Judas Priest has been one of the most iconic Heavy Metal groups since the dawn of time. Priest rolled into Atlanta Georgia on Wednesday, May 8th 2019 to rock out The Fox Theatre. As fans gathered in the lobby of the Fabulous Fox, the sea of leather and teased hair grew thicker and thicker as the time drew near. The crowd was reminiscent of the late ’70s as life long fans and new metalheads shared in singing along to Black Sabbath’s War Pig as the stage went dark.
Richie Faulkner, Andy Sneap, Ian Hill, and Scott Travis took their positions on the stage as smoke began to build from behind a clouded barricade. Rob Halford was standing in position as the band made its way into Necromancer. The barricade opened and out steps Halford in his full priest costume as screams and cheers of disbelief echoed through the theatre of fans who have seen Judas Priest several times, but for many, it was a first.
The Evening was filled with everything a heavy metal fan needs in their life including several wardrobe changes from Halford. A sea of black leather, heavy unique vocals, guitar shredding, and loud drums. Judas Priest is the definition of Heavy Metal and Rock N Roll.
It is an absolute miracle that Halford has nearly his entire vocal. His high notes were pitch perfect and his ability to scale from a growl back to his high pitch vocals was bone chilling and impressive. With that said, it’s obvious that his age is showing. Being the last leg of the Firepower Tour, Halford showed minimal energy on stage. He tended to stay in one place when he wasn't pacing around the stage, but that is to be understood.
The savior of the show was newcomer Richie Faulkner. Faulkner joined the band in place of founding member K.K. Downing Jr. after he stepped down in 2011. Faulkner brought youthful energy and a considerable amount of rock n roll sex appeal to the performance. I am not sure what it is, but there is something incredibly sexy about a long-haired man ripping solos in a leather vest on a flying V guitar.
The youth portrayed by the two new members Faulkner and Tipton’s touring stand-in Andy Sneap brought youth and energy to the band. With this dynamic, the band will never run the risk of appearing as a washed-up group of old rockers. The vocals are there, the talent is there, and the energy is there.
Granted they come from a mix of people, the show curated a perfect balance of timelessness and youth. Halford took a moment between songs to recognize the amount of young “metalheads” that were present in the audience. He walked down the entire front row and fist-bumper nearly every single person in the front row as he preached to the crowd to “keep the heavy metal faith and keep metalheads alive! No surrender! Never give up! Never give in!” before going into “No Surrender”.
The show continued through a list of hits building up to a dynamite encore of all-time classic hits. As tradition goes, Halford rode his Harley out onto the stage for “Hell Bent for Leather”, followed by adorning himself in a sheriff’s hat for “Breaking the Law”, and finally closing out the set with “Living after Midnight”.
The evening was unforgettable and as the masses moved their way out of the building I couldn’t help but smile as nearly every tough looking, leather adorned, tattoo-covered, tough guy grinned and giggled as they talked about how “sick” the show was.
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