A Headbanger's Paradise In Youngstown
March 16th, 2018
Well, Youngstown's old steel mills didn't come roaring back to life last night, but if you were anywhere near downtown Youngstown, you would have heard lots of metal being shredded and faces being melted.
The triple threat of Judas Priest, Saxon, and Black Star Riders brought enough energy to the Covelli Centre to power the old industrial city for at least a few cold March weeks. Touring in support of their March 9th release Firepower, the recent Rock Hall nominees tore it up, even without longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton, who suddenly left the band's rigorous touring schedule due to the debilitating effects of his decade-long struggle with Parkinson's Disease.
Starting the evening off in style was Black Star Riders, made up of members of Irish band Thin Lizzy. While most of that legacy band has either passed on or retired, the band describes themselves as "the next step in the evolution of the Thin Lizzy story." Longtime Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham is the only direct link to the classic Thin Lizzy lineup, and the only member to play on an album with TL founder Phil Lynott.
Frontman Ricky Warwick scorched through a thirty-minute set, giving the crowd the one Lizzy tune they wanted to hear. When the outfit revved up with "The Boys Are Back In Town," the near-capacity crowd went nuts. An interesting sidenote: Drummer Chad Szeliga, who recently joined the band and was the former drummer for Breaking Benjamin, is a native of my hometown, Elyria, Ohio!
After a quick stage reset, early '80s metal mavens Saxon took the stage. Frontman Biff Byford, always looking the part of a Saxon warlord, grabbed the mic and took the audience through the band's halcyon years with a ten-song set list. A-list tunes such as "Motorcycle Man" and "Denim and Leather" kept the mostly-male (and over forty) crowd on their feet.
At the end of their forty-five minute set, the now-packed-to-the-rafters Covelli was bursting at the seams with leather-clad fans, waiting for the arrival of Rob Halford and his mostly-new lineup. Producer Andy Sneap was filling in for Tipton, and Richie Faulkner on lead guitar would be taking up residence to the right of Halford. Original member and bassist Ian Hill would stand to Halford's left, quietly doing what he's done so well for almost fifty years. Drummer Scott Travis, with the band since 1989, took up his perch of relative safety high above the stage.
When the curtain dropped and was quickly sucked into the back of the stage, which is a sight to behold in itself, Halford and company took to the stage. Wearing a bright silver leather jacket and black gloves, the English singer tore into "Firepower" from the new album. Met with applause, it appears the crowd approved of the new cut.
Playing tunes from throughout Priest's almost-fifty year existence, the set leaned a little heavy on the band's more popular years. Offering three new tracks from Firepower, "Evil Never Dies" got the biggest rise from the audience. The bigger hits, such as "Breaking the Law," were saved for the end of the set. Encoring with "You've Got Another Thing Coming" and "Living After Midnight," Priest tied up the night with a pretty epic denouement.
As a first time nominee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it's inspiring to see the Hall recognize Metal as a genre worth enshrinement. For far too long this type of music has been ignored by the Rock Hall's nominating committee. Although Halford and Co. didn't make this year's cut, it's only a matter of time before we'll see them as a permanent part of the museum on the windy shores of Lake Erie.
Maybe then they can bring some of that heat from last night and keep the place warm, ya know?
Photos and Review by Brian M. Lumley
Judas Priest Returns to Northeast Ohio
Iconoclastic British Metalheads Judas Priest will light up Youngstown's Covelli Centre this coming Thursday, March 15th.
On the road in support of their 18th studio album Firepower, the stalwarts and recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees will swing into Northeast Ohio just days after the release of the new album.
Regrettably, longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton will not be among them; he's retired from touring (although not recording with the band), due to health reasons.
The band, active since 1969, has seen a host of lineup changes over the years, however the most well-known version of the outfit has always had frontman Rob Halford behind the mic stand. For a time, Akron's own Tim "Ripper" Owens took the lead vocals position, inspiring a fictional retelling of the events in a Mark Wahlberg film called Rock Star.
Although the band narrowly missed making the final cut to be inducted into this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class, there's no doubt that this outfit will see enshrinement upon the shores of Lake Erie in the near future.
If you're interested in the new album, click here for a multitude of versions to choose from.