Denim and leather. Metal gods running wild. There was no shortage of either at Budwesier Events Center in Loveland, CO on Wednesday when Judas Priest and Saxon stopped by to deliver a big serving of fist-pounding British metal. The fervid crowd got their money’s worth. With a combined set list of over 30 songs, both bands covered a mix of old and new, sampling from the forty-some years each have been on the scene. It wasn’t a night for those who don’t appreciate a shudder in the bones. Or for those without a good set of ear plugs.
Starting things off for the evening were the Black Star Riders. Dubbed as “The next step in the Thin Lizzy story”, the band’s brief but solid opening set mostly included songs from their 2017 release, Heavy Fire. The new “All Hell Breaks Loose” and “Kingdom of the Lost” were featured along with the classic “Jailbreak.”
Next up, the mighty Saxon. With the recent release of their 22nd album, Thunderbolt, the British metalers show no signs of hitting the brakes anytime soon. Vocalist Biff Byford towered over the crowd, periodically flinging his long white locks, and belted out a tour de force of metal goodness. Title track “Thunderbolt” was first, followed by a number of other cuts from the new album including “Nosferatu (The Vampire’s Waltz)” and “The Secret of Flight.” One of the highlights of the evening came with the performance of “They Played Rock and Roll.” An appropriately fast-paced and bass-heavy tribute to Motorhead and the late Lemmy Kilmister. Other high points included “Denim and Leather” and the pounding closer, “Heavy Metal Thunder.”
A darkened house and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” echoing through the arena ushered in the night’s main attraction. What followed was a nearly two hour barrage of ear-splitting songs, courtesy of British metal veterans, Judas Priest. The “Firepower” tour is on the heels of their 18th studio album by the same name. And although the set list included only a few tracks from the latest release, it was clear the band is holding true to the sound that has defined them from the beginning.
Halford still has his pipes. Which is no small feat considering the elder statesman of metal has been at it for decades now. Despite a full house of fans signing along, his voice clearly rang out on the likes of “Grinder,” “Lightning Strike,” “Painkiller” and “Metal Gods.” Guitarist Richie Faulkner kept the riffs in full supply while Andy Sneap gracefully filled the dueling guitar shoes of Glenn Tipton, who recently announced his battle with Parkinson’s disease would make touring too difficult. All the while, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis held down the back of the stage with their driving beat. A four song encore wrapped things up for the night with the crowd-rousing “Living After Midnight” last on deck.
Even though the new wave of British metal movement happened decades ago, the music clearly remains relevant and welcomed. Both bands have continued to turn out a steady stream of albums throughout the years. And if the eager crowds are any sign, metal fans remain ready to hop at the chance to see them live.
It’s little wonder after seeing the powerhouse that was Wednesday night’s show.