Chris Loomis

Judas Priest @ San Manuel Amphitheatre 10/22/11

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The Metal Gods – Judas Priest – brought their Epitaph world tour along with support from Black Label Society and Thin Lizzy to The San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, CA on Saturday night October 22. Priest has claimed this is their last full blown world tour celebrating the groups 40 year history but have not out ruled out new music or playing live again in the future. Also this is the first tour with new guitarist Ritchie Faulkner who replaced original axe-man K.K. Downing who left the band and retired from music earlier this year.

The night started off with 80’s rockers Thin Lizzy. The 2011 version of Thin Lizzy consists of Ricky Warwick on vocals, Marco Mendoza on bass, Damon Johnson on guitars, Darren Wharton on keyboards and longtime Thin Lizzy members Scott Gorham on guitar and Brian Downey on drums. Warwick actually sounds quite similar to the late great Thin Lizzy vocalist Phil Lynott who passed away in 1986. The setlist consisted of Lizzy classics such as Jailbreak, The Boys are Back in Town and Black Rose. The band cranked out an entertaining 45 minute set and the fans who came out early to witness the entire show seemed to enjoy Thin Lizzy.

Up next was Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society who blasted through a 60 minute set of BLS favorites including Bleed for Me, Fire it Up and Stillborn. Zakk played their opening song Crazy Horse in a full Indian Chief headdress to salute our native American tribes. Longtime BLS guitarist Nick Catanese and funky as hell bass player John “JD” Deservio  along with new drummer Chad Szeliga from the band Breaking Benjamin put on a high energy performance with lots of smiles and crowd interaction.  Zakk demonstrated his out of this world guitar skills as he ripped through  each song and also treated the fans to a 10 minute guitar solo proving he is indeed the modern day guitar God. Zakk’s rotation of different guitars in different shapes and patterns provide a neat visual to his performance. A BLS show is somewhat predictable (they never play much older material from their early albums) but always melts your face and leaves you wanting to see them again.

Judas Priest hit the stage at about 9:40pm and delivered a monster of a show with material spanning their entire career as well as everything you would expect from the Metal Gods –leather, spikes, fire, lasers, different backdrops and of course the shrieks of Rob Halford and face melting dual guitar mastery from Glenn Tipton and Ritchie Faulkner. Long time drummer Scott Travis and bassist Ian Hill make a thunderous rhythm section to round out the legendary Heavy Metal Gods.

Priest opened the show with Rapid Fire from British Steel and then went right into Metal Gods from the same album. Halfords voice sounded almost flawless (much better than the last couple of tours). His frequent wardrobe changes included outrageous leather and spikes as well as a bit of denim – what is more metal than that? At 60 yrs of age Halford does move a bit slower but sounds as good as ever and certainly delivers a second to none heavy metal experience.

The highlights of the set included the classic Victim of Changes as well as rarely played songs Never Satisfied (from Rocka Rolla), Blood Red Skies (from Ram it Down) and Night Crawler (from Painkiller).  The version of Diamonds and Rust was also a high point in the show even though it is a slower song. The song started off acoustic and about halfway through the electric guitars kicked in and Halford once again displayed his vocal range.

Ritchie Faulkner added a bit of youth and energy to the Priest performance. Although I would much rather see KK Downing as he is one of the original members, Faulkner is the next best thing. His guitar playing is outstanding and he nailed all of KK’s parts as well adding a bit of his own style to the part. He appeared confident and comfortable in his role in the legendary band. Priest seems to have a nack for finding replacements as they previous nailed it by adding Tim “Ripper” Owens to fill in for Halford when he left the band back in the early 90’s and they certainly found a keeper with Ritchie Faulkner.

The night ended somewhat predictable but awesome non-the-less with Hell Bent for Leather as Halford brought out the infamous motorcycle followed by You’ve Got Another Thing Comin and the night ended with one of their most recognized songs – Living After Midnight. 2 hrs and 20 minutes after Priest took the stage the night ended . . . an epic night indeed.

A well put together bill with Thin Lizzy, Black Label Society and Judas Priest gave the fans a night to remember of Rock n Roll, Heavy Metal and everything in between.  The US leg of the Epitaph tour runs through early December 2011.

Thin Lizzy Setlist:

Are You Ready / Waiting For An Alibi / Jailbreak / Don’t Believe a Word / Emerald/ Killer On The Loose / Cowboy Song / The Boys Are Back In Town /Rosalie (Bob Seger cover) / Black Rose


Black Label Society Setlist:

Crazy Horse / Funeral Bell / Bleed for Me / Demise of Sanity / Overlord  / Parade of the Dead / Suicide Messiah / Guitar Solo / Godspeed Hell Bound / Fire it Up / Concrete Jungle / Stillborn


Judas Priest Setlist:

Rapid Fire / Metal Gods / Heading Out to the Highway / Judas Rising / Starbreaker / Victim of Changes / Never Satisfied / Diamonds & Rust (Joan Baez cover) / Dawn Of Creation / Prophecy / Night Crawler / Turbo Lover / Beyond the Realms of Death / The Sentinel / Blood Red Skies / The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown) (Fleetwood Mac cover) / Breaking the Law / Painkiller

Encore 1: The Hellion / Electric Eye / Hell Bent for Leather / You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

Encore 2: Living After Midnight

EDITORS NOTE: Due to Black Label Society’s unacceptable photo policy, which claims the copyright on our photographers photos, we can not show any photos from their set.

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Thin Lizzy
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