As I made my brief trek heading out on the highway to see the mighty Judas Priest at the picturesque Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles, CA., I knew the band would kick ass as always, but little did I know that the new setlist on the opening night of this leg of their North American Redeemer Of Souls tour would include tracks that they hadn’t played live in many years. Including one they hadn’t played in over 30!

Opening for the Priest on this leg is the Atlanta, Georgia based Mastodon. Bassist Troy Sanders, guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher and drummer Brann Dailor have been doing their thing for fifteen years now, and their kick ass set definitely set the tone for an evening of in your face Metal. Touring behind their Grammy nominated 2014 album ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun,’ it is great to see the band in front of some faces that haven’t seen them before or may not be that familiar with them. These guys are huge are over the world, and hopefully with this exposure it just adds another positive notch in the Mastodon story. As the set wrapped, the band expressed thanks to the Priest camp and how excited they were to be opening for them, saying they would be out in the crowd joining us to enjoy the set. I did see guitarist Brent Hinds out in the crowd, so it was a promise fulfilled.

Judas Priest Vina Robles 2015

The Priest exceeded all expectations, as stellar musicianship from Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, Scott Travis and Richie Faulkner kept the energy level at Vina Robles to an all time Metal high. I will say this about Richie even if it has been said before. While saddened by the departure of guitarist K.K. Downing from the band a few years back, this was my first time seeing Richie with the band and he has certainly added an amazing presence and energy to the group. The Priest has let Richie grab the torch and his passion and dedication certainly shows in an amazing way. He is helping carry the Priest into a new generation of fans, and it is a great thing to see.

And what can you say about the Metal God, Rob Halford, other than he is just one of the finest voices in hard rock and metal history. At 64 years old, he may not get around onstage as quickly as he used to and carries that cane around either as a prop or maybe a little support, but his voice was spot on and dominant. Just an amazing performance by a group that has now been around for an amazing 45 years!!

The set included a couple of tracks from the latest ‘Redeemer Of Souls’ album and many of the band’s greatest, but seeing three tracks performed live that hadn’t been for many years added such a rush to this amazing night of Metal. The third song in the set, ‘Desert Plains,’ hadn’t been performed by Priest in over 10 years. ‘The Rage’ had it’s first live performance since 2009, and ‘Screaming For Vengeance’ amazingly kicked ass live for the first time since they last performed it on Heavy Metal Sunday at the US Festival in 1983. It was an awesome thing to come full circle to see it live again, since I was at the US Festival back in ’83.

You owe it to yourself to see the Priest on this tour as it is an evening of Metal to remember.

Metal Gods
Desert Plains (First live performance since October 9, 2005)
Victim of Changes
Halls of Valhalla
The Rage (First live performance since October 17, 2009)
Redeemer of Souls
Beyond the Realms of Death
Screaming for Vengeance (first live performance since 1983 US Festival)
Breaking the Law
Hell Bent for Leather
The Hellion
Electric Eye
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Living After Midnight

Special thanks to Jessica Puchi of Nederlander and Chipster PR & Consulting