Judas Priest Redeemer of Souls World Tour, Air Canada Center, Toronto, Ontario, November 12, 2015.
Having last seen Judas Priest at the (outdoor) Sweden Rock Festival in June, I was looking forward to seeing the show in Toronto in an indoor setting. For this leg of the tour, Judas Priest were bringing along Mastodon as the opening act. This was the second time I had seen Mastodon in concert and personally I can’t say I enjoyed their set any more than the last time I saw them. So I would prefer to leave the review to someone better versed in their music. The two young men seated next to me seemed to be rocking out to the set so I asked them what they thought. “It was awesome,” they responded. So there you have it, the subjective nature of music at its best. They liked it, I didn’t. As we waited for the Judas Priest set to start the guys, who I found out were from Pittsburgh, PA, asked me if this was my first time seeing Judas Priest. When I told them my first time seeing the band was actually on the Screaming for Vengeance World Tour in 1982, they looked shocked and let me know they weren’t even born yet. Thanks for that guys.
As the first chords of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” rings out, the Air Canada Center crowd starts to make some noise because for the last few years this song signals the start of the Judas Priest show. It felt like everyone in the venue was singing along with Ozzy while waiting for “Battle Cry” and the band we all came to see appear. The show opens with “Dragonaut”, from Judas Priest’s 2014 release Redeemer of Souls. When we first see lead singer Rob Halford he is dressed in his metal finery with leather and chains and a walking stick. The concert gets off to a strong start with the “new” song followed by the classics “Metal Gods”, “Desert Plains” and “Victim of Changes”.
One of the things I like about a Judas Priest concert is there are no over the top pyrotechnic displays to distract from the music. The music is always showcased front and center – it is the show. Rob Halford is in my top three list of best metal vocalists of all time (Bruce Dickinson and a younger Geoff Tate being the other two) and at the age of 64 he is still on top of his game. Anyone who doubts this should have heard him sing “Screaming for Vengeance” and “Painkiller” on this night. It was mind blowing to the point where the people in my section were shaking their heads and muttering “Wow” after these songs. “Painkiller” was in the second encore and Halford still had enough voice left to make your eardrums bleed.
I’ve always found Halford’s stage presence interesting. Rather than fill the entire stage with his person, Halford almost appears to pace around the stage, sometimes in a circle and sometimes back and forth. The stage itself is rather simple on this tour with video screens showing album covers or short snippets of videos. After some of the over the top stage set ups I’ve seen lately (I’m thinking of you Motley Crue), it was refreshing to see a stripped down, no-nonsense show with nothing too flashy to detract from the songs. It was a great setlist with some of the newer tunes intermingled with the classics. I admit I did miss “Diamonds and Rust”.
After the show, I asked my two young friends what they thought of their first Judas Priest concert. “Incredible” and “worth the drive from Pittsburgh” were some of the comments. It’s great to see these guys, who are young enough to be my sons, having a chance to experience live Judas Priest. With the energy and intensity of the band displayed this night, I bet there will be many more shows in their future. A great night and a solid 4 out 5 stars.
War Pigs (Black Sabbath song)
Victim of Changes
Halls of Valhalla
Redeemer of Souls
Beyond the Realms of Death
Screaming for Vengeance
Breaking the Law
Hell Bent for Leather
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Living After Midnight
Beginning of the End