Between new bands popping up left and right and many raging live shows, the Bay Area metal scene has been on fire of late. So it came as no surprise that when Judas Priest hit Oakland’s historic Fox Theater on their “50 Heavy Metal Years” tour, the place was sold out … and it wasn’t one of those “sold out on paper” shows where there’s plenty of room to mingle and move. Nay, this was one of those “sold out and them some” shows where every inch of space with a stage view was occupied by a rabid fan and even the lobby and merch stand were vacant while Priest was on stage.
Queensrÿche did an excellent job of warming up the room with their 60 minute set, kicking off with “Queen of the Reich” in front of what was undeniably a friendly crowd. But that didn’t keep Todd La Torre and the boys from ripping it up. But when Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” started blasting over the PA in anticipation of Judas Priest’s return to the Oakland stage, people flat out lost their shit.
With all the show cancelations due to COVID, it’s easy to forget that this particular tour had been postponed from 2021 when guitarist Richie Faulkner almost didn’t make it after suffering an aortic rupture on stage in September. If you ignore that giant scar down the middle of his chest you’d never know that the guy was literally a heartbeat away from death. For his part he looked like he’d rather be no other place on stage.
It was also great to see Andy Sneap back on guitar as well. The band experienced a bit of backlash from the fans when they announced that they’d be touring as a four piece and eventually switched course by bringing back Andy. When Faulkner and Sneap stood together center stage for the intro to “Victim of Changes,” it was clear to everyone in the room (and hopefully on the stage) that there could be no other way.
At 70 (!) years of age Rob Halford remains a force, delivering an insane vocal range for two freaking hours! And dare I say Rob appeared about as chipper as he has been in many years, clearly enjoying what was going on on stage and off. He may have even smiled once or twice! If the epic selist wasn’t enough, the band was joined on stage for the final encore by none other than Glenn Tipton who had stepped away from the band after announcing that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Hot damn if “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight” didn’t sound just a little sweeter.
Hail to the Metal Gods!
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