After not being able to perform the night before due to a storm rolling through North Carolina which forced the Epicenter Festival to cancel their set, Judas Priest hit The Anthem stage ready to rock on Sunday. What was North Carolina’s loss was DC’s gain, as Judas Priest appeared to take all of that pent up energy that could not get released the night before and blasted it into an amazing show for The Anthem crowd.
Returning to The Anthem for the second year in a row on their Firepower tour, frontman Rob Halford promised that 2019’s version would be different than last year’s tour, with a new set full of rarely played songs. Opening the set with “Necromancer,” Rob emerged from the smoke and looked ready to perform a voodoo ceremony, dressed in a purple jacket, cape, and top hat, while he stalked around the stage with the help of a staff topped by a rhinestone covered skull.
Four songs in total were played off of the band’s latest album, with “Necromancer,” “Spectre,” and “Traitors Gate” all making their live debuts on this tour. Before the fourth song from Firepower, “No Surrender,” Rob called the song an anthem of the heavy metal community, and he added that it was also an “anthem for Glenn,” referring to longtime Judas Priest guitarist, Glenn Tipton, who had to step away from touring with the band in 2018 after announcing his battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Stream Firepower by Judas Priest on Spotify:
The brand new additions of songs were not the only updates to the setlist. For the second song of the night, Judas Priest played their early ’80s hit “Heading Out to the Highway,” a song, which according to Loudwire, last appeared as part of the band’s live performance back in 2012.
The song “Out in the Cold” was a visual spectacle. When a giant disco ball rose from behind Richie Faulkner and was hit with a combination of blue and teal lights, the lights cascaded down upon The Anthem. With a video of images of outer space being projected upon the background, Judas Priest set a scene of feeling out in the cold for all of the fans. It was clear that the band wanted to incorporate as many elements to stimulate the senses since, according to Loudwire, this song hasn’t been performed live since 1986.
But the show wasn’t all about what’s new and missed. The band still played many of their hit songs, and that was especially prevalent in the band’s encore. In what has become a classic moment for any Judas Priest show, Rob Halford rode his motorcycle onto the stage for “Hell Bent for Leather.” Seated atop his bike, Rob sang through the song, and he hit his signature scream at the end and reminded everyone once again why he has one of the best voices in all of rock and metal.
The set wrapped with “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight,” and the fans were left with excitement from the show they just witnessed, and hope for another performance in the future as the phrase, “The Priest Will Be Back,” was projected on the stage at the show’s conclusion.
Here are some pictures of Judas Priest performing at The Anthem on May 12, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Chris Smyth.