Judas Priest w/ Queensrÿche | November 7, 2022 | Toyota Arena | Ontario, CA – Concert Review & Photo Gallery

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Review & photos by Junkman

“It’s yours. This feels so great. That’s what the heavy metal community is all about. They love each other,” Judas Priest singer Rob Halford said, clearly touched by being recently inducted, along with his bandmates, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as he proudly held his induction trophy aloft to a screaming, sold-out crowd. It was a night to celebrate for Judas Priest. Fifty years of rocking their signature brand of heavy metal, and receiving accolades of the highest honor, continued with their first show since being inducted into the hall earlier in the week.

The Toyota Arena in Ontario was the scene for a night of “Hot Rockin’” as Judas Priest gave their fans a full dose of their crushing brand of metal. A huge, lighted “Devils Tuning Fork” Judas Priest logo, arose from a stage that was decorated to look like a British “Metalworks” factory, complete with brick smokestack that had “Metal Works” painted on it.  Various “Danger Corrosive” signs adorned the tanks and barrels scattered about the background, along with electrical shutoff switches and many other pieces. Stagehands all wore matching blue coveralls which gave one the feeling of being employed in the warehouse of a typical Birmingham, England foundry.

The stage setup became a bit of an afterthought as Judas Priest arrived with “Hellion/Electric Eye” from their hit Screaming For Vengeance LP from 1982. They then proceeded to pound their faithful with an 18-song set of material from throughout their long and illustrious career. Plenty of flashing lights accompanied them and shined like flares off the studs of singer Halford’s many custom long leather coats that he changed between nearly every song. Plenty of classic material was chosen during Priest’s time onstage. “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” a HUGE hit, also from Screaming For Vengeance had the crowd pumping their fists like maniacs, and yes, screaming.

The title track from their latest Firepower album was well received and featured a video backdrop of a flying robotic bird. Guitarists Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap, adorned either side of the stage, and took turns playing blazing lead solos and crunchy, chugging chords on their bright Gibson guitars, as is the Judas Priest tradition. Bassist Ian Hill, anchored the back part of the stage, was smiling throughout the show, no doubt still thrilled about the induction into the hallowed hall, as he normally sports a menacing stare. Drummer Scott Travis is always literally emotionless, as he pounds out solid beats like a metronome, all night long.

Rob Halford, meanwhile, continuously stalks the stage like a caged animal, clutching his microphone with both hands, and releases his blood-curdling screams on songs like “Jawbreaker” and 1978’s “Beyond The Realms of Death.” During “Halls of Valhalla” Halford really showed off his vocal range, going from a low growl to a soaring high-pitched wail in a matter of moments. This is not easy. Especially for a 71-year-old man who has been doing it for over 50 years. This is the reason he has become known to all as “The Metal God.”

The two newest JP band members, Faulkner and Sneap, supplied the fans with plenty of “Firepower” indeed. After the departure of longtime guitarists KK Downing and Glenn Tipton a few years ago, these two have picked right up where the others left off and deserve props. It is not an easy task to replace longtime members of a band of this status. As far as their fans are concerned, I believe there are those that will always consider them as “replacement players” as that is usually the case with so-called “classic rock aficionados.” But musically, Faulkner and Sneap (who also produces the band) have the chops to keep this train rolling. Sneap, cranking out sonic blasts all evening, busted out a weathered Fender Stratocaster to nail the “hammer-on” solo’s during “Between The Hammer And The Anvil” was a case in point.

Richie Faulkner, besides playing note-for note on the older songs and supplying his own riffs to newer material from Firepower just has the LOOK of a rock star. His long blonde hair, and leather stage clothes, and Gibson “Flying V” guitar slung just right, give one the image of the classic metal guitarist. He is a fantastic player, and has totally re-energized this band from a time a few years ago, when things were not looking too good for Judas Priest.

Halford addressed the crowd and held up his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Trophy for all to see and thanked them for their support and love. He then launched the band into their classic version of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown).”  Drummer Scott Travis, not normally known to speak on the microphone, acknowledged the crowd from behind his kit, and thanked them for being a great audience, bringing a roar from the crowd, especially when he mentioned that they were in Ontario. That led into the set-closing rocker “Screaming for Vengeance” that brought the crowd to an insane level, with its double kick drum tempo and wicked, blasting guitar pace, that went along perfectly with Halfords primal screaming.

After briefly leaving the stage to a thunderous applause, the sounds of a loud motorcycle blasted over the PA system. Rob Halford then appeared onstage riding a Harley Davidson, sporting a leather hat and riding crop. The band joined, him onstage and cranked out a blistering version of “Hell Bent For Leather” while Halford stayed aboard the bike and sang. He punctuated his vocals with the riding crop like a conductor does with a baton.

The band segued into “Breaking The Law,” their classic anthem of aggression, as a video montage of rowdy, British street riots showed in the background. As always, Halford joined guitarists Faulkner and Sneap center stage and performed their choreographed side-to-side jerking moves to emphasize the breakdown of the number towards the end of the song. It has become a Judas Priest tradition and is always fun to look forward to for the fans, many of them joining their heroes by imitating the orchestrated maneuver in the aisles.

The band then pleased their fans, with the set-closing “Living After Midnight” which, arguably, is their most popular song. The solid drumbeat and crushing power chords bring to mind cruising in Camaros and Mustangs in the 1980s with this song blaring out of the sound system while headed to Anytown USA’s “Heavy Metal Parking Lot.” A strange thing happened during the song. A giant, snarling bull, complete with glowing red eyes, appeared onstage.  It was a bit of a distraction, but it was interesting to say the least. I’m not sure what the connection was to the song, but the band cranked the volume and gave their audience what it had come to hear-fist pumping, classic British metal, by the long-time kings of the genre.

“WE ARE JUDAS PRIEST!” shouted Halford at the song’s end. He then took a seat on the motorcycle, still onstage, took a deep breath, then joined his bandmates on the stage’s edge and lovingly gazed at his standing, cheering crowd, as his mates showered their fans with guitar pics and the occasional drumstick tossed into the mass. The classic Queen anthem “We Are The Champions” serenaded the band and fans over the PA system as they left the stage, and headed out into the rainy evening. It was indeed, a night of celebration for Judas Priest and fans alike.

Queensrÿche, with their brand of progressive metal, were the perfect band to get the evening started. This Seattle band has been through many lineup changes over the years, most notably singer Todd La Torre, who, after taking over for original operatic singer Geoff Tate a number of years ago, has done a fine job in helping resurrecting the Queensrÿche brand. After the house lights dimmed, and the PA system cranked up the classic Pantera stomper “Walk,” La Torre and company performed an hour long set from their expansive catalog of music.

The one-two punch of “Queen Of The Reich” from their debut EP and “Warning” from their first full length LP The Warning from 1984, got the long-time fans attention to open the set. Original QR guitarist Michael “Whip” Wilton and bassist Eddie Jackson were all business, scowling as they laid down their prospective parts note-for- note. The latest members of Queensrÿche, guitarist Mike Stone and drummer Casey Grillo shined throughout, and the band even played a brand-new number, “Behind the Walls” mid-set, that went over well with the still arriving crowd.

Again, their opening slot did not give them time to perform many of their more popular numbers, but they did manage to fit in some QR classics such as “Empire” and “Eyes of a Stranger” that Todd La Torre brought to new heights with his outstanding vocals. Queensrÿche closed their brief set with “Anarchy- X” from the bands wonderful Operation Mindcrime LP from 1988. It was a great way to get the night started, and the anticipation in the crowd was buzzing for what was still in store for them. I guess that is what one would expect from a quality opening act, if I’m not mistaken. It was a great night for metal in the “Inland Empire” of Southern California.

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