Legions of Judas Priest fans dressed in denim and leather arrived at the Mohegan Sun Arena anticipating more than just a heavy metal concert.
The self-proclaimed "Bashers from Birmingham" have always fashioned themselves as more than just a rock band, belting out "Screaming sermons from the pulpit of Rock and Roll... generating the kind of hysteria reminiscent of the most fervent revival meetings," since the '70s.
Things have changed dramatically for the band this year, with guitarist Glenn Tipton revealing in February that he was dealing with Parkinson's disease. He is a big part of their newest album, FIREPOWER, but he has stepped away from the full-time touring lineup. Taking his place on stage has been Andy Snead, who has a long history as a guitar player, songwriter, and producer, which includes a co-producer credit on FIREPOWER with Tom Allom.
Since the FIREPOWER LP was released on March 9, it has received scorchingly positive reviews. It has also made history for the band, becoming the highest charting record of the their career in the USA, and highest charting record in the UK since British Steel in 1980.
Rob Halford — iconic frontman and Metal God — and bassist Ian Hill have been with Judas Priest since the early days. The group's other musicians are Scott Travis, the band's 5th drummer since their 1974 debut album Rocka Rolla and only drummer since 1989, and Richie Faulkner, who replaced original guitarist K. K. Downing in 2011.
On this evening, Priest played three tunes from the new album, starting with "Firepower" and later mixing "Lightning Strike" and "Evil Never Dies" into a 16-song set filled with classic material. One special highlight was "Saints In Hell," a deep cut from the 1978 Stained Class album being played for the first time on tour since it came out 40 years ago, and with a custom visual to boot.
Another special moment was when Glenn Tipton came out and played guitar during the encore. The crowd chanted “Tipton” and let their appreciation be known for the final three songs. (See the full setlist underneath the photos below.)
Having personally seen Judas Priest 10 times over the past 38 years, I can say that the band is as powerful now as it has ever been. Halford's voice is still great, and he is still a commanding frontman who knows how to whip a crowd into a frenzy.
Fans who had been following Priest to see multiple concerts on this run of Northeastern shows were also raving about the band's recent performances. With enough forward momentum, Priest looks to be “delivering the goods” for some time. The band will continue the North American tour until May, and then head to Europe for concerts scheduled from June to August.
For concert tickets, reviews, and more, check out Judas Priest's Zumic artist page.