Photos and Review by Robert McDonald
After a long absence from Massachusetts, Judas Priest made a triumphant return on their 50th anniversary “50 Heavy Metal Years” tour Sunday at MGM Music Hall at Fenway. I’m sure that some in the packed venue questioned whether it would ever happen after several health-related incidents affecting the band over the last few years. Priest’s singer, Rob Halford, recently disclosed he battled prostate cancer during the pandemic, almost a year ago guitarist Richie Faulkner nearly died onstage after experiencing an aortic aneurysm and an unrelated non-COVID related illness forced Halford to cancel their appearance earlier this year at Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Despite these setbacks, the band took the stage on time and delivered a raucous performance complete with a three song encore. The stage was fashioned like an industrial warehouse with a brick facade and toxic waste barrels strategically placed. While a recording of the instrumental “The Hellion” played, a large Judas Priest cross adorned with rotating spotlights was raised from center stage to rest at an angle above the stage before the band members took the stage to open the night.
Their setlist began with 3 songs from their iconic album Screaming for Vengeance, “Electric Eye”, “Riding on the Wind” and finally the hit “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”. Throughout the night they performed songs that spanned their discography from earlier hits like “Beyond the Realms of Death“, “Steeler” and “Breaking the Law”, to recent releases including “Never the Heroes” and “Firepower”.
The props came out with the encores, starting with leather-capped Halford riding out on a motorcycle with a whip clenched in his teeth for “Hell Bent for Leather” and closing with a giant inflatable bull with glowing eyes emerging through the smoke on the stage for the finale, “Living After Midnight”. For Judas Priest fans, young and old, the night was a fitting homage to the bands 50+ years of headbanging heavy metal that won’t soon be forgotten.