TVD Live Shots: Judas Priest with Uriah Heep
at Toyota Arena, 6/28

I love Judas Priest. I have followed them since the release of Screaming for Vengeance back in 1982 and have been a huge fan ever since. It’s amazing for me to look back upon this band’s successes over the years and know they have remained on the throne of all things metal for nearly fifty years.

Think about that—fifty years! In an age where many bands come and go like waves upon a beach, Judas Priest has withstood the test of time and reinvented itself many times over with a simplified sound that became the blueprint for what I consider true heavy metal. Bands like Van Halen, Metallica, and Slipknot were clearly influenced by Judas Priest, and countless others have followed suit over the years. Bottom line, we’d probably have a much different metal landscape without Judas Priest at the helm, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

On June 28th, Judas Priest marched into the Toyota Arena in Ontario, CA and unleashed their Firepower on the thousands in attendance. Opening the show was Uriah Heep, another legendary rock band from England. Similar to Judas Priest, this band has had a myriad of lineup changes the past 50 years, but still holds true to their signature sound to the delight of fans worldwide.

Mick Box is the only one left from the original band and has done an incredible job surrounding himself with an uber-talented group of musicians who deliver on all-cylinders. Vocalist Bernie Shaw and keyboardist Phil Lanzon have been in the current lineup since 1986 with drummer Russell Gilbrook added in 2007 and bassist Davey Rimmer rounding out the lineup in 2013. I wasn’t sure if I would dig their set (as Uriah Heep was a bit before my time) but must say that they brought their A-game on Friday night, wowing fans with a crisp sound and unbridled energy that is typically absent in bands from this era.

After a brief intermission and stage changeout, metal icons Judas Priest took the stage and kicked off their highly anticipated set with “Necromancer” (off their critically acclaimed 2018 Firepower LP). Led by the one and only Rob Halford, this show launched into hyperdrive within moments as he took the stage donning a flowing purple robe, top hat, and a wizard’s cane with a diamond studded skull perched on top. Halford’s vocals were amazingly flawless seeing as he’s been crushing songs like this for nearly 5 decades. I would have thought he may have lost a step or 2 over the years, but this was definitely not the case on Friday. Halford’s dynamic vocals were on display all night long and didn’t diminish one bit. Amazing.

In addition to Halford’s brilliant performance, fans from all walks of life were blown away by the dynamic-duo of Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneep. These aren’t your everyday guitarists, but true geniuses who bring to life the essence of classic Judas Priest. This was demonstrated in spades in songs like “Heading Out to the Highway” and “Steeler.” Drummer Scott Travis crushed it behind his DW drum kit and demonstrated why he’s considered one of the best in metal today. And what more can be said about bassist Ian Hill that has not already been said? This guy is the longest standing member of Judas Priest (circa 1969) and a legend in his own right. The band would not be who they are today without his signature bass lines that define the classic Judas Priest sound.

Clocking in a nearly 2 hours and 19 incredible songs, Judas Priest delivered to the Inland Empire faithful a setlist that rocked the Toyota Arena to its rafters. Classics such as “Hell Bent for Leather” and “Breaking the Law” sounded just as good live as they did when I saw them live for the first time at the Los Angeles Sports Arena back in 1989. The only thing that seems to have changed was Halford’s incessant wardrobe changes. I counted a minimum of 10 throughout the night which led me to believe he had a team of stylists at the ready backstage, ala Nordstrom’s. At the end of it all, this was a true rock and roll show and one that fans won’t soon forget. I can’t wait to see them again on their “50th Anniversary” Tour in 2020 and hope we’ll see legends K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton join them on stage for what will surely be a tour for the ages.


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