaming for Vengeance” followed from the album of the same name as the record’s artwork appeared on the big screen, the Hellion also appeared on the back of Halford’s denim vest, frantic lyrics flashed across the huge screens throughout the song. When it was over, the image shifted to the iconic photo of a hand holding a giant razor blade from the album British Steel. Halford teased the crowd, yelling, “Breaking the what?” “Breaking the Law” had fists in the air and had all in attendance singing the words, and, later, the melody as they followed Halford into “you don’t know what it’s like” and beyond as Halford led the crowd vocally.
Cell phones were held high and people scrambled, trying to capture the next moment as the crowd heard the roar of a motorcycle off stage and through the house mains. Halford rode out, riding crop in his mouth, leather hat and sunglasses, and signaled the title track from 1979’s Hell Bent for Leather, Halford sang the entire song atop his bike. As the band left the stage, the applause and cheers only grew. The crowd displayed their appreciation for a great show, but Priest was not really finished. “The Hellion” began the first encore as the band returned as conquering heroes to the stage and slammed into “Electric Eye.” Halford appeared, “Made of Metal,” in a coat that looked like it was covered in chrome. Halford again led the crowd in song with a call and response that led to “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” from Screaming for Vengeance. Another one of their hits that had the faithful singing along, loudly. Faulkner delivered a blistering guitar solo backed by Travis providing a thumping pulse. The audience participation section of the song followed, with the faithful singing, “You got another thing coming,” each time the band stopped, leading into the crushing finale.
After the band left the stage, only Travis remained. He asked the crowd, “How about one more song ?” The crowd roared. He asked, “What song do you wanna hear?” The crowd roared, “Painkiller!” He began the song with the double bass drum fill that began the Scott Travis era of Judas Priest. The crowd erupted as the band furiously delivered “Painkiller.” Halford, adorned in a biker jacket with long, thick fringe falling from the sleeves, belted out note after piercing note until he fell to his knees in the center of the stage allowing the guitarists to trade ferocious shreds, building to a frenzied climax, ending with Travis rumbling through the final freight-train fill. The crowd expressed themselves, fully giving back to the band. Travis began a simple, but extremely recognizable, drum beat as the band closed the show with the comparatively tame “Living After Midnight,” another obvious fan favorite. Amazingly, after over three decades, the entire crowd would still sing the song word for word. After the deafening crescendo, the band left their instruments and greeted the fans at the front of the stage, handing out guitar picks, drumsticks, handshakes, and high fives to all within reach, thanking everybody they could for coming to see them. “The Beginning of the End” began to play as they exited the stage for the final time, a list of credits rolled on the large screens, paying tribute to all those who made the show possible.
All in all, Judas Priest was powerful and incredibly heavy. Not to be forgotten, Mastodon added a dimension to the show that made it a truly unique bill and a memorable experience for all who witnessed it. With that said, forty-five years after Judas Priest genesis, they played songs that are still hugely popular. Their catalog is filled with anthemic songs, and their fan base is still rabid and fiercely loyal. Halford has proven that he is still the one to beat as a Metal frontman; his voice as strong as his presence on the stage. The band played for an hour and a half and kept all eyes upon them. Halford spoke for the band and expressed their gratitude for all of the support over the years as well as thanked all of them for coming, but honestly, it should be the fans who are thankful to still have this once in a lifetime band still out there giving it their all, all these years later.