The Metal Gods Return to the New York

The Metal Gods Return to the New York
The "Metal Gods" Judas Priest took over the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey (4/19/2024)

Judas Priest has been known as the “Metal Gods” for forty years, with a fifty-year catalogue of iconic and heavily influential heavy metal classics spanning nearly twenty studio records. Sad Wings of Destiny and Stained Class were among the most influential metal albums of the 1970’s, perfecting the “twin guitar” attack that was a marvel for its time. They transitioned to more mainstream, straightforward metal for a period during the 1980’s before returning to an even heavier direction on most of their releases beginning with 1990’s seminal Painkiller. As Lindsay C. detailed in her album review, 2024’s Invincible Shield is an instant classic and on par with virtually every Priest record, including some of their most iconic and timeless recordings.

Judas Priest's Ritchie Faulker, Rob Halford, and Andy Sneap perform on April 19, 2024.

Priest embarked on the 2024 Invincible Shield World Tour to support one of the best metal releases in recent memory, stopping at Newark, New Jersey's Prudential Center to perform for the predominantly New York City and New Jersey audience. The band began the show with “Panic Attack”, a frenetic and powerful opener that illustrated the immense power of their most recent release and everlasting songwriting acumen.

Priest followed with “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”, a song routinely included in the encore for decades but most recently included earlier setlist songs. The band followed with a pair from the mainstream breakthrough British Steel, the opener “Rapid Fire” and all-time anthem “Breaking the Law.”

“Lightning Strike” from Firepower was next, with two of the band’s 80’s fan favorites “Love Bites” off Defenders of the Faith and “Devil’s Child” from Screaming for Vengeance being played thereafter. “Saints in Hell” from 1978's Stained Class had not been played until 2018 and returned to the setlist in 2024 as the eighth song of the evening. Then came the second Invincible track – “Crown of Horns” – which sounded even more powerful live than on the studio record. The rarely performed classic “Sinner” from Sin After Sin followed; this track was played sparingly during the past three decades, but returned to the setlist on leg 1 of the multi-year Firepower World Tour in 2018 and made its tour debut in Newark. As usual, the oft-played “Turbo Lover” was well received by the audience, despite it being a less aggressive and raucous song than most.

Judas Priest guitarist Ritchie Faulker performing in Newark, New Jersey on April 19, 2024.

The final seven songs were the highlight of the set. Invincible’s title track was incredible, and Priest subsequently performed the epic “Victim of Changes”, one of the greatest songs in metal history from the groundbreaking Sad Wings of Destiny. “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)" and indomitable “Painkiller” wrapped up the main portion of the set, before the “Metal Gods” encored with “The Hellion/Electric Eye” into “Hell Bent for Leather” (with Rob Halford performing the song from a motorcycle as is his wont) and then the anthemic “Living After Midnight.”

Front man Rob Halford performing "Hell Bent for Leather" on April 19, 2024.

The seventy-two year old Halford sounded beyond fantastic, showcasing his literally ageless and often piercing voice on some incredibly challenging songs including “Panic Attack”, “Victim…”, and “Painkiller.” His performance was nothing short of remarkable given his age and the degree of difficulty to sing technically challenging material in the live arena setting. Guitarist Ritchie Faulker’s influence in song writing and guitar chops on Firepower and Invincible Shield was evident, and he once again stole the show with a stellar performance. Andy Sneap filled more of a rhythm guitar role with the occasional solo, and the thirty-plus year rhythm duo of drummer Scott Travis and bassist Ian Hill were as consistent as ever.

Given Judas Priest's longevity, their performance during this tour, and the ambitious setlist selections that present a higher degree of difficulty in the live setting, their dynamic performance was a marvel. The same holds true for  Invincible Shield, one of the most inspired heavy metal records of the decade. Although the mighty Priest are typically "must-see" given their plethora of classic material and legendary live performances, "time is of the essence" to witness this band on this tour to support this monumental record.

Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ (4/19/2024)

Sweden's Sabaton is supporting Priest during this leg of the Invincible Shield World Tour and entertained the audience with a highly energetic, twelve song performance. The five-piece played several of its staples - "Ghost Division," "Swedish Pagan," "Carolus Rex," "Primo Victoria," and set closer "To Hell and Back" - along with newer selections such as "Soldier of Heaven." As usual, Sabaton performed with a replica tank serving as a drum stand, and front man Joakim Broden was appreciative and enthusiastic about the reception.

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