Live: Judas Priest in Washington DC

Judas Priest is one of those bands that has been around forever and has undergone a few lineup changes – but still stands the test of time- kicking major ass and bringing the god-damn thunder to every concert. Having recently released their latest album, Firepower, Priest performed at the Anthem in Washington, D.C. for a night of old-school rock with thousands of metal fans that were eager as ever. The night began with Black Star Riders and Saxon warming up the crowd. Both openers sounded amazing and had great stage presence, but nothing could compare to the level of energy Priest brought to the show. Before the band even took the stage, the venue blared War Pigs by Black Sabbath from the speakers – a regular sign the show was about to begin – and the crowd screamed the lyrics louder than they applauded the openers. It was obvious everyone was there for one reason: Judas Priest. With studded leather jackets and beers in hand, the crowd raised their devil horns the second the curtain dropped and Rob Halford took the stage, belting his iconic scream to the first song, Firepower. And let me tell you, for an almost-70-year-old guy, I was thoroughly impressed. Halford can still bring it, without a doubt – though he may have to try a lot harder than he used to. Bending over and standing still during those high-pitched screams, it was obvious Halford really needed to focus in order to hit those notes- but hey, he sounded exactly like their recordings, so who really gives a damn? With a bright, shiny silver jacket, Halford huffed and puffed around the stage, singing and screaming with bright flames and eye-catching videos behind him. Though I’m too young to actually remember what “old-school” Priest was all about, my dad, an avid fan, has told me all about their antics as a band back at their peak. And, without a doubt, I can say that Priest brought those old-school antics, gimmicks and overall vibes – and the fans were ecstatic to receive it. Middle-aged men in denim vests were air-guitaring and head banging like it was 1980 again, something I think only great music and a great band can bring out in a person. As the show progressed, Priest only got more impressive with a plethora of clean and crisp guitar solos, drum solos, and even more guitar solos that lasted for days. Even the one ballad of the night, Angels, was filled with guitar solos. The band is tight, but still somehow dirty and badass; which, probably comes down to the fact that Priest has an almost 40-year career, but it still blew my mind nonetheless. Overall, Priest still brings the heat, in case you ever doubted them. Between the old-school fans, the lights, the songs, the music and the stage presence – Priest is a force to be reckoned with, even 40 years later. -Alyssa Rotunno Black Star Riders Saxon Judas Priest