On Friday morning in Halifax, there were more than a few folks looking to turn the volume down after a raucous evening at the Scotiabank Centre. Ask them how they feel, however, and I assure you that the smiles and shredded vocal cords were more than worth it. There have been massive names in the world of music who have graced the Scotiabank Centre / Metro Centre stage, such as Garth Brooks, Tom Petty, Prince, Elton John, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and, making their long-overdue return, Judas Priest, one of the true gods of Metal.
Earlier in the week, many of the ticket holders for the show were holding their breath, as the band was slated to play in Lowell, MA on April 4th but scrapped the show hours before they were to hit the stage due to Rob Halford fighting off a cold. Luckily they headed to Halifax to recoup in advance of the show, and if there was an issue with Halford’s voice, it was not apparent in the Scotiabank Centre.
It’s not too often when you see a big Metal tour stop in these parts, but on this evening the pairing of Queensryche and Judas Priest was ready to bring the pomp, circumstance and bombast back to the Scotiabank Centre. Queensryche has been around since the early ’80s, is widely known in Metal circles, but is not exactly the household name that Judas Priest is. They sounded great, and Todd La Torre’s soaring wail filled the room with ease. He was the epitome of a metal frontman, stalking the stage, flipping his hair and just commanding the stage as a great frontman should. They played a tight 60-minute set, priming the anticipatory crowd for the impending arrival of Rob Halford and Judas Priest.
After a brief intermission to clear the stage, it was time for Judas Priest. As the lights went down, the winches tightened their lines and lifted the massive glowing Judas Priest icon above the stage as its lights shone down on the adoring crowd. On the stage below, clad in his iconic studded black leather jacket stood Rob Halford, flanked by guitarists Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap (edited). Then we were away to the races. For the better part of the next two hours, Halford encapsulated the band’s 50-year history, showcasing hits such as “Breaking the Law”, “Painkiller” and “You Got Another Thing Comin'”.
In the packed Scotiabank Centre crowd, many of whom were sporting newly minted Judas Priest tees, there was a definite legion of longtime fans wearing their vintage Priest merch. This was a show that rattled the Scotiabank Centre to its rafters and made many an audiologist very, very wealthy. The way that Halford roamed the stage, you would never guess that he was into his 70th year. The spirit of Metal is clearly alive and well in Halifax and you could tell Judas Priest was happy to be on stage, with Halford’s iconic Metal wail sounding as good as ever.
As the show wound down, the band saved their biggest tricks for last. “Painkiller” closed out the main set, and after a brief respite the band returned to the stage and launched into “Electric Eye”, Then just before the band started up “Hell Bent for Leather”, a roar of an engine sounded and Halford drove in on his motorcycle, clad in leather with a Judas Priest MC badge shone on the screen behind him. It was a great visual to see Biker Halford with crop in hand, and that closed out the initial encore. After a brief walk off stage, the illuminated Judas Priest logo lowered once more and from the smoke arose a giant inflatable bull (a nod to the band’s hometown of Birmingham, England) which greeted the band as they returned for one final hurrah on this Halifax stop. To close out the night, they performed one of their best-known tracks, “Living After Midnight”, and took one final bow before sending the Halifax fans home happy and heading off into the night themselves. If this does serve as the band’s final Halifax show, it was one that showcased exactly why the legacy of Judas Priest endures to this day (and beyond). Rob Halford and the band sounded great, and it’s clear to see the impact he has on the Metal genre with his guttural scream. Here’s hoping they make it back to Halifax before Judas Priest calls it a career.