“The Priest is back!”

Photos & Review by Jeff MacRae
Citizen Chronicle Contributor

WORCESTER — The Metal Gods are at it once again and they made  a stop at the Palladium for a sold out show on Friday, March 23.

Judas Priest is out touring in support of their 18th album, “Firepower,” which was released March 9. The new album debuted as the highest charting album in their storied run, coming in at No. 5 on the Billboard 200. It surpassed the group’s previous chart high, when 2014’s “Redeemer of Souls” debuted and peaked at No. 6.

The Metal God Rod Halford from Judas Priest singing the song “Grinder” at the Worcester Palladium on March 23.

When Judas Priest took the stage the sold out crowd was more than ready. They opened the show with the Metal God Rob Halford sporting a leather jacket that had the name of the song and album “Firepower” emblazoned on the back  They were completely on fire right from the start and all the way through the show. Much to the crowd’s delight, Judas Priest played a 19-song setlist that included “Saints in Hell,” a track from the 1978 album “Stained Class” that had never been played live prior to their current tour. They also played a number of songs that haven’t been played live in many years, including “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll,” “Bloodstone,” and “Grinder.” In each case, the performances were met with total satisfaction from the crowd of metal maniacs.

The highlight of the night may have been the appearance of guitarist Glenn Tipton for the final three songs of the night while Halford amped up the crowd by bellowing out, “The Priest is back!”

Tipton revealed last month that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. While the diagnosis was made public on February 12, Tipton was first diagnosed in 2008. He has since ceased his touring duties with Judas Priest, but has stated he was still a member of the band and would not rule out future on-stage appearances.

For Judas Priest, their career has spanned nearly five decades and has featured numerous lineups over the years. Ian Hill is the lone original member still with the band since it’s start across the pond in England in 1969. The current lineup also features longtime member Rob Halford on vocals, Scott Travis on drums, and guitarists Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap. Travis has been banging on the drums for Judas Priest since 1989, Faulkner joined the band in 2011, and Sneap stepped in for Tipton earlier this year.

The setlist included Firepower, Running Wild, Grinder, Sinner, The Ripper, Lightning Strike, Bloodstone, Saints in Hell, Turbo Lover, The Green Manalishi, Evil Never Dies, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll, You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’, Hell Bent For Leather, Electric Eye, Painkiller, Metal Gods, Breaking the Law, and Living After Midnight.

Judas Priest continues its U.S. tour throughout the spring and will tour throughout Europe this summer.

Ricky Warwick of Black Star Riders singing Thin Lizzy’s famous hit “Jailbreak” at the Palladium.

The Black Star Riders opened the show, touring to support their new release, “Heavy Fire.” The Black Star Riders feature vocalist and guitarist Ricky Warwick, guitarist Scott Gorham, guitarist Damon Johnson, bassist Robert Crane, and drummer Chad Szeliga. Warwick is also the lead singer in the legendary Irish rock band Thin Lizzy, while Gorham is a founding member of the the group perhaps best known for their 1976 hit “The Boys Are Back In Town.” Johnson co-founded the Band Brother Cane in the 1990’s, Crane formerly played with the bands Ratt and Lynch Mob, and Szeliga previously played drums for Breaking Benjamin. The Black Star Riders opened the show with the energetic  “All Hell Breaks Loose” from their 2013 debut album and never let the energy down.

The Black Star Riders performed All Hell Breaks Loose, Jailbreak, Heavy Fire, Soldierstown, Killer Instinct, When the Night Comes In, Kingdom of the Lost, and Bound For Glory.

Also working the crowd before Judas Priest took the stage was British heavy metal band Saxon, currently on tour to support their latest release, “Thunderbolt.” Their lineup features Biff Byford on vocals, guitarist Paul Quinn, bass player Nibbs Carter, Doug Scarratt on guitar, and drummer Nigel Glockler. Saxon came to rock, kicking off with the title track from “Thunderbolt,” and did not disappoint. There were clearly a lot of Saxon fans on hand as they played through songs, going back through their 40-year career with the songs “Wheels of Steel” and “Denim and Leather,” each met with great applause and the crowd singing along. From blistering guitar solos, booming vocals, thunderous bass, and a drummer who never quits, there was never a dull moment as this band knows how to bring the energy.

Saxon’s setlist included Thunderbolt, This Town Rocks, The Secret of Flight, Motorcycle Man, Nosferatu, Dallas 1 p.m., They Played Rock & Roll, Denim and Leather, and Wheels of Steel.

Biff Byford of Saxon at the Palladium in Worcester acknowledging that “This Town Rocks.”

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