With Queensrÿche celebrating 42 years in the business and Judas Priest returning to their much delayed 50 Heavy Metal Years tour, the Prudential Center, New Jersey, played host to the best tour on the road at this moment.
Judas Priest, Queensrÿche
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ, USA. 30 March 2022
Words and Photography: Jody Wilk
With the threat of Covid-19 seemingly diminishing, a return to live music is a godsend, and an expectant Newark crowd were treated to monster performances of Heavy Metal history.
Michael Wilton and Eddie Jackson are the only remaining members of that original Queensrÿche 1980 lineup. Still, Mike Stone, Todd La Torre and Casey Grillo are supremely talented additions, and it would be foolish to understate their importance in helping to drive the band forward.
That Queensrÿche chose to fill their set with songs from their first four albums, plus their debut self-titled 1983 EP, was a stroke of genius. The band opened with the Chris DeGarmo penned Queen Of The Reich before firing into Warning, the first track from their debut album and the scene was set for a powerful trip down memory lane.
La Torre delivers the lead vocals with great style, ably rising to the challenge of En Force and NM156. That Empire was the sole track played tonight, which was released after the ’80s, gives an indication of the historic beauty of tonight’s setlist.
The set closed with Screaming In Digital and Eyes Of A Stranger, leaving an enthusiastic crowd well and truly energised. It never gets old seeing Queensrÿche live. Having seen the band live over 15 times, I am always left pumped, waiting for the next show.
A one hour set of brilliance may not seem too long, but this 50-year-old might not have made it to the end of Judas Priest’s almost two-hour set if Queensrÿche had offered more.
While standing in the pit waiting for the main act to hit the stage, a huge replica of the Judas Priest cross hung above the stage, illuminated in red lights with the recorded deep voice billowing from the rafters reciting their Battle Hymn.
It has been a difficult period for Judas Priest. The 50 Year planned celebration was hit with Covid-19 delays, and guitarist Richie Faulkners ruptured aorta at the Louder Than Life Festival in Kentucky on 26 September 2021, which was a life-threatening worry for all.
So, as smoke began to emanate from the cross with white lights illuminating it and the band ripped into One Shot At Glory, there was a deep sense of joy that all were back on stage safe and sound.
Rob Halford had entered the stage facing the drum riser wearing a gold-studded leather jacket with the same Judas Priest cross on the back with long tassels and leather pants to match.
The impressive stage was set up to look like an old industrial factory with chemical barrels, brick walls and signs warning that people must wear personal protective equipment.
Richie Faulkner was often in the spotlight, showing off his killer talent and changing up his axes throughout the set. He is a real showman. Andy Sneap is on form, with the band’s “four-piece” statement best left forgotten. The longest-serving member, Ian Hill, is as solid as ever, and with Scott Travis pummelling the drums, the instrument side is supremely covered.
As for Halford’s vocals, all I can say is ‘wow’. He delivers such powerful screams and growling lows, and you cannot fail to be impressed how Rob, at 70 years old, was able to perform like he did for a full two-hour set.
Moving on through their set, there was a great mix spanning their career. Highlights included You’ve Got Another Thing Coming, Turbo Lover, Hell Patrol, Rocka Rolla and Blood Red Skies.
Leading the end of the set was The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown) and the iconic Diamonds And Rust. Drummer Scott Travis stood up and announced that this would be the last song asking what everyone wanted to hear. The fans replied with a roaring Painkiller.
After an hour and twenty minutes of adrenaline-filled Heavy Metal and a short break, the giant pitchfork illuminated once again, this time rotating between white, blue, green, and red. The white spotlights shone down from above and the band powered right into Electric Eye.
There was a giant eyeball on the screen behind the drummer looking side to side, along with satellites and video surveillance footage to go along with the song. The stage briefly went dark again, with Rob riding out on a Harley with the 50 Metal Years logo on the tank to sing Hell Bent For Leather.
Glenn Tipton came out to join the band for Metal Gods, Breaking the Law, and Living After Midnight. With his struggles with Parkinson’s disease well known, this was an enotional moment for all. The crowd had their fists pumping and were singing along to a fitting and memorable end.
Priest’s last album, Firepower, is the highest US charting album of their 50-year career. Can there be more to come?
This was one of the baddest rock ‘n’ roll shows I’ve seen all year. Powerful is an understatement, and the Priest pairing with Queensrÿche was a genius move.
Priest plays Mashantucket on 2 April and Lowell on 4 April before heading to Canada for four dates. They then head to Europe for the summer. Bring your kids to this show if you want them to see what Heavy Metal is all about.
Queen of the Reich
Walk in the Shadows
The Needle Lies
Take Hold of the Flame
Screaming in Digital
Eyes of a Stranger
One Shot at Glory
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
A Touch of Evil
Victim of Changes
Blood Red Skies
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)
Diamonds & Rust
Hell Bent for Leather
With Glen Tipton
Breaking The Law
Living After Midnight