The Firepower tour of heavy metal pioneers Judas Priest rolled in to Washington DC last night to deliver a fiery dose of turbocharged New Wave of British heavy Metal in a sold out concert at The Anthem, the newest and hands down the glitziest concert venue in Washington DC. On support duty were New Wave of British Heavy Metal stalwarts, Saxon and Black Star Riders, a band comprising of multiple ex-Thin Lizzy members. Last year many had predicted that the Washington DC show to get sold out quickly, and that it exactly how it turned out. Enough with the prelude, its about time we dive into the review.
My evening got off to a disastrous start. One of the busiest roads leading to the nation’s capital was snarled with traffic and an hour’s drive turned out to be a two and a half hours long nightmare, leading me to miss Black Star Riders’ set completely. My sincere apologies to you for not being able to bring the review and photos from their set. The venue was jam packed, and by the time I took my spot in front of the barrier the crowd was getting restless for Saxon to take the stage. Saxon is hot on the success of the recent release ‘Thunderbolt’. Biff Byford, a charismatic legendary front man with a remarkable energy and ability to lead the band, and the crowd alike, was at the forefront of this sonic and visual spectacle. Starting the set with the title track ‘Thunderbolt’ from the recent release from February; the band delivered a potpourri of new songs and classics. “This night it is like we are back in 1984… And 1984 was a great year for heavy metal..“ said Biff Byford, and we totally agree. Biff Byford and company delivered a show packed with sheer energy. Flawless as always with the guitar work and drums, Saxon saved the best of the set towards the end of the setlist. I only wish their set was longer, but you can never really get enough Saxon no matter what. Closing the set with ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’, Saxon left the stage to a wild applause from the crowd.
A massive curtain went in front of the stage as soon as Saxon left the stage. The photographers were ushered in front of the barrier as it was getting very crowded near the stage. As I was waiting for the curtains to go down before Judas Priest took the stage, I struck up a conversation with a family, who turned out to the wife and nieces of Scott Travis, the drummer of the Judas Priest. I asked them for a few photographs and they happily obliged me. The tune of ‘War Pigs’ sent everyone scrambling towards the stage. The fall of the curtain saw the crowd erupt as The Metal God Rob Halford launched in to ‘Firepower’. The latest album “Firepower”, released on March 9th this year, has seen wide critical acclaim from critics and fans alike, with many calling it the best release by Judas Priest since ‘Painkiller’. The staff at Metal Nexus agree with these sentiments. Let me tell you, the God has not sounded this great live in ages. The title track ‘Firepower’ is straight up from the books of ‘Painkiller’. The trajectory of Judas Priest with Richie Faulkner continues to soar. Richie Faulkner is no longer the new kid in Judas Priest, he is the leader of the guitar pack, and it shows in his stage presence. Andy Sneap did a remarkable job filling in for Glenn Tipton who is not touring due to his medical condition. The setlist on this tour has been revamped, with many songs making appearances for the first time in decades, which IMHO is reason enough to attend this show. ‘Lightning Strike’ and ‘Evil Never Dies’, two standout tracks from ‘Firepower’ in addition to the title track, were included in the setlist. “.. Make this Virginia boy proud… As I was traveling down the highway with my English friends I told them they were going to see the craziest crowd in North American in Washington (DC).. ”, said Scott Travis. The rendering of ‘Painkiller’ in this show is one of finest vocal performances I have ever seen live. Rob Halford of course can’t let the night pass by without cruising onto the stage with his motorcyle. Thanks Judas Priest, and Saxon, for not resting on the past laurels and for continuing to churn out fantastic albums. The question is, are we in for a New New Wave of British Heavy Metal, given how bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Saxon continue to release stellar albums ? Only time will tell, let’s just soak in the remarkable endurance of these bands for the time being. Book your tickets ASAP if you haven’t done so, the odds are not in you favor if you postpone it. If you were at the front row of this show, check out the photos, there may just be a picture of you. Give this article a share and keep following us. We will be bringing you more news and concert reviews in future.