Monday, April 22, 2024

A review of Judas Priest, April 19 Newark NJ

Scott (of Scott's Thoughts) and
I waiting for the metal madness.
I love heavy metal culture, unapologetically.

These days it’s not quite the same as heavy metal parking lot. Fans are generally older (though they hail from all age ranges). There is less innocence, perhaps more conformity to codes. 

But, the enthusiasm and joy remains.

If you watched a mosh pit as an outsider without any knowledge you’d think you were witnessing some wild fight, and expect cops in riot gear to come and break it up. Moshing looks like a fight—arms flailing, bodies contacting one another, often hard, sometimes resulting in falls on cement, bruises and a little blood. 

A closer look reveals no intent to injure. Just people “dancing” in an odd, flailing sort of way, out of sheer love of heavy music and all the emotions it draws forth.

It’s a weird, quirky, and lovely phenomenon.

Just like being a Judas Priest fan. Loving a 50 year old metal band with a 72-year-old lead singer is not going to get you into the same social circles as Taylor Swift. But I doubt Swifties have any more fun.

Judas Priest on April 19, 2024 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ had the feel of a spontaneous celebration, from a post-concert mosh pit (see below) to the concert itself.

I had an absolute blast.

The band sounded phenomenal. I knew they would, musically. It’s hard not to when you’ve got a killer rhythm section (Ian Hill and Scott Travis) and one of metal’s brightest guitarists in Richie Faulkner. What was surprising was Rob. 

Halford killed it, vocally. 

Today he uses some sort of voice extender that carries his notes and provides an echo effect, strengthening what he’s got. But it’s still obviously him singing. And damn, he can still do it. Rob moves around slowly, has to bend nearly in half to hit the high notes in the likes of Painkiller. But he can still do it. 


Panic Attack
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Rapid Fire
Breaking the Law
Lightning Strike
Love Bites
Devil’s Child
Saints in Hell
Crown of Horns
Turbo Lover
Invincible Shield
Victim of Changes
The Green Manalishi
Electric Eye
Hell Bent for Leather
Living After Midnight

So many highlights, too many to mention, but here’s a few.

“Crown of Horns.” I enjoyed this new song off Invincible Shield from the first I heard it, but it was killer in concert. It’s a raw and soulful, weighty but ultimately hopeful song, rife with religious imagery (haven’t really talked about that aspect of Invincible Shield), defending the metal faith, and gratitude for life. Someone recorded it here; while I ordinarily hate cell phone recordings (the sound qualify is almost universally tinny and flat, and even a good recording fails to capture the loudness and atmosphere) this one is pretty good. 

Halford coming out on his motorbike for Hell Bent for Leather. You might think you're cool, but you’ll never be Rob Halford revving a Harley Davidson on stage at a heavy metal concert level of cool.

Love Bites and Devil’s Child back-to-back. Love both of these songs, and they were done well. The Nosferatu footage for the former added to the atmosphere.

The Green Manalishi (With the two Pronged Crown). I’ve always loved Priest’s rendition of this Fleetwood Mac song. No one remembers it’s a cover because Priest owns it, so hard. They did again this night. I was singing along very lustily.

The unexpected song disorder. I thought I was mishearing something when Priest launched into “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” as the followup to set opener “Panic Attack” (which I did expect, and was awesome). Typically “Another Thing” is the closer or at least encore material. “The Hellion/Electric Eye” is the best metal opener of all time and Priest didn’t waste that impact, saving it to open the encore.

Opening act Sabaton. These guys were very good—I entered knowing almost nothing about them, and left willing to give them a concerted listen. What stood out most was their harmonic vocals, like old Viking chants set to heavy metal guitars. The drummer sat on top of a giant tank armed with a pair of gatling guns. Despite singing about war and death exclusively they were having fun and didn’t take themselves too seriously, which I appreciated. At one point the singer slipped while running across stage and fell flat on his back, but sung a couple lines from the prone position. A little Spinal Tap.

Way more people in attendance than I anticipated. Sure, a couple of the topmost sections were curtained off, but the place was probably 85-90% full. 16,755 is the listed capacity of the Prudential Center, so there had to have been 13-14,000K in attendance. Amazing for JP, I thought those days were behind them. Among the crowd was an all-time record number of metal gear wearers—denim vests with quilts of backpatches, studded leather vests and wristbands. Chicks in black leather miniskirts and tall boots and black eyeshadow. It was glorious.

Damn this was good...
but probably not $18.25 good. 
A cold 25 oz Stella.
Giant beers rock, though at $18.25(!) one was enough for my wallet.

The mosh pit after the concert, outside on the sidewalk of the Prudential Center. It started when an enterprising street performer set up shop with a small drumkit and a couple speakers. Exiting the arena we heard “Aces High,” and as we drew closer saw a ring of concert-goers watching this guy pound out a very credible Nicko McBrain, with all the Maiden music minus the drum track emanating from the speaker. And then people started moshing, most notably an incredibly drunk dude wearing full Rob Halford getup circa 1979’s “Unleashed in the East,” complete with jaunty cap and studded leather vest. He was knocked to the ground a few times but kept getting up. I’m quite sure he and some other middle-aged dudes felt it the next day.  But on this night, no pain.


M. Schnau said...

I am terribly jealous! Saw my first Judas Priest concert in 1981 in the Ostseehalle in Kiel and the concert - as part of the World Wide Blitz Tour - was a party. First Saxon, who were actually planned as the support act, but were then treated as equals and played a full set. Then Judas Priest and the hall, already fired up by Saxon, collectively went crazy.

Brian Murphy said...

Wow... that's a great double bill and a great time in Priest's career to have seen them! My first Priest show was 1991, Painkiller tour.