Lundi night and the Priest was back!!
For three dudes from Ottawa, Laval is not the ideal place to see a concert…especially on a Monday night. A two and a half hour drive each way is a lot to ask, but it’s not so bad when the destination is the beautiful Place Bell, and the hosts are none other than Judas Priest. This was my second show at this venue after having seen the Styx/Joan Jett/Tesla gig before the pandemic.
This review is a two parter:
Part 1, written by Paul Eastwood, is from the perspective of a relative new-comer to Priest’s music.
Part 2, written by moi, is from the perspective of a die-hard Priest fan.
PART 1 – The Victim Of Changes
By Paul Eastwood
April 11, 2022, a special night as it is my first concert since early December 2019. The venue, Place Bell in the heart of the metal capital of Canada, Laval, PQ. The opening act, Queensryche, played a polished and much appreciated set. But the night truly belonged to Judas Priest. The moment they hit the stage, they had the crowd in the palms of their hands. I have to admit that I am relatively new to their music, and this show made me wish I had paid more attention over the years. They ran through their crowd favourites, even visiting their 1974 debut with the title track Rocka Rolla. Trying to recall highlights is moot as every song was a highlight. The band was on fire, Rob Halford was incredible, and there was lots of amazing guitar…what’s not to like? The one constant highlight was guitarist Richie Faulkner. His fretwork was definitely some of the best playing I have ever heard. To think of how close we came to losing him, and how amazingly he has bounced back made this night even more special.
I have travelled to greater Montreal for a number of shows: Deep Purple, Styx, and Sons of Apollo, to name a few. Whether it’s Metal or Prog, the crowds have always been phenomenal. They are welcoming, knowledgeable and appreciative, with this show being no exception. Easily the loudest crowd I have ever heard.
PART 2 – The Electric Eye
By Ken Vantour
A Judas Priest concert is always a special event for me. This one was extra special for a few of reasons:
1. It was my first concert since December 6, 2019, when I saw I Mother Earth in Ottawa.
2. My brother decided to join me and my Let’s Rock buddy at the last minute.
3. Richie Faulkner was back on stage after his medical scare in September, 2021.
4. Queensryche was the opener, and I have been a big fan since Rage For Order
The last time I saw Judas Priest was in Montreal with Deep Purple in August 2018. That’s far too long to wait for the Metal Gods. The last time I saw Queensryche was October 28, 1991. What the…?
Now, I realize that both of these bands have changed a lot over the years with member changes. You can say whatever you want about all that, but to me, the music does the talking and the players that are performing in these bands now are helping keep the Priest and Ryche legacy alive, which will always be a good thing. Not to mention, they are doing it very well, which is an even better thing. I read a comment on a Facebook video by Paul Hadley Miller that totally sums up my thinking on the subject: “I don’t know how any Priest fan can listen to that awesome twin-guitar attack and whine that it’s not Glenn and KK. Sometimes you can’t get what you want, but what you get still kicks ass. Just accept it and love it for what it is!” I 100% agree.
Let’s get to it…
Vocals – Todd La Torre, Guitars – Michael Wilton, Mike Stone, Bass guitar – Eddie Jackson Drums – Casey Grillo
Queensryche hit the stage in Laval with a simple stage setup and a shitload of volume. Kicking things off with Queen of the Reich is a pretty ballsy move for a singer, but vocalist Todd La Torre proved right away that he was up to the task on this evening. This dude can shatter glass.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been a Queensryche fan since Rage For Order and it was very cool to see that album represented, with 3 of the 12 songs (Walk In The Shadows, The Whisper, Screaming In Digital) coming from an album that was very much ahead of its time. Actually, it was a very interesting setlist. QR focused only on their earlier work and played nothing from any albums after Empire. That’s great for the old-school fans, but I would have liked some of the La Torre tunes to be played. Their last two albums, Condition Human and The Verdict, were fantastic records and those tunes are definitely worthy of inclusion.
All that said, this was as good as it gets for classic Queensryche songs. Operation: Mindcrime, Empire, NH 156, Warning, The Needle Lies…Good Lord. I would have paid full price just for Needle Lies and Queen of the Reich. Guitarists Michael Wilton and Mike Stone were in fine form, trading rippin’ solos. Bassist Eddie Jackson is as solid as they get and mixed with Casey Grillo’s drumming, provided a serious back end to 12 classic tunes.
I’ve heard the arguments: No Tate or DeGarmo, no Queensryche. After the gig in Laval, I beg to differ. The current lineup is absolutely smashing it. Hopefully they can make a headlining stop in this neck of the woods sometime in the near future.
Queen of the Reich
Walk In The Shadows
The Needle Lies
Take Hold Of The Flame
Screaming In Digital
Eyes Of A Stranger
Vocals – Rob Halford, Bass – Ian Hill, Drums – Scott Travis, Guitars – Richie Faulkner,, Andy Sneap
Judas Priest is currently celebrating their 50 Heavy Metal Years tour, which will wrap up in Hamilton, Ontario on April 13, 2002. 50 YEARS!!
This was my 8th Judas Priest show. I have seen them with 4 different guitarists, 2 different drummers and 2 different singers. I’ve seen them in 4 cities (Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Seoul), in 2 countries (Canada, South Korea). I have interviewed 2 current members (Richie Faulkner, Ian Hill) and one ex-member (KK Downing). Throughout the years, one thing has remained the same: PRIEST ROCKS HARD.
From the moment the Priest logo rose to the lighting rig, the crowd new this was not a gig for the weak. There would be no letting up for close to 2 hours. Getting things started with One Shot at Glory from the Painkiller album, Judas Priest was in total command of the building.
Let’s get this out of the way right from the start…The last time I saw the band in Montreal, I got goosebumps and man tears when original guitarist Glenn Tipton went on stage for the encore songs. We all know that Glenn is battling Parkinson’s, and to see him at the end of the show in 2018, was one of my best concert memories. Monday night in Laval, I had the same goosebumps and man tears, when I saw Richie Faulkner on stage. After suffering a ruptured aorta during a gig in September 2021, he came back for the 2022 tour, and boy, oh boy, was he the life of the show.
There are a couple things you need to know about a Judas Priest concert, if you’ve never been to one: It’s loud (really loud) and there’s a reason Rob Halford is called the Metal God. Not only did his voice sound better than the 3 previous shows I saw, but his presence is quite simply awe-inspiring. I was lucky enough to be right up front for the first three songs for photos. It was difficult to focus on the other gentlemen on stage. He truly is a larger than life character, and man, did he sound good on this night. The fact that he can still belt out those screams in songs like Victim of Changes and The Sentinel is mind boggling.
What can you say about Ian Hill and Scott Travis. Hill hides in the shadows, but his sound is vital to the Priest machine. Travis is without a doubt one of the best in the business, and even though I’m a guitar player, it was so nice to hear his drums loud in the mix. My chest is still shaking from his double bass assault.
Now, let’s talk about the new guy. Andy Sneap has replaced Glenn Tipton on the last couple tours. The first time I saw him, I must admit, he looked like a deer in headlights. In Laval, he was animated, rockin’ and rippin’ some seriously legendary solos. He looked much more comfortable and was much more engaging with the audience. He is definitely a great addition to the Priest family.
And finally, Richie Faulkner. Aside from what I mentioned earlier about the comeback, this dude is an absolute monster on the guitar. He, like Halford, is a larger than life rock star. He’s got the rock star look, the chops, the showmanship and the crowd engagement. He is the total package, and his solo in Victim of Changes in Laval is one of the top guitar solos I have ever heard. That solo alone was worth the price of admission. I’m glad he’s back, healthy and rockin’.
The setlist is a dream for the fans. It touched on pretty much every era, aside from the Ripper days. There were many standout tunes, but for me, Rocka Rolla, The Sentinel, A Touch Of Evil and Desert Plains. I think my only complaint from the chosen songs was the lack of Firepower tunes. Only Lightning Strikes was played.
To sum up, this was a perfect rock and roll show. The lights, the set, the music (from both bands), the Metal God…Who could ask for anything more?
One Shot at Glory
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
A Touch of Evil
Victim of Changes
Blood Red Skies
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)
Diamonds & Rust
The Hellion/Electric Eye
Hell Bent for Leather
Breaking the Law
Living After Midnight