The Metal Files

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Judas Priest, Saxon & Black Star Riders, San Antonio, TX, May 1, 2018

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While I’m a pretty big Priest fan and was fortunate enough to have been introduced to their music by an older brother in the late 70s, I didn’t see them until 1998 on the Jugulator tour. The only times with Halford have been since 2014.  With them getting a lot older and probably not touring much after this current Firepower tour, I figured I’d go one last time and make it count.  I got in on the presale and scored 7th row center seats which was a good spot.  Ten minutes later I get a message from a friend in Nashville whose close friends with a ticket broker in LA that had front row seats.  I asked how much over face value.  $25 more.  DONE.  I sold my 7th row seats to a friend and Victor and I were set for front row.

Day of show, we all meet at a friend’s house outside of San Antonio and roll down together to the older and smallish venue Freeman Coliseum. Walking the inner ring we see tons of friends and everyone is excited for the show, which I read this morning ended up selling out.

Opening the show was Black Star Riders which features Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy. They played a solid set and a second Thin Lizzy song would have been welcome but oh well.  We were stage right and Gorham never left his spot on stage left, but they were good.  Cool seeing Robbie Crane and Damon Johnson again.

How do my friends here in Texas know that I’m not from Texas? When I mention that I’m not a Saxon fan, that’s how.  Texas LOVES Saxon, especially San Antonio thanks to former DJ Joe Anthony who basically gave Saxon their first break in the US.  Saxon started 10 minutes earlier than scheduled to squeeze in a couple of extra songs.  While I only like a handful of Saxon songs, they are a good live band.  In general though, the band never clicked with me.  I enjoyed them enough and they closed with my favorite, Princess of the Night.  Saxon made no bones about how much they love San Antonio and San Antonio showed their love for Saxon.

But I was there for Priest. The last two times I saw them, Rob sounded pretty good but wasn’t very mobile.  Glenn was still playing with them the other two times.  Last night, however, it was Andy Sneap who played in Sabbat (UK), a band I love.  Both he and Faulkner are fine musicians, but there’s no replacing KK and Glenn.  Make no mistake, Faulkner makes his presence known in the band stalking the front of the stage the whole show.  Andy stayed stage left and didn’t move around much but played his ass off.  Ian hung in the back like he’s always done and laid down his solid JP bass lines perfectly.  Scott Travis looked bored, but he has that look in general, always has.  You know what you’re going to get with Scott behind the drums.  Solid player, a bit robotic, mistake free.

And then there was Halford. Tall.  Dressed in silver and black.  Sunglasses.  Trenchcoat.  Gloves.  Hunched over the center stage monitor for the first song, Firepower, from the new album.  Then they went into Running Wild and he started stalking the stage.  He pretty much did that for the rest of the show.  The glasses were off, he was engaging the crowd, had several coat changes, but was really just owning that stage and the crowd at the same time.  They pretty much played the same exact set as they had for the whole tour and then right after Some Heads Are Gonna Roll (one of my all-time faves), Rob starts talking about Joe Anthony and how much San Antonio means to the band.  SA was once the metal capital of the USA and broke so many bands thanks to Mr. Anthony.  And then Rob says, “We’re going to play a song that we haven’t done live in 37 years from the Sad Wings album and we’re doing it just for San Antonio…This is Tyrant!” (paraphrased).  Holy hell.  You could tell the band hadn’t played it in a while as it was way more loose than any other song that night.  Even with Rob missing a vocal cue and Scott botching a drum part, it was pretty phenomenal and I am glad to have witnessed it.  (Fact:  it has only been 35 years since they plast played it live according to  Overall, Rob sounded better than the other 2 times I had seen JP live.  His voice was just great, especially in Saint in Hell.  Some Heads gave him a little trouble, but that’s a tough song in general.  No complaints at all.  Rob was awesome.  It was also awesome being able to watch Rob sing the fast, multi-lyric parts in Freewheel Burning.  He didn’t “David Lee Roth” them at all!

Priest was pretty much on fire the whole night. The Harley came out for Hell Bent for Leather and they closed the set with Painkiller.  Still not a fan of that song or album. The only noticeable difference in most of the songs throughout the night was that they were played just a tad slow.  Painkiller seemed to crawl but I’m sure it just has to do with them keeping a good pace for Rob to stay in.  No bother.

Then the encore. Glenn had been playing the encore for selected shows throughout the tour and for the recent Texas dates, so no surprise he was there last night for the finale of this leg of the tour.  While it was special to see him, it was also a little heartbreaking.  You could surely see that he was not in great shape, but you could also see that his spirits were high.  Not a lot of moving around for him but he played solidly and nailed his solos.  He played Metal Gods, Breaking the Law and Living After Midnight.  The crowd was ecstatic and Rob stayed near him for much of the encore.  After all, Rob, Glenn and Ian have been playing together longer than many of those reading this have been alive.  Lots of history.  At the very end, the band was throwing picks and sticks to the crowd and Ian tossed one my way.

It was a fantastic night filled with great music and good friends. Long live Priest.

Judas Priest Setlist
Saxon Setlist
Black Star Riders Setlist



Written by The Metal Files

May 2, 2018 at 10:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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